It’s been 45 years since Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers entered a Chicago recording studio to cut the album that would change the face of American music forever. That self-titled release came out in August 1971 and launched an American institution, Alligator Records. Label boss Bruce Iglauer ran the operation from an efficiency apartment in the Windy City. In the subsequent decades, his imprint would issue roughly 300 titles, including releases from Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, Luther Allison, and Lil’ Ed and The Blues Imperials, among many, many others. When quality blues records were hard to come by and majors turned their attention to the latest fashions, Iglauer stuck it out, giving a loyal fan base music they didn’t know they were missing. To see the Alligator logo on an album’s spine meant you were getting something handpicked from a friend who loved that music as much as you did. Maybe even more.
Official Release #103. Performed/Arranged/Conducted by Frank Zappa. Road Tapes, Venue #3 features two complete shows from Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN. The July '70 Mothers line-up featured Flo & Eddie, George Duke, Ian Underwood, Aynsley Dunbar & Jeff Simmons. FZ's vast Vault does not contain many full shows from this time period, so that alone makes this release a special one. The tapes were recorded to stereo reel-to-reel, but not without problems. Due to their historical relevance, we felt it was worth it, warts 'n all! Venue #3 does not disappoint.
Official Release #96. Live recordings from 3 shows in Finlandia Hall, Helsinki Finland - August 23 & 24 1973. One year after the release of Frank Zappa‘s “Road Tapes, Venue #1” the Zappa Family Trust have announced a second volume in this series of “primitive audio documentary attempts to capture the essence of what was highly and improbably and even impossibly out there on the road in some of the worst audio terrain imaginable”.
This CD is most notable for featuring ten of trumpeter Tom Harrell's compositions. Few of the melodies from the harmonically advanced originals will stick in one's mind after one or two listens, but the solos are excellent (and in Harrell's case, often exquisite) and the generally melancholy moods of the advanced hard bop pieces are memorable in their own way. In addition to Harrell, Joe Lovano is in fine form on tenor, soprano and alto, Cheryl Pyle's two guest appearances on flute are a bonus and the rhythm section is supportive and alert with pianist Danilo Perez emerging as a major soloist, taking the title cut as a lyrical free improvisation duet with Harrell. An intriguing and thought-provoking session.
Official Release #92. Road Tapes, Venue #1 is a double live album by Frank Zappa, released posthumously on 31 October 2012, by the Zappa Family Trust on Vaulternative Records. It was recorded at Kerrisdale Arena, Vancouver, on August 25, 1968. Fantastic audio artifact of the Mothers of Invention in their live prime, in my opinion. A total must for Zappa fans, and the whole conceptual continuity thing. Even my wife, who generally loathes Frank's music, particularly when he sings, found the whole record compelling, except for Help I'm a Rock, which can rub even the most jaded musical obscurist the wrong way. I liked it just fine. Loved the Orange County Lumber Truck medley. Pick this one up, Zappa fans, you will not be disappointed.
Although a vinyl box set appeared during the early 1980s, and several of the mixes therein were subsequently appended to CD reissues of Soft Cell's regular albums, 1999's three-CD The Twelve Inch Singles represented the first ever corralling of the duo's entire extended remix output, and with it, undying evidence for Soft Cell's claim to immortality. Great 45s and terrific albums told only part of the story, after all. Across their earliest 12" singles, the sequence that led from "Memorabilia" to "Torch," Soft Cell utterly rejuvenated a format that had been growing increasingly stale and uninspired, not only offering purchasers more music for their money, but ensuring that it was music they'd actually want, as opposed to an extra few minutes of beat nailed onto the outro.
This reissue of a 1993 live album was never intended to memorialize Townes Van Zandt (in the saddest of posthumous ironies, its Sugar Hill sleeve includes a phone number to call for bookings), but it'll do for now. Originally released by Sundown, a tiny Austin indie with limited distribution, the 17-song set finds Van Zandt in fine form – upbeat, gracious, apparently sober – and in good company, with fiddler Owen Cody and guitarist Danny Rowland adding a dimension of musical enhancement that never overwhelms the nuances of the material. As anyone who ever saw Van Zandt fall off a stool recognizes, there was no such thing as a typical Townes performance, but when he was good, no one working in the Texas troubadour tradition has ever been better.
A massive 5CD head-trip through the outer reaches of psych rock from yesterday, today, and beyond! - Includes tracks by such well-known bands as Hawkwind, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Iron Butterfly, The Black Angels, The Warlocks, The Deviants, Allah-Las and more! The actual music in this box set is varied, yet gels together well, it's ambient psyche in places, a hint of mellow kraut rock, indie space rock, it's hard to put a description to the box as a whole….it's vibe from start to finish is hypnotic, edgy.