Despite the fact that my choices hardly ever effect the PoOP standings, I still feel it is my duty to muze and music to have a go at PoOP.
I didn’t hear much that grabbed my ear musically, this year, so my list is rather subdued. I suspect that this is a symptom of the Post-Election Trauma Syndrome (PETS) that I and a lot of my friends and neighbors are experiencing as well.
While I was not particularly fond of the Democratic candidate, anything promised to be better than the doofus fascist who apparently won thanks to the people in the non-Pompous and Opinionated states in Jesusland. So I guess I’ll just have to keep on being involved with some of dissident groups that I am involved with and we have to keep dissenting.
I’d first like to note that my pick for record of the year should have continued in my tradition of picking records that take decades to come to fruition. Last year’s pick, Kraftwerk, was 20 years in the oven (sorry about that…). I was expecting to make this year’s winner the Beach Boys’ Smile, which has been 37 years in the making. But, after promising to finally release the Beach Boys’ 1967 version, Brian Wilson tricked us all by just going in the studio and re-recording the thing from scratch! It is very close to the notorious Vigotone bootleg, which means that at least one bootlegger got hold of the original master before it was supposedly destroyed. My verdict is that I like the 2004 version better! I could speculate about whether it would have changed the course of history had it been released in ’67, and I think that it would have, but for now it is just a breath of fresh air on the stereo.
My second choice is the best album that Little Axe, and On-U, has put out in years. Songs! Who’da hunk? My choice for gig of the year, was another On-U trip, the Tackhead reunion concert at the Bowery Ballroom on elancey Street in September. And thanx to Mr. Still for hepping me to the Surf Coasters!
Top Ten New CD PICKS from 2004
Buy from amazon
1. Brian Wilson – SMiLE / The Beach Boys – SMiLE
Buy from amazon
2. Little Axe – Champagne & Grits
3. Ensemble Bracelli – Bracelli und Moondog
Buy from Pressure sounds
4. Jeb Loy Nichols – The October EP
Buy from enoshop
5. Fripp & Eno – The Equatorial Stars
Buy from amazon
6. Harold Budd – Avalon Sutra / As Long As I Can Hold My Breath
Buy from amazon
7. Dave Soldier & Richard Lair – Thai Elephant Orchestra (from 2000 but I just discovered it this year. A hundred air-inhaling elephants, indeed)
Buy from Gary Lucas
8. Gary Lucas & Jozef Van Wissem – The Universe of Absence
Buy from enoshop
9. Brian Eno – Curiosities Vol.2
Buy from amazon
10.LeTigre – This Island / Remix Sampler
Extensive Runner-up PICKS
Moondog – Remixed No.1 EP
Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting Remixes
Don Letts – Social Classics Vol.3 – Dread Meets B-Boys Downtown
Saint Etienne Presents – Songs for Mario’s Café
Saint Etienne Presents – The Trip Created by Saint Etienne
Harold Budd & John Foxx – Translucence / Drift Music
Samia Farah –Homesick Blues EP
Jean Grae – Attack of the Attacking Things – The Dirty Remixes
Stew – Sweetboot 2 (artist’s bootleg given out at the Delacorte gig)
Ikue Mori & Zeena Parkins – Phantom Orchard
Extension Ensemble – New York Presence (incl. Moondog covers)
Caetano Veloso – A Foreign Sound
Arto Lindsay – Salt
Nouvelle Vague (muzak versions of punk favorites)
DNA – DNA on DNA
Cristina – Doll in the Box / Sleep It Off (Ze reissues)
The Slits – Return of the Giant Slits (Japanese reissue)
Mutant Disco Vol.3 – Garage Sale (Ze reissue)
Moondog – The German Years 1977-1999
Jah Wobble – I Could Have Been a Contender – Anthology
Tyrannosaurus Rex – the A&M (UK) reissues including My People
Were Fair And Had Sky in Their Hair But Now They’re Content To
Wear Stars on Their Brow / Prophets, Seers and Sages, The Angels of
The Ages / Unicorn / T.Rex
Muhammad Ali and the ultimate sounds of fistfighting – Hits and Misses
Sly & Robbie – Unmetered Taxi – Taxi Productions
Candi Staton (pre-Young Hearts Run Free soul reissue)
Kathie & Carol (sugary 60’s Elektra folk)
Michael Nyman at 60 – Decay Music (Obscure speed-corrected reissue)
Konk – The Sound of Konk
Other gigs of note included the Du-Tels at Joe’s Pub, Stew at the Delacorte, the Ohio Players at Battery Park, Les Amazones de Guinee at the Bardavon, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the World Financial Center. The Amazones were not same the group that made one of my alltime favorite albums, Au Coeur de Paris, back in 1983, but they were good anyway. My favorite local gig was the appearance of Tuli Kupferberg and Sharon Gannon at (one of) the Woodstock poetry fests at the Colony Café in October. Tuli was his usual hilarious and opinionated self (tho’ not pompous), but the revelation was Sharon Gannon, who gave a wonderful performance of Moog-enhanced poetry. She said that she has some yoga (instructional?) CD’s out, but she should really record some of the stuff she performed that night.
Although I rarely see Broadway shows, I caught one of the last performances of Boy George’s Taboo, ‘cuz I had to see how the story of Leigh Bowery would be translated for Broadway. As I expected, it was all whitewashed, but the show was worth catching for the hilarious portrayal of the notorious Marilyn, who was apparently quite a bitch.
The most disappointing “gig” of the year was the Red Sox’s defeat of the Yankees on October 20.
One gig that I walked out of was an interview of Brian Eno by Todd Haynes at CUNY at 34th Street. I had gone expecting some new insights into life, the universe, and everything, but what transpired was the bald one pompously patting himself on the back for being so pompous and opinionated. But putting that aside, he and his cohorts Fripp and Budd put out CD’s that caught my ear this year. The Fripp & Eno CD was a kind of an “Apollo, Vol.2”, while Curiosities Vol.2 included some good ambient stuff, although nothing as hilarious as Vol.1’s “Work/Wank”.
It was disappointing to learn of Harold Budd’s decision to quit the recording scene, and to concentrate solely on written compositions from now on. The two double CD’s that he released in the last year or so were all the more welcome since they might be his last
KEWEL FLICKS OF 2004:
My favorite flick was The Holy Modal Rounders: Bound to Lose, which had a work-in-progress showing last August. The first shot of Steve Weber’s “house” in Bucks County, PA, got the biggest audience laugh of my filmgoing year. The year was just loaded with good, hippie, Commie, left-wing, health-food documentaries. Some of my favorites included: Supersize Me, Fahrenheit 9/11, The Corporation, and Control Room. Other movies with subversive messages that I caught were The Battle of Algiers, Spongebob Squarepants, and Shark Tales. Finally, a movie that recalled goodtimes long since passed, Festival Express has glimpses into a youthful and vital Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin concert tour.
As usual, Vassar’s WVKR, 91.3, is still the best in the valley, and shout-outs must go to Geet Mala with Padma (all Bollywood all the time), to the Polka show with Mike and Terry, and to reggaespectrum.com with Dexy B and Supa T for the best in reggae and rocksteady! Other props to the Fancy Broccoli show with Julie. Where else can you hear 30’s mambo records with German vocals! (Where have I read this before?)
REMEMBER THOSE WHO PASSED THIS WAY BEFORE:
Ray Charles, Coxone Dodd, Scott Muni, The Ramones (except for the drummers), and Sis Cunningham (of Broadside magazine and the Almanac Singers)
OTHER LATE BREAKING NEWS
Quite a few Moondog releases this year! Keep ‘em coming Ilona!
*Barry Myers’ Scratchy Sounds – Ska, Dub, Roots & Reggae Nuggets. It was Scratchy who introduced me to On-U
MUST TO AVOID
*Brokenhearted Dragonflies – Insect Electronica from Southeast Asia (I get the concept but I don’t hear the kamikaze insects…)
*I’ll pass on the “strangefolk” crowd like Devendra Banhardt or Joanna Newsome. 60’s groups like the Incredible String Band or T. Rex or the Holy Modal Rounders were stranger (not to forget Dr. Strangely Strange). Although I’ll admit that Newsome does have a strange voice…
*Thomas Fehlmann’s Lowflow is a bit disappointing compared to 2002’s Visions of Blah. Not enough vacuum pumping…
BEST DOG NAME, EVER:
According to Andrew Hultkrans’s book, Forever Changes, Arthur Lee had a dog named ‘Self’ in the late 60’s. “Here, Self”, “Sit, Self”, “Speak, Self”, “Roll Over, Self”. Bring back the 60’s!