21st Century Schizoid POOP by Jim Finnigan
New Paltz, that’s the place we be livin’
If we ain’t puffin’ blunts, we be chasin’ women
Magnum Man & Bighead
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A good year for music, I thought. My album of the year is Three Bonzos and A Piano’s Hair of the Dog, and the question is, can Roger Ruskin Spear, Rodney Slater and Sam Spoons restore the life and fire that was absent from the Neil Innes-helmed Bonzos reunion from 2007? And the answer is CERTAINMENT, thank you Mrs. Slater. Peter Stampfel‘s Dook of the Beatniks is a close second: Peter’s best-ever rock album, with some outrageous and depraved songs and the most frightening religious song ever. Outertainment, Peter’s freak-folk collab with Baby Gramps, is a lot more mellow, and better for the Baby Gramps numbers than for Peter’s. Peter even made a Mixtape. Better still is a compilation of MP3’s I made or downloaded from Peter’s Ether Frolic Mob live gigs – how are future year best-of’s gonna be tabulated when everyone is making their own one-of-a-kind albums and mixtapes?
CeeLo Green‘s The Lady Killer‘s killer cut F**k You is the second time he’s come up with a song of the year. If I were in high school, I’d try to make this song the class song for graduation. The rest of the album is more like a 2010 version of a Spinners album, so it’s a little lower on the list. Galactic‘s Ya-Ka-May is aided by a whole bevy of Nawlins loominaries such as Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas and Big Chief Bo Dollis and a rap from Cheeky Blakk that’s almost the equal of CeeLo’s. Worth checking is Trombone Shorty‘s Backatown – takes off where Dirty Dozen and Rebirth left off but with considerably more guitars.
Lotta good noise this year. Shackleton‘s Fabric 55 is dubstep wobbly bass meets On-U-type and Flying-Lizard-type sound effects. Kinda didn’t miss Mark Stewart when I heard MIA‘s MAYA‘s great political beats and an even better Vicki Leekx Mixtape. Also loved the fierce beats of Major Lazer & La Roux‘s Lazerproof and the petulance and hilarious opening songs of Robyn‘ Body Talk part 1.
The Felice Brothers‘ Mix Tape is actually not a mixtape, more a collection of odds & ends – but, I think it’s the best thing they’ve done, and to me it most closely approaches their live sound. Long Live The Duke + The King is good too, fantastic sound, very Laurel Canyon, but it is easily outclassed by Tracy Thorn‘s Love and Its Opposite and by Belle and Sebastian Write About Love, which puts them in a poppy mode this go-round.
A couple of quirky “ambient picks” this year: I always wanted to hear a slow metal version of Discreet Music. Funeral Moth comes close. And Christine Balfa plays the Triangle is what it says – triangle parts to a bunch of Cajun favorites. No more, no less. The ultimate minimalist folk album. Stefan Lakatos & Andreas Heuser‘s “The Orastorios – Moondog Rounds” is a welcome addition to 1971’s “Moondog 2” album. Other Moondog interpretations this year also came from Elizabeth Mitchell (Tell It Again) and Domino Face‘s Moondog Variations, short but very cool electro / acoustic versions.
Haven’t put together a list of best songs in awhile, but this year just begs for one, but here goes: Holy Terror – Peter Stampfel / F**k You – CeeLo Green / Do It Again by Galactic with Cheeky Blakk / International Bitch – La Roux / Don’t F**king Tell Me What To Do – Robyn / Song of the Prune – Three Bonzos and a Piano / Pachalafaka – Henry Mancini & Irving Taylor / Ghost Train of Freak Mountain – Baby Gramps / Bar Bar – Jane Gilday (of Peter Stampfel’s Ether Frolic Mob) / Atheists Ain’t Got No Songs – Steve Martin. Also: Best Album Title – The Unlistenable Years by The Toy Killers (2009)
21st CENTURY SCHIZOID GIGS
Baby Gramps at The Black Rose in Tivoli – YEEEOOWW!!! Imagine Robin Williams at his standup comedy fastest during his Shazbot! Mork & Mindy days – now triple that – and imagine it all happening while Gramps is singing da blooze and plinking a vintage National Steel guitar – when I think back on it my mind still reels. Peter Stampfel w/ Jane Gilday & Hubby Jenkins at the Elk Creek Cafe, Millheim, PA – Outside of New York City, Peter’s gigs are a whole ‘nother thang – a great venue, in Amish country no less, and an audience that could spontaneously sing along with some of his crazy songs and then stir it up and you’ve got a Hoodoo Bash for sure. The REAL Old, Weird America. Elizabeth Mitchell & Family – two shows – at Maverick in July and at Levon Helm’s in September: Tuned into her via the Michael Hurley & Ida gig at Varga last year, on her own she attracts little kids and their mums and dads – the Maverick show was a little more magical, with her own little chamber orchestra – she has a great soothing voice, great taste in covers, plus lots of interaction with the kiddies. Pauline Oliveros, Ione and Miya Masaoka at SUNY Ulster in April sounded pretty, and were thoughtful and meditative. The Ebony Hillbillies – great string band from Brooklyn and Times Square, caught them at the Fish Library in January – always a rousing time.
Ed Palermo Big Band at The Falcon in Marlboro in December. No longer exclusively Zappa – check out the 21st Century Schizoid Man and Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey – a great, frantic live big band sound. Caught Drakkar Sauna at the Nelsonville, OH Music Festival. Weird harmonies, weird songs, kinda reminded me of the obscure Times Square Two from the late 60’s mixed in with Residents touches. The festival also featured a fantastic greatest hits set by Loretta Lynn and a hesitating, kinda spooky set from Michael Hurley.
Saw two great garage band concerts this year – The Fleshtones at Beacon Riverfront Park in June, and the uncannily youthful ? and the Mysterians at the Ponderosa Stomp at Lincoln Center in July. Little Annie with Baby Dee at Joe’s Pub in September and with Paul Wallfisch at Littlefields in April: Twisted cabaret indeed, especially with the otherworldly Baby Dee on board.
Local events: A Mad Max version of Macbeth featuring noted thespian and errant Poopster Apache Capable in the lead role, at the Rhinebeck Center for Performing Arts. Two great Christmas events in the area – the Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck, and the Tuba Christmas at SUNY Ulster. On the same day this year, but, it’s tubas in the afternoon, parade in the evening. Gotta give some props to Gilles Malkine & Mikhail Horowitz. I have never seen anybody put on a guitar like that before – unbelievable. Lotta laffs for the rest of the show too.
THE AGONY & THE ECSTASY
Best rock flick of the year definitely was The Runaways, which should have been titled The Runaways and Kim Fowley: Herman Munster as rock impresario. And then there was Phil Spector: The Agony & The Ecstasy. What an ego!
Two books to mention this year: First there was the slogging through John ‘Drumbo’ French‘s Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic. And it was a slog. Talk about being an enabler. After Beefheart subjected Drumbo to some indignity or other, damned if Drumbo didn’t just go back on tour with Beefheart. Again and again. Finally ended up with Drumbo and his wife being exorcised of Don’s spirit! But wait — then Drumbo went on tour with a reunited Magic Band! Better to read Patti Smith‘s Just Kids and get a more positive view of life.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Some things just didn’t click: Brian Eno‘s Small Craft on a Milk Sea is rehashing old stuff, but in a cold, frozen stylee. Richard Thompson‘s Dream Attic is almost the same setlist as his excellent show in Peekskill this fall, but the CD sounds like it was recorded on an off night (…in the northwest, whadda want?).
Gotta say something about Kanye West‘s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Everybody seems to love this, but if I can pontificate, I say: fantastic production, great beats, 21st Century Schizoid Man, …BUT – the phoned-in guest raps and the misogynistic and misanthropic attitudes just kinda turn me off. Great ending tho’. We need a whole album of Gil Scott Heron produced by West. And then there is Janelle Monae‘s The Archandroid, or, “Star Wars: The Squeakquel”. Finally, there’s the vuvuzela – the less said, the better.
A fond farewell to a buncha performers I’ve had the pleasure to see multiple times – Ari Up, Alex Chilton, Captain Beefheart, P-Funkers Gary Shider and Catfish Collins, Tuli Kupferberg, General Johnson, Gregory Isaacs, Kate McGarrigle, Tom Winslow; and to some I wish I had seen like Marion Brown, Larry Jon Wilson, Bobby Charles, and The Mighty Arrow; and to a some people who weren’t musicians, but who had a whole lotta influence on what I listen to: J.D. Salinger, Dennis Hopper, Mrs. Cleaver and Sonia Pottinger. R.I.P. Jack Goldberg. And “Hello, Luv” to Ron Lundy.
|12||Three Bonzos and a Piano||Hair of the Dog|
|12||Peter Stampfel||Dook of the Beatniks|
|12||M.I.A.||Vicki Leekz Mixtape & /\/\ /\ Y /\|
|6||Major Lazer & La Roux||Lazerproof|
|6||Cee-Lo Green||The Lady Killer|
|6||The Felice Brothers||Mix Tape|
|6||Belle + Sebastian||Write About Love|
|6||Tracy Thorn||Love and Its Opposites|
|4||Stefan Lakatos & Andreas Hauser||The Orastorios – Moondog Rounds|
|2||Christine Balfa||Plays the Triangle|
|Michael Hurley||Blue Hills LP & River in the Rain EP|
|Robin Guthrie||Songs to Help My Children Sleep & Sunflower Stories|
|Little Annie & Paul Wallfisch||Genderful|
|Jeb Loy Nichols||Long Time Traveler|
|King Midas Sound||King Midas Sound|
|Little Axe||Bought for a Dollar, Sold for a Dime|
|Robert Wyatt & Orchestra National De Jazz||Around Robert Wyatt|
|Throbbing Gristle||Grlstleism (Buddha Box)|
|James Blackshaw||All is Falling|
|The Books||The Way Out (comedy beats)|
|Joseph Bertolozzi||Bridge Music (on the Mid-Hudson Bridge)|
|Funeral Moth||Funeral Moth|
|Rhys Chatham||A Crimson Grail – Live at Lincoln Center|
|Domino Face||Moondog Variations|
|Fripp & Travis||Live at Coventry Cathedral|
|The Duke & The King||Long Live The Duke & The King|
|Various w/ REM, Sharon Jones, Chuck Berry||MOJO’s Festive Fifteen (Christmas compilation)|
|Cory Daye||Cory and Me (Dr. Buzzard alumni)|
|Peter Gordon & Love of Life Orchestra||Peter Gordon & Love of Life Orchestra (+Justine!)|
|The Method Actors||This Is Still It – Early Recordings 1980-81 (Athens, GA faves)|
|Flying Lizards||Fourth Wall – 2 Albums, Bonus Trax|
|Henry Mancini & Irving Taylor||Terribly Sophisticated Songs – Collection of Unpopular Songs for Popular People (with Pachalafaka as sung by Pookie!)|
|Vivian Stanshall||Men Opening Umbrellas Ahead|
|Bob Blank with Fonda Rae, Blood Ulmer, Lydia Lunch||Blank Generation – Blank Tapes NYC