Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

It’s the New Iggy Pop Album!

Have you heard the new Iggy Pop album? Full disclosure; Jamie Saft’s Loneliness Road – streaming at Spotify – is the closest thing to a new Iggy Pop record that you’ll hear until Iggy makes his next one.

And what could be more perfect for Halloween than Iggy’s weathered, sepulchral croon?

Saft set out to make an elegant piano trio album with the formidable rhythm section of acoustic bass guitarist Steve Swallow and drummer Bobby Previte. They sent three tracks to Iggy, who improvised lyrics and did all the lead vocals in a single take. The result is as fresh as anything the Stooges’ frontman has done in decades.

The first number is Don’t Lose Yourself, a bluesy, One for My Baby-style nocturnal ballad that strolls along with a nifty implied triplet groove. “When it’s Halloween in your mind, fight them with crime…we’re racing with death, baby…” Iggy intones.

He goes way up the scale over Saft’s slow, brooding, latin-tinged swing on the title cut. You have to wait til after Saft’s darkly blues and gospel-infused crescendos for the best part, where Swallow rises briefly for a solo and Iggy talks about being at “The corner of Desperate Avenue and Loneliness Road.”

The third track is Everyday, another moody, bluesy one that Swallow introduces with a plaintive solo; Iggy makes it a sobering ballad. “My love is not a book of jive,” he asserts.

Obviously, if you’re working with an icon, your instrumentals without him are bound to be upstaged – but Saft’s night themes are vivid and inspired. The music is less about tradeoffs or interplay than intense focus. Saft, a multi-instrumentalist and member of John Zorn’s inner circle, is better known as an organist with a torrential attack, and there are a lot of places here where his chordal approach reflects that.

The opening number, Ten Nights, features darkly, latin-inflected block chords underpinning jaunty righthand flourishes while Swallow dances and Previte takes a triumphantly stormy tangent with his cymbals. In Little Harbor, Previte hints artfully and sparely at a clave as Swallow vamps uneasily and Saft slowly expands on a starry soul theme.

Bookmaking is as darkly spacious and suspenseful as anybody taking shady bets could want, an atmosphere that Saft revisits later in Nainsook. By contrast, Henbane is the closest thing to a straight-up swing tune here, Previte having a great time chewing the scenery, Saft spicing his ripples and glissandos with the occasional eerie, lingering accent.

There’s also Pinkus, a slow, austere, Summertimey blues ballad; The Barrier, which echoes a few things famously appropriated by Coltrane; Unclouded Moon, with its gritty, percussive, rubato rumble; and Gates, a soul-jazz waltz. Beyond its jazz appeal, Iggy completists won’t want to be without this album.

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October 24, 2017 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mick Rock Puts His Diversity On Display at Morrison Hotel Gallery

Legendary photographer Mick Rock has a new book out, Mick Rock Exposed: The Faces of Rock n Roll and accompanying exhibit up at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in the old CB’s Gallery space just south of Bowery and Bleecker. It’s a must-see: the book is out just in time for the holidays and ought to do just as well if not better than his previous Bowie and glam-themed collections. As he explained before the show’s celebrity-packed opening Tuesday night, this is an eclectic book: he’s never been swayed by popular trends. Although Rock will forever be associated with iconic images like the covers of Lou Reed’s Transformer and the Stooges’ Raw Power, his portraiture over the last forty-plus years is extraordinarily diverse, ranging from Japanese kabuki theatre stars, to a somewhat notorious, self-referencing show featuring Kate Moss in all kinds of provocative poses, to bands as dissimilar as German proto-punks Can, current-day blues belter Shemekia Copeland and gypsy punk stars Gogol Bordello.

As much as Rock has an eye for drama, he often goes for understatement. The best of the most recent images here are an absolutely hilarious Snoop Dogg, looking old yet ganjifically defiant in a George Clinton kind of way (Rock and Snoop seem to have a great mutual appreciation), and a considerably clever spin on an otherwise cliched PR shot of Lady Gag “passed out” in a dirty, trashed bathtub. That shirtless guy standing over her, face out of view? That’s Jack White.

Fans of Rock’s legendary glam-era photography won’t come away disappointed. A Ziggy-era David Bowie is captured in black-and white, pensive and shirtless in an empty room; on the train to Aberdeen with guitarist Mick Ronson; onstage performing “guitar fellatio” as Ronson solos, and in an absolutely brilliant if worrisome 1972 shot where he joins Lou Reed (hiding behind his shades) to support a completely trashed Iggy Pop, who has a pack of Lucky Strikes stuffed in his mouth.

Iggy and the Stooges also figure prominently. A black-and-white shot from 1972 captures the band looking particularly young and vulnerable, a skinny Ron Asheton taking a stab at trying to appear menacing behind his innocuous wireframe glasses (this was before he discovered aviators). The most wrenching of all the photos here is a color headshot of Iggy onstage in 1977, dripping with angst and longing: it’s the visual equivalent of Gimme Danger. There are also a couple of vividly sad Syd Barrett black-and-whites, one where he strikes a karate-like pose in an empty room – he alone knows what it means, if anything – and another with him reclined haggardly on the hood of a battered old Buick convertible (look closely – it’s parked in front of a sparkling new MGB-GT coupe) somewhere in England. By contrast, Rock had the presence of mind to capture Madonna in black-and-white in 1980 (wearing a 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates World Champions tee, licking her shoulder lasciviously – she already knows she’s a star). Everything here that isn’t sold out already is on sale at depression-era prices (a limited edition Transformer print signed jointly by Rock and Reed is three grand). The Morrison Hotel Gallery is open Wednesday-Sunday, noon to 7 PM: shows here turn over fast, go now if you’re thinking about it.

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Art, Music, music, concert, photography, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 3/31/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Tuesday’s song was #121:

The Geto Boys – City Under Siege

Over a haunting James Brown electric piano sample, Bushwick Bill, Scarface and Willie D insightfully and brutally analyze why the “war on drugs” is such a dismal failure – when you have one government agency fighting to keep them out while the other is not-so-secretly bringing them in, it’s a zero-sum equation. From their controversial Rick Rubin-produced self-titled 1990 album, a smart, funny companion piece to Jello Biafra’s Full Metal Jackoff.

And today’s is #120:

The Stooges – Gimme Danger

The studio take on Raw Power (click the link above) is great, but the best is the live version from the 1978 posthumous (at the time) Metallic KO album, Ron Asheton’s mournful, classically tinged bassline foreshadowing Joy Division, Iggy dropping his guard for once and delivering his most anguished vocal ever.Wonder where Ian Curtis got most of his ideas?

March 31, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 5/27/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s song is #427:

The Stooges – Louie Louie

At the end of Joy Division’s cover of Sister Ray, you can hear Ian Curtis saying, “You should hear us do Louie Louie.” No doubt this is what he was referring to, Iggy’s absolutely filthy, completely politically incorrect version from the 1976 live Metallic KO album. Because there are so many versions out there, including an awful studio one from the American Caesar cd, you’ll have to do some sifting. The link above is a torrent for all of Metallic KO.

May 27, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: The Friggs and the Chrome Cranks at Santos Party House, NYC 5/8/09

Two very different bands with a long history together delivering the same good news, twice: they’re back. Well-loved, all-female garage rock revivalists the Friggs are the kind of band that always seemed up for a reunion show, and word on the street is they’ll be around for the occasional doublebill like this in the coming months even while lead player Palmyra Delran continues her excellent solo career. The Chrome Cranks? Same deal, a prospect that seemed something beyond impossible when the LES legends imploded in the mid-90s. More about them later.

With two Fender Jaguars and a Mustang bass, Delran, Jezebel, drummer Kitten LaChaCha and bassist Ruby Garnett – a distant relative of the Boston Celtics superstar who moonlights as a very compelling keyboardist/chanteuse under the name Rachelle Garniez – drew the crowd in. “Come up here, motherfuckers!” Delran cajoled, and nobody could resist. Over the course of a too-brief twelve-song set and a lone encore, the Friggs gave a clinic in good chord changes and good fun. The charm of the Friggs – beyond the obvious – is their raw edge: the band has just enough looseness to give their catchy, upbeat, jangly riff-rock a little bit of unease. The women smile and pogo and scooch across the stage, but mess with them and you’re liable to get hurt. They opened with Shake, sounding like the Go Go’s doing Link Wray (wouldn’t he have loved that), the fast, funny rockabilly-inflected Mama Blew a Hoody, the stomping, Cramps-ish I Cringe, which Delran prefaced with “This is not a love song, feels like one, but it’s not.” The surfy Friggs Theme had both guitarists playing harmonies on the central hook, almost a Hotel California spoof; after a Kinks-ish riff-rocker, the gorgeously clanging, tongue-in-cheek Kill Yourself and a guest vocalist roaring through a cover of Sam the Sham’s Deputy Dog, they closed with the defiant Bad Word for a Good Thing, Delran – who’d been unabashedly and gleefully showboating all night – straddling the monitors as she delivered yet another offhandedly savage, blissful solo.

Of all the Lower East Side bands of the early to mid 1990s, noisy bluespunks the Chrome Cranks were the best, an underground legend in the making, and maybe they knew it all along. Uncompromisingly abrasive, ferociously intense, caustic yet charismatic, they were an amazing live act whether they were on top of their game or the show was a complete trainwreck. Which was always a crapshoot. Now back together for the first time in twelve years with all the original members – guitarist/frontman Peter Aaron, lead player William G. Weber, bassist Jerry Teel (now doing his own noir rock thing leading the excellent New York City Stompers) and former Sonic Youth drummer Bob Bert – they’re better than ever, a scenario that hardly seems possible, especially considering that their blistering, assaultive show was fueled by nothing stronger than water. With songs like Slow Crash, Desperate Friend and Lost Time Blues (the latter two which they played), their inspiration was no secret. The Chrome Cranks’ music, both on album and onstage was seemingly created for the early morning hours, for a condition where sanity and madness have become one and the same, where everything is so impossibly faraway that’s too close for comfort. A cynic could say that they sound an awful lot like the Stooges, but for them it’s the Fun House era Stooges, 1970.

By the time the band was ready to go, the dj’s music was still playing over the PA. Aaron stepped over the monitors, fixing a glare on his target. “CHECK,” he spat. And then spat on the stage and with that, feedback screaming from his battered Strat, they launched into one pummeling stomp after another. As one of the cognoscenti in the crowd said afterward, it was like being in a movie. Desperate Friend gave Weber a chance to go off into savage Ron Asheton territory for a few bars. Teel stood impassive, stage left, cooly providing an eardrum-blasting low end, occasionally with chords. About eight songs into the set, Aaron finally peeled off his coat, soaked in sweat. On a few songs, notably an absolutely hypnotic version of Eight Track Mind, he hit his vintage repeater pedal, adding an even darker edge to the songs’ careening menace. Although Aaron was roaring at full voice, it would get lost in the maelstrom of guitars. Fragments of lyrics emerged: “You’ll fall down..I don’t wanna know you…I just want you dead.” At the end of the set, he and Teel both stuck their guitars in front of their amps, leaving the PA howling with feedback until Weber made his way over to the middle of the stage and gingerly clicked off Aaron’s Fender Twin. The crowd was stunned, both the young in front who’d obviously never seen the band before, and the oldsters in the back who had. Nobody had the energy to scream for an encore until the band had already played them.

With a new compilation, The Murder of Time (1993-1996) due out on Bang! Records, one can only hope for a tour in the wake of a series of New York area shows. For those kicking themselves because they missed this one, they’ll be at Glasslands on May 15, probably around 10 with a bunch of other bands on the bill.

May 9, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 5/6/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s song is #448:

The Stooges – No Sense of Crime

In many cases Iggy & co. did the opiated, Exile On Main St. major key bluesy rock thing even better than the Stones and this is a prime example, circa 1972, beginning as an elegiac acoustic ballad and building to a hypnotically pulsing anthem, James Williamson doing a spot-on version of Keith Richards. It’s been anthologized to death (the Kill City lp from the late 70s was the first); mp3s are everywhere.The link above is an imeem stream.

May 6, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Darren Gaines and the Key Party – My Blacks Don’t Match

First-rate noir rock by probably the first-ever good band to be frontpaged at the CMJ site. On My Blacks Don’t Match, Gaines’ second cd, the musicianship is terrific, the songs are inspired and tuneful, the arrangements are purist and even the production is first-class.  If you can get past the vocals with this – indie rock types won’t notice or care, but purists will have a hard time with some of them – you’re in for a real treat. The weak link here is Gaines himself, who sang perfectly fine on his previous cd Hit or Miss but now seems to be flailing all over the place for an identity – he can’t decide whether he wants to be Nick Cave or Tom Waits, when who he really ought to be is himself. Drop the pose, drop the persona, guy, you’ll be glad you did someday.

 

Much of this cd will remind New York fans of the weary, 4 AM gutter jazz poetry of Blasco Ballroom spiced with anthemic Nick Cave Romanticism, Leonard Cohen gloom, boozy Waits saloon jazz and even the ominous nocturnalia of Botanica. The cd kicks off with Nightshade, a fast noir blues with a gypsy tinge a la Firewater before they went all South Asian. Track two, She Says She Does is sardonic, minimalist and dismissive, somewhere between Steve Wynn and vintage Iggy with acoustic guitar and a vintage soul horn chart. “The hits get harder/The kisses get shorter/Find me a porter/I can’t carry these bags anymore,” Gaines complains.

 

The snide anti-nostalgia anthem Good Old Days (Wash Away) builds to a fast, scurrying chorus with more horns soaring over dirty guitars: “What’s so good about the good old days?” Snowdrift is a dead ringer for Nick Cave in stark ballad mode, guitar feedback ringing eerily in the distance for extra ambience. The low-key noir vibe continues with the laid-back Tripped Down Memory and its tasty bed of watery flanged guitars.

 

Hey Napoleon, with its Peter Gunn bassline, Keystone Kops horns and careening guitar reverts to a vintage Firewater feel; Midnight, which follows, brings it down again with its strung-out wee-hours atmospherics: “I see no reason why I should be sincere.” The Litterati is an imaginative, pretty spot-on spoof of an unlikely target; Hallelujahville is a smartly sarcastic, swaying country ballad that screams out for a deadpan, unaffected lead vocal. The cd winds up with the Lou Reed-inflected Very Different Times and and the actually somewhat anguished Speechless: “I broke my fingers keeping them crossed for you/And the cross I bear is broken too.” Give this band credit, they really know their noir. This is one of those albums that sounds better the later the hour and the smaller the crowd – and foreshadows even better things for the band as they evolve. Darren Gaines and the Key Party play the cd release show for this one at 8 PM on March 14 at the Gershwin Hotel.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/16/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Today’s song is #527:

The Stooges – I’m Sick of You

Absolutely evil proto-punk from 1974, Iggy getting snuck out of heroin rehab to do vocals, James Williamson’s offhandedly vicious guitar over Ron Asheton’s bunker-buster descending progression on the bass. It’s on a million compilations on both vinyl and cd; mp3s are everywhere.

February 16, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 10/16/08

Counting ‘em down from #666 all the way to the best one ever. The full list, growing at the rate of one a day, is at the top of the page. Today’s song is #649:

Iggy Pop – Rock N Roll Party

An obscure treasure, the only remotely good cut on an otherwise dreadful 1981 album.  When the Igster gleefully poses the immortal question, “Where we gonna go tonight?” he speaks for a generation of drunks and degenerates. Former Patti Smith sideman Ivan Kral’s chord work toward the end of the song is ferociously intense. The album version (didn’t see any live takes) is available wherever mp3s are found.

 

October 15, 2008 Posted by | Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Butchers and the Brimstones Live at Otto’s, NYC 1/26/08

New Jersey garage/surf rockers the Brimstones have earned a reputation for being a great live act, but tonight they were somewhat upstaged by the Butchers, the garage/punk trio who opened the show. It wasn’t that the Brimstones played a bad set; on the contrary, they roared through about an hour’s worth of eardrum-damaging, Pabst Blue Ribbon-fueled riff-rock with a couple of surf-ish instrumentals thrown in for good measure. But the story of the night was the Butchers. This Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based trio – two guitarists, on Rickenbacker and Gibson, respectively, plus a drummer – absolutely set the place on fire. Their sound is raw, pummeling, unadorned, in other words every quality that makes a song catchy and fun to hear live. Their Rickenbacker player took most of the solos, getting the most gorgeous, distorted guitar tone we’ve witnessed anywhere since seeing Scott Morgan with Powertrane when they played Warsaw. That’s what an overdriven vintage Fender amp will do if you leave your effects pedals at home and just turn it up to…about 5. Otto’s is a small place and Fender Twins are mighty amps. Although the stuff on the Butchers’ myspace has bass, they don’t have a bass player. For a band who obviously take their cue from the 13th Floor Elevators, they don’t really need one.

  

It would have been nice if the Brimstones had played more of their surf stuff, because that’s what they really excel at, and that’s what differentiates them from the legions of other garage bands out there. That, and a completely authentic vintage 60s songwriting style, and an evident ability to consume mass quantities of alcohol and not miss a beat. Their organist/frontman delivered many of their tunes perched precariously atop his keyboard. When they finally called it a night, well past midnight, with a completely out-of-control, completely perfect cover of TV Eye, they’d outlasted many of the people who packed the little back room here. It was nice to see them in such an intimate setting: when they play New York, it’s usually opening for big-name acts like the Ventures or the Cramps.

January 28, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment