Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Song of the Day 5/3/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Monday’s song is #87:

Radio Birdman – I-94

Regrettably common American experience set to a savage, chromatic garage-punk tune –  kid discovers that college has ruined his old friend:

I bought you a case of Stroh’s
You never drank ’em down
You keep drinking Rolling Rock
You know I can’t hang round

This was 1979. Stroh’s wasn’t owned by Coors or available much further east of Michigan, and this being before the age of microbrews, beer lovers couldn’t get enough of it. Rolling Rock, on the other hand, had already become a staple of fratboy bars from Massachusetts down to the Carolinas. The song is on the classic Radios Appear album – as you might have noticed by now, most of the songs on that record are on this list.

May 3, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/23/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Tuesday’s song is #156:

The Slickee Boys – Marble Orchard

The Slickee Boys are sort of the American Radio Birdman, a ferocious garage-punk outfit with a fondness for eerie chromatics. This sepulchrally matter-of-fact epic from the classic 1983 Cybernetic Dreams of Pi lp (still available as a download from TwinTone) features lead guitarist Marshall Keith playing swirling funereal tones on a Casio above a river of guitars.

February 23, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/15/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Monday’s song is #164:

Radio Birdman – Smith & Wesson Blues

Deniz Tek’s surreal wee-hours scenario unfolds with offhandedly savage chromatic guitar and one of the great bass hooks of alltime, courtesy of Warwick Gilbert. Yet another classic track from the iconic 1979 Radios Appear album. To hear the song click the link above, then click on the top “opening” link on the page.

February 15, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 2/1/10

The best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues every day, all the way to #1. Monday’s song is #178:

Scott Morgan’s Powertrane – Rock n Roll, Rest in Peace

Morgan is a legend in Detroit, a pioneer dating back to the 70s whose inimitable style blends gritty soul vocals with raw, uncompromising Murder City rock. This bruising anthem, with its endlessly, ominously circling series of chords on the way out, is a highlight from Morgan’s all-star crew Powertrane, a band that once featured both Ron Asheton and Radio Birdman’s Deniz Tek.

February 1, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 1/13/10

Every day we count down the best 666 songs of alltime, all the way to #1 (or at least we try to do it every day). Fewer than 200 days to go, enjoy while it lasts! Wednesday’s song is #197:

Radio Birdman – All Alone in the Endzone

This has nothing to do with football, Australian or otherwise – it’s just under two minutes of vicious, chromatic 1979 garage punk driven by one of the catchiest hooks ever written. That’s bassist Warwick Gilbert playing it on the studio version on the Radios Appear lp; the link above, a lightning-fast live take from a recent tour, features Jim Dickson from the New Christs.

January 13, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some More Songs for You While We Fix This Thing

As many of you remember, we’ve had a longstanding tradition here putting up a new song every day, counting down our Top 666 Songs of Alltime list all the way to #1, until we were forced to break with that tradition about three weeks ago. Since it now looks like we may not be in a position to put up a new post every day til about November 1, here are the songs in the list which take us up to that point where we will hopefully resume daily activity here:

284. Procol Harum – Homburg

Very British, very stately, very subtle slap at authority from 1967, ominous organ and piano beneath Gary Brooker’s deadpan voice and one of lyricist Keith Reid’s best early ones. The single had to wait til 1974 to be released on album on Procol’s Best; mp3s are everywhere. The link above is the unintentionally hilarious original promo video.

283. Stiv Bators – A Million Miles Away

Haunting, majestic epic, the best song and sort of title track to Bators’ solo debut Disconnected, recorded as the Dead Boys were self-destructing around 1980 but not released til a few years later. RIP.

282. The Vapors – News at Ten

Furious, exasperated punk rock from the classic New Clear Days lp from 1979 (the same one that spawned their lone American hit, Turning Japanese), a generational battle taken up close and personal: “Still I can’t hear you!!!”

281. Al Stewart – Man for All Seasons

One of the popular 70s British art-rock songwriter’s most epic moments – and he had a bunch of them. This is a classic of existentialist rock, one of his smartest, most philosophical lyrics, slide guitar in the background providing lusciously ominous atmospherics. From the Time Passages lp, 1978, frequently found in the dollar bins at your favorite used vinyl purveyor.  Mp3s are everywhere (the link above is a torrent of the whole album).

280. The Dead Boys – Detention Home

Never recorded in the studio, this careening, menacing number was a live showstopper and one of the punk legends’ best songs. The best version is on the classic Night of the Living Dead Boys album from 1981, Jimmy Zero and Cheetah Chrome’s guitars screaming with feedback as the late Stiv Bators snarls his murderous lyrics.

279. Roxy Music – Out of the Blue

Haunting, swaying minor-key art-rock anthem, one of Bryan Ferry’s darkest numbers despite the upbeat lyrics. The studio version on the Country Life lp isn’t bad, but in concert the band went nuts with it. The link above is a tasty live clip from 1976. There are also delicious versions on the Roxy Music Live lp from the same year as well as the 2002 live reunion double cd, but the best is from the first live reunion cd featuring one of Phil Manzanera’s most exhilarating solos ever.

278. The Doors – The End

Listen closely: this is a pop song that morphs into a raga. Sure, it’s a “classic rock” standard, but deservedly so. Ray Manzarek’s swirling, funereal Balkan organ in tandem with Robbie Krieger’s evil guitar runs over John Densmore’s equally evil, crashing drums make the vocals almost an afterthought. “Mother, I want to fuck you!!!” Whatever.

277. The Church – Life Speeds Up

This macabre Syd Barrett-inflected epic was a mid-80s concert staple for the extraordinary, still vital Australian art-rockers. As Steve Kilbey has noted, the studio version on the 1988 double lp retrospective Hindsight is a bit stiff, but it’s still great. And there are bootlegs out there: Church fans are obsessive and generous with their files.

276. The Damned – Plan 9 Channel 7

The punk legends’ best song is this ornate, darkly anthemic masterpiece. The lyrics don’t make much sense – they seem to be about falling asleep with the tv on – but the raging guitar against a haunting organ backdrop are one of the high points in goth music. There are a million live tracks kicking around, many of them excellent, but it’s the 1979 studio version from the impressively diverse Machine Gun Etiquette lp that’s the classic.

275. The Church – The Maven

The Australian art-rock legends long ago proved that they didn’t need a major label behind them to succeed – in fact, the opposite is true, and this scorching, crescendoing broadside wastes no words in making that apparent. The clanging, crushing roar of what sounds like a thousand guitar tracks as the song reaches a peak at the end is one of the most majestic, sonically exquisite passages ever recorded, in any style of music. “Just turn the light off when you go, just tell the jury all you know,” Steve Kilbey snarls. From Sometime Anywhere, 1994.

274. Radio Birdman – Hand of Law

If you’ve been following this list from the beginning, you may have noticed that Australian garage-punks Radio Birdman’s classic 1979 album Radios Appear is very well represented here – and here we go again, with another cauldron of guitar fury, almost five minutes of paint-peeling, macabre, screaming intensity from Deniz Tek and Chris Masuak.

273. The Saints – Follow the Leader

The studio version (see the link above) on the Out in the Jungle album is decent, but when the band were at their peak – as a janglerock unit, for about ten years starting in the early 80s – they transformed this catchy, swaying number into one of their most beautiful songs. The version that opens the 1985 Live in a Mud Hut lp is transcendent, a feast of jangly guitar textures and lushly metallic overtones.

272. The New Race – Love Kills

The New Race were a Detroit supergroup of sorts, Ron Asheton and Deniz Tek on guitars, Warwick Gilbert of Radio Birdman on bass and Dennis Thompson from the MC5 on drums. They did a couple of Australian tours and then ruined what should have been a phenomenal live album with studio overdubs. But their two other subsequent live cds both effectively capture the band’s transcendent, unearthly power. This is one of Tek’s most vividly lyrical songs, a deathly winter road trip from Chicago to the Murder City. The stark, semi-acoustic studio recording by Radio Birdman is unforgettable, but the New Race version from The First To Pay, driven by Gilbert’s roaring, distorted bass chords, is even better. And very hard to find in a digital format other than the grooveshark stream in the title above. Here’s a live Radio Birdman take; here’s another.

271. Radio Birdman – Monday Morning Gunk

The original, released as a single by Radio Birdman mastermind Deniz Tek’s first Australian Band TV Jones in 1972 (and included on the 1988 Tek retrospective Orphan Tracks) is a blazing, somewhat woozily psychedelic masterpiece. Others prefer Radio Birdman’s even more scorching, professionally recorded version, released on the European version of the classic 1979 Radios Appear album some nine years later.The multitracked guitars of Tek and Chris Masuak on the solo are hit a literally unreal crescendo.

270. Howlin Wolf – Sitting on Top of the World

The iconic bluesman’s 1954 studio single hews much closer to the Mississippi Sheiks’ rustic version from the 20s that he probably learned it from. But believe it or not, his best version is on the 1969 London Sessions album with none other than Eric Clapton on guitar – given sufficient inspiration, even a hack can sometimes rise to the occasion. And it’s Bill Wyman’s casually soaring bass work that carries it over the top. Wondering who that tight in-the-pocket drummer is? It’s Ringo.

269. Bob Dylan – Positively 4th St.

The prototypical anti-trendoid anthem. Hypocritical as it may have been, Dylan had nothing but contempt for class tourism and most of the hippies who shared his comfortable upper middleclass background. And it’s obvious that a lot of them didn’t like him either since being one of them, he sussed them out. “You’d rather see me paralyzed” – how true. Download this with impunity because he isn’t getting any royalties from it. 

October 20, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Song of the Day 8/21/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Friday’s song is #341:

Angie Pepper – Last Chance

Frontwoman of Australian new wave legends the Passengers – still active as an acoustic trio – Angie Pepper remains one of the world’s most potently captivating voices, perhaps even more compelling than she was during her band’s brief late 70s/early 80s heyday. This song was written by her husband, Radio Birdman mastermind Deniz Tek, originally released on Tek’s Orphan Tracks lp, 1988. When she finally drops her tightlipped composure and cuts loose at the end of the song, she will give you chills: “This might be your last chance!”

August 20, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 7/31/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Friday’s song is #362:

Radio Birdman – Murder City Nights

Ferocious garage punk from the Aussie legends’ second and best album, Radios Appear, 1979, bandleader/lead guitarist Deniz Tek contributing a characteristically intense, lightning-fast solo.

July 31, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 6/23/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Tuesday’s song is #400:

Radio Birdman – Descent into the Maelstrom

One of the legendary Australian garage punks’ finest moments, this combines the surfy stomp, eerie chromatically-charged guitar fury and over-the-edge, desperate feel that defined them. The studio version from Radios Appear, 1978, is blissfully good; the link above is a characteristically ferocious live take.

June 23, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: The New Collisions at Arlene Grocery, NYC 4/23/09

The night began auspiciously. Boston new wave revivalists the New Collisions just get better and better. In the studio, platinum-haired frontwoman Sarah Guild sings with a provocative chirp but in concert she turns on the big, ferocious, Martha Davis-style wail. If their upcoming cd is anything like their live show, it’s going to be amazing. Seven PM being an uncharacteristically early hour for them, they made it seem like it was midnight, burning through one sharply danceable, catchy song to the next, many of them segues that took the crowd by surprise. With their busy basslines, swooping 80s-style synth, guitarist Scott Guild’s slashing, trebly chordal style, they’re something akin to Missing Persons with a college degree and an ever-present sense of unease – almost all of their three-minute dance songs have a dark side. The persistent restlessness in the lyrics is anything but a pose: it’s almost as if this band is offering a new look at the real side of the 80s, the one that John Hughes never would have. Even though the band looks like they weren’t even born until late in the decade.

 

From the first notes of the calypso-inflected intro to No Free Ride, Scott Guild was pogoing. They segued from that one into the lost-kids anthem In a Shadow, Sarah Guild belting wildly into the chorus: “In a shadow is all I know.” On Caged Us Kids, she finally took off her leather coat, revealing an irridescent red dress. “They caged us kids and stole from us,” she wailed over the song’s catchy four-chord, darkly minor-key hook. And then segued into a particularly ferocious version of their nonconformist anthem Ones to Wander: “We were the ones to wander, not like you…between the lights, oh my eyes!” It was transcendent, powerpop heaven, like being at a CBGB of the mind, 1976.

 

Beautiful and Numb began as an uncharacteristically warm, atmospheric ballad, with synth washes building to a stinging, anthemic chorus: “Isn’t it true, this is how the world ends…they took away the danger and they taught us how to sing,” Sarah Guild lamented, a stark contrast with the American Idol types she was disparaging. Then the keyboardist took a nimble electric piano solo that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Radio Birdman song.

 

“I could not escape what was mine…in the night there is no silence,” went the verse on a the new, somewhat New Order-tinged ballad Constellations. They closed the set with a ferocious new one building from a stark piano outro, Sarah Guild’s outraged wail telling how, “somehow when I sleep we were maimed, we were changed.” Since the band has been rehearsing with two drummers, they’d depleted all the songs the guy they brought along with them knew (this guy is a keeper!) so they did Caged Us Kids again as an encore. Next time around the club ought to put them on later: a lot of their fan base were AWOL, no doubt still at work or on the way home. They’re back in NYC at the Delancey on May 21 at 9.

April 25, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment