...BECAUSE SOME OF US THINK THAT THIS STUFF IS IMPORTANT
What happens when you mix what is - arguably - the world's most interesting record company, with an anarchist manic-depressive rock music historian polymath, and a method of dissemination which means that a daily rock-music magazine can be almost instantaneous?

Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

BILLION DOLLAR BABIES REVIEW

http://annecarlini.com/ex_cd.php?id=2518


Title - 'First Ever Live Show - Flint 1977'
Artist - Billion Dollar Babies
For those not in the know, the original Alice Cooper Band broke up in 1974 after releasing seven great albums. The lead singer, Vincent Furnier, started his remarkable solo career in 1975 and, as I'm sure we all know, went on to adopt Alice Cooper as his name.
The band played their final show on April 8th, 1974 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. While occasionally performing with one another and Glen Buxton, they would not reunite with Alice until October 23, 1999, at the second Glen Buxton Memorial Weekend for a show at CoopersTown in Phoenix (Buxton having died in 1997).
But, I digress. In 1977, three former members of the Alice Cooper Band formed a band called Billion Dollar Babies - Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith. All original Cooper band members, they teamed up with guitarist Mike Marconi and keyboardist Bob Dolin; who had already played with Alice Cooper on their 1974 album, Muscle of Love.
So, the band borrowed their new name from the very successful 1973 album from Alice Cooper, but sadly only released one studio album entitled Battle Axe.
That said, now we get a monster brilliant release in the form of the Billion Dollar Babies' First Ever Live Show - Flint 1977 via Gonzo Multimedia. This wondrous, just released on December 15th, 2017 new live recording of their first ever show in Flint, Michigan, is as good as it gets for this era and the men behind the Cooper, trust me.
1. 'I Miss You'
2. 'Rock N Roll Radio'
3. 'Love Is Rather Blind'
4. 'Rock Me Slowly'
5. 'Alice Cooper Medley: No More Mr Nice Guy/Neal Smith Solo/Elected/Eighteen/School's Out'
6. 'Battle Axe Suite: Ego Mania'
7. 'Battle Axe'
8. 'Nights in Cracked Leather/Sudden Death/Winner'
9. 'Too Young'
10. 'Billion Dollar Babies'
Containing a few choice cuts from that aforementioned debut album, which bombed commercially, and was never followed up, the actual Battle Axe album has been out of print since the late 70's, so to hear some of those songs again here live, and raw, well, it just makes it all the more exciting for a Cooper fan, such as I am.
I honestly don't know if this has been a bootleg hanging around for 40 years, but the fact that here and now, the sound quality of this recording is excellent, and pays testament to not only the guys who worked on it now to remaster it, but those sound engineers recording it live that very night.
Regardless, and as much as most fans will fully admit, the Alice Cooper Band (under any name) without Alice Cooper just isn't as good as the Alice Cooper Band fronted by the great man himself. That aside, these live tracks are definitely musically amusing to listen to and there are some nice idea's on it that might have worked out into classics, if it had worked out better for them behind Cooper, of course.
Official Billion Dollar Babies 'First Ever Live Show - Flint 1977' CD Purchase Link
www.GonzoMultimedia.co.uk

MICHAEL BRUCE BOX SET - GERMAN REVIEW


Alice Cooper-Gitarrist bringt Biografie über die frühen Jahre

Künstler:  Label:  Musikstil: 
Michael Bruce - No More Mr. Nice Guy - News
Wahrscheinlich zur Freude aller Alice Cooper-Fans hat das englische Label Gonzo Multimedia die Biografie von Michael Bruce, dem Gitarristen der Band (als sie noch eine Band war) der frühen Jahre, veröffentlicht. "No More Mr. Nice Guy" kommt in einer Sonderausstattung von auf 250 limitierten und von Bruce unterschriebenen Boxen daher, die neben dem Buch noch eine Interview-CD aus dem Jahr 1996 und Reproduktionen von Band-Memorabilia aus der Zeit bis Mitte der siebziger Jahre enthält.
"No More Mr. Nice Guy" wird als die Geschichte einer Band angepriesen, die den dekadenten Spirit der Siebziger quasi mit erfunden hat. Erzählt wird die Story einer Garagen-Band aus Arizona, die nach und nach den Weg nach ganz oben machte. Ebenfalls nicht ausgespart werden laut Ankündigung die Wahrheiten über die Saufgelage und die Entstehung der Songs, »…die Rumhängerei, die Hinrichtungen, die Idee hinter dem Make-up, den Egos der Musiker und natürlich die musikalische Entwicklung der Combo.«Auch enthalten sein sollen bisher unveröffentlichte Fotos und weitere Memorabilia.
Alle, denen das Gesamtpaket dann doch etwas zuviel ist, können das Buch jedoch auch separat erstehen und bestellen kann man hier.

LEONARD COHEN NEWS

Leonard Cohen's debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, was published 50 years ago this week. It was not immediately or universally loved. “I don't think I could ever tolerate all of it,” Arthur Schmidt wrote in Rolling Stone. “There are three brilliant songs, one good one, three qualified bummers, and ..
Many people are hailed as great songwriters, as poets weaving beautiful words together with their own compositions. But in the pantheon of singer-songwriters, Leonard Cohen is an unmatchable presence, a shooting star untouchable to anyone else that dare put words to music. The likes of Bob Dylan, ...

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM GONZO

THOM THE WORLD POET: The Daily Poem

Rob Ayling, yer Gonzo Grande Fromage, writes:

"Thom the World poet is an old mate of mine from way back in my history. Even pre-dating Voiceprint, when I was running "Otter Songs" and Thom's poetry tapes and guest appearances with Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth and Mother Gong are well known and highly regarded. It just felt right to include a daily poem from Thom on our Gonzo blog and when I approached him to do so, he replied within seconds!!! Thom is a great talent and just wants to spread poetry, light and positive energy across the globe. If we at Gonzo can help him do that - why not?

I AM WITH YOU
I AM WITH YOU IN HUDDERSFIELD(Alex
I am with you in Brisbane(Bob
I am with you in Bristol(Rupert
I am with you in London(Agnes
I am with you in Bradford(Bruce&Joy&Ed
I am with you in Geelong(Ted
I am with you in Townsville(Michael
I am with you in Featherstone(Ian
I am with you in Devon(Jon
I am with you in Cornwall(Pam and Dave
I am with you in Pacifica(Jay &Gail
I am with you in Belton,San Marcos,Salado,Georgetown
Anywhere freedom of assembly,poetry and free speech
is allowed to gather and compound interest and invest
in our common and individual futures.HAPPY NEW YOU!

May all your dreams and poetry and songs come true!

THE GONZO NEW YEAR'S EVE TRACK OF THE DAY: Ding Dong, Ding Dong - George Harrison (1974) High Quality



Yesterday, today was tomorrow
And tomorrow, today will be yesterday
So ring out the old
Ring in the new
Ring out the old
Ring in

Friday, 29 December 2017

THOM THE WORLD POET: The Daily Poem

Rob Ayling, yer Gonzo Grande Fromage, writes:

"Thom the World poet is an old mate of mine from way back in my history. Even pre-dating Voiceprint, when I was running "Otter Songs" and Thom's poetry tapes and guest appearances with Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth and Mother Gong are well known and highly regarded. It just felt right to include a daily poem from Thom on our Gonzo blog and when I approached him to do so, he replied within seconds!!! Thom is a great talent and just wants to spread poetry, light and positive energy across the globe. If we at Gonzo can help him do that - why not?

MOST YEARS,I MAKE IT DOWN BY STEVIE RAY VAUGHN STATUE
@6.05 AM IN THE MORNING
By the Homeless Memorial Garden,surrounding a Tree of Remembrance
where we pin the names of those who have passed this year in Austin

Richard Troxell of HOUSE THE HOMELESS enacts this ritual
He has campaigned for a LIVING WAGE in Austin eternally
When i first started,they read out the names of 64 dead on the streets
Numbers went up every year.This year 147 left us(including NAMELESS MALE)
One is too many.Too easy to be forgotten.Reading the names
will not bring them back.It is a reminder they are human.
As long as we can remember.

HAWKWIND IN THE NEWS


Motörhead's Phil Campbell has released a cover of Hawkwind's "Silver Machine" through his band, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons. Original Hawkwind member Dave Brock also appears on the track. The composition was originally released by Hawkwind while Lemmy Kilmister was in the band.

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM GONZO
Space Ritual Live - Special Edition
2DVD/2CD - £29.99

Space Ritual Live 
2CD1DVD - £19.99

YES ARTICLES


Bill Bruford obviously wanted to go on and become recognized as one of the world's leading drummers, a feat he was to achieve when he headed out on his own after jumping from the Yes airship (that's hot air) after the next album, the one under review, which we will soon get to. Chris Squire clearly ...

Feuding by some of the former and current members was put aside, and all of the group's surviving classic lineup — singer John Anderson, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Alan White — along with 90125-era guitarist Trevor Rabin, took the stage together to perform. Lee filled in for late founding bassist ...

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM GONZO
Union
DVD - £10.99

Union (2CD)
2CD - £7.99

LEONARD COHEN NEWS

In January, 1968, Leonard Cohen received a fan letter from Deirdre Anzalone, a high-school junior from Long Island. At 33, Cohen was already a poet of renown, had recently broken through as a musical artist and was getting plenty of fan mail. Most of it was written in a rambling, mystic style mimicking ...
"I met Leonard Cohen in Parc du Portugal. I spotted him sketching a gorgeous blond woman who looked to be on her cigarette break. I couldn't believe just how 'Leonard Cohen' Leonard Cohen was behaving. When the woman walked away, I approached him and introduced myself. We spoke for 20 ...
This last year we suffered the loss of the enigmatic and evocative voice of Leonard Cohen. Even when his material is dark and moody, there is a strength and resilience that pushes us on. Though this song may resonate with the sentiment, at times, of this last year, we go on. And so it goes.

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM GONZO

THE GONZO CHRISTMAS TRACK OF THE DAY: Spinal Tap - Christmas with the Devil

Thursday, 28 December 2017

THE GONZO CHRISTMAS TRACK OF THE DAY: Sexy Christmas U.S.A (Extended mix) - Sensorium Girlybox - Official video

Why Is Modern Pop Music So Terrible?

RICK SPRINGFIELD NEWS


When Rick Springfield picks a direction — musical or otherwise — he goes at it with a serious sense of vigor. The drive and determination of the 68-year-old rocker has afforded Springfield success as an actor and author, but most importantly as a highly skilled songwriter, vocalist and guitarist who ...

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM GONZO
Live And Kickin
DVD - £10.99

FRANK ZAPPA NEWS


The fine folks over at Reverb LP —an offshoot of reverb.com dedicated to buying and selling vinyl—recently posted a neat little excerpt of an interview they did with Dweezil Zappa. In it, Dweezil Zappa dishes on where those curious about the music of his father, Frank Zappa, should start. To cover all the ...

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AT GONZO


Frank Zappa is considered to be one of the most influential rock musicians of the late twentieth century. Between the start of his career in the late fifties and his death in 1993 he recorded and rele..


On September 19, 1985, Frank Zappa testified before the United States Senate Commerce, Technology, and Transportation committee, attacking the Parents Music Resource Center or PMRC, a music organizati..

THOM THE WORLD POET: The Daily Poem

Rob Ayling, yer Gonzo Grande Fromage, writes:

"Thom the World poet is an old mate of mine from way back in my history. Even pre-dating Voiceprint, when I was running "Otter Songs" and Thom's poetry tapes and guest appearances with Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth and Mother Gong are well known and highly regarded. It just felt right to include a daily poem from Thom on our Gonzo blog and when I approached him to do so, he replied within seconds!!! Thom is a great talent and just wants to spread poetry, light and positive energy across the globe. If we at Gonzo can help him do that - why not?

TODAY IS THE DAY!
WE AWAITED YESTERDAY..
Tomorrow was the promise we made today
Always stimulus needs response
Always "a better tomorrow"
You can not eat yesterday's breakfast
Nor can you cash tomorrow's check
This island NOW is all we have to share
Until the next.A bridge is being built
as we progress.Applied intention/energies
will fill our every step.The dance began long before us
Takes us further as we move-into the New..

Years await us /to travel and to dance through..

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

WHAT MR BIFFO SHOULD DO NEXT


LEONARD COHEN IN THE NEWS


Leonard Cohen was one of the world's greatest songwriters, and a figure of almost cult-like devotion for generations of fans, including Bob Dylan. David Remnick sat down with Cohen in the summer of 2016, at the musician's home in Los Angeles to discuss Cohen's career, his spiritual influences, his ...

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM GONZO

YES ARTICLES


“I'm Running” does that giving the listener a fantastic Squire bass part, another strong Jon Anderson vocal, and interesting lyric and modern keyboard sounds from Tony Kaye and Trevor Rabin. Rabin's acoustic guitar is strong, but it will never make you think he's Steve Howe. The electric guitar leads ...

Squire tribute Album
Hot off the press from Billy Working on the Chris Squire tribute record.... sounding great !!! Thought I'd put a lil sitar on the remake of "The More We Live" which was the 1st song Chris and I wrote together. Because of that fact I thought the song deserved a place on this record. There are 2 nice solo spots, ...

Lee had previously struck down reports that he would be playing with the group during the special event but when they took the stage to perform their iconic song "Roundabout", Geddy played bass in the place the late Chris Squire. Geddy and Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson officially inducted Yes in the ...
WEB
EXCLUSIVE: Billy Sherwood of Yes talks Topographic Drama, Chris Squire, Open Your Eyes + more
Earlier this month, progressive rock band Yes released their new album, Topographic Drama: Live Across America. It captures the group in all their live glory, as they perform their now-classic 1980 album Drama in its entirety, along with with Sides 1 and 4 (and a bit of 3) from their 1974 divisive double ...

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM GONZO
Union
DVD - £10.99

Union (2CD)
2CD - £7.99

THOM THE WORLD POET: The Daily Poem

Rob Ayling, yer Gonzo Grande Fromage, writes:

"Thom the World poet is an old mate of mine from way back in my history. Even pre-dating Voiceprint, when I was running "Otter Songs" and Thom's poetry tapes and guest appearances with Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth and Mother Gong are well known and highly regarded. It just felt right to include a daily poem from Thom on our Gonzo blog and when I approached him to do so, he replied within seconds!!! Thom is a great talent and just wants to spread poetry, light and positive energy across the globe. If we at Gonzo can help him do that - why not?

YOMA
While here in skin/we sing
When even birds are silent,we withdraw
To join with trees a filtered song of skies
Roots beneath,hands raised in salutation

Remember all you were before knowing
What you know now is all that you can carry
Water from the well of human kindness
To slake that thirst for answers to all paradox

Others,too have strung Romantic visions
Wanting makes a wish closer to hand
You bring Heaven a little closer every evening
Clouds come close to love a rainy land

Before we lose your voice and raising praises
May these days and nights echo New Year stanzas..



Monday, 25 December 2017

THE GONZO CHRISTMAS TRACK OF THE DAY: A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector - Full Album

TOP TEN FOR 2017 Part Two 1-5

I have been compiling my top ten records of the year since about 2002, and I am an avid reader of everybody else’s as well. It is the time of year that everybpdy can get self opinionatged about their own tastes, and I have nopticed something peculiar this year; even the top tens produced by bloggefrs and magazines, which I regularly read because my tastes on the whole correspond with theirs, are completely different to my top twn. In most cases, there are no points of correlation. I always thought that I had fairly catholic tastes in music, but it appears that mine are far more mainstream than I thought. The thing that I’m trying to figure out now is whether my tastes are excessively banal, or whether the aforementioned writers either have impossibly obscure tastes or have deliberately choszen massively obscure records in order to show how hip they are…

This year I am being very brutal with myself. There have, after all, been some excellent records, which have not made it onto this list. But albums like Songs of Experience by U2, which released in early December, have just not been around long enough for me to be able to make a properly informed decision. However, a cursory investigation does suggest that they may have returned to form with this record.

Others, like Oczy Mlody by The Flaming Lips, are more problematical. Whilst undoubtedly a great album, it is still too wilfully impenetrable for it to be classed as one of this singular band’s great records. Sad, but true. And, another one of my favourite records of the year, J’Ouvert by Haitian producer Wyclef Jean turned out to have been first released in 2016, so it doesn’t count.

1. Roger Waters: Is This The Life We Really Want?

This record is something that I’ve been looking forward to, without much hope, for 30 years. After the release of Radio K.A.O.S. in 1987, there were almost immediately rumours that a new album, called Amused to Death, was imminent. Actually, it took about 5yrs, and when it arrived it was – to me, at least, although friends of mine think differently – a big disappointment. There seemed to be too much emphasis on sound effects, and Roger’s lyrics contain some of the most irritating writing that he has ever done. A couplet when he rhymed Chiang Kai-shek with “dirty rat” was particularly irksome. Since then, although we had all hoped for a return to form, there had been nothing but a few standalone studio tracks, several live albums, and an opera in French.
Then, this year, our Rog delivers the goods. And how! This scabrous album could well be described as the stylistic sequel to the Animals album, released by Pink Floyd 40yrs ago. However, it contains some wry humour, and – unusually for Rog – the jokes don’t suck. The sound is delightfully stripped down and claustrophobia, like a chamber ensemble version of Pink Floyd. It might just be the most successful solo album ever released by an alumnus of that fine band. The fact that it came totally out of left field when the artist responsible was approaching his 74th birthday makes it even more extraordinary. Animals took many pot shots at people like Mary Whitehouse, but this time it is Donald Trump who is firmly in Roger’s crosshairs. “Imagine a leader with no fucking brains”, he growls. This is an awesome record, and one which is now in my list of all-time favourite music. Well done Roger.

2. Gorillaz: Humanz

I have been an avid follower of this conceptual/cartoon band since their first album nearly 2 decades ago. I have always admired their environmentalist stance, and – as an admirer as Jamie Hewlett’s graphic novelisations – I have found the way that the ongoing saga of the four cartoon characters has been seamlessly woven into the ongoing musical narrative to be both innovative and entertaining!

Whilst this is a very good record, and certainly deserves to be included in my top 10, it is probably their weakest offering yet. And this is probably because – for the first time – the guest stars overwhelm the artistic input of main man Damon Albarn. And it is, after all, Albarn’s singular vision that one has grown to appreciate over the years. Although he became famous as front man of Blur, his work with Gorillaz, and his subsequent other projects have been stylistically far more inventive. Until now. This is an excellent sampler of contemporary hip hop styles, but somehow something has been lost. For the first time, the narrative seems obscured and sometimes even missing, and it doesn’t really feel like a Gorillaz record. Which is a great pity. It is still a bloody good album, though!

3. Neil Young: Promise of the Real

Neil Young is one of those irritatingly prolific artists, liked Frank Zappa or Prince. All 3 of them produced/produce enormous amounts of product, and as a result, some is obviously going to be better than others. Neil Young, in particular, has the artistically admirable trait of jumping off at tangents from the main arc of his career, to such an extent that it is well nigh impossible to judge what that ‘main arc’ is. He is also a doggedly curmudgeonly old sod, as referenced in his new online archive, which may feature freely listenable to copies of every record he has ever made, as well as a bunch of archive unreleased stuff, but is presented with such an eccentric search engine, that listening to records in a linear fashion is almost impossible. In the last 20yrs, he has released a whole slew of records, and I have loyally listened to them all. Some have been better than others, and some have been truly great, but – if I’m honest with myself – I have always been wanting to hear a record that has been as good as Harvest or After the Gold Rush, and none of them have come close. Neil Young is an irritatingly erratic talent, and his records this century have included country, soul, rock and avant-garde outings. So, I was not particularly enthusiastic when I heard that he had just released a new record. Boy, how wrong I was! I have done my best to be positive about all his other recent records, but the truth is that I have listened to all of them once or twice and then forgotten about them . This new record, however, for the first time in many years, bristles with ideas, and – even better – has lyrical and musical hooks which stick in your mind like post-it notes. It is too early to tell whether Promise of the Real is truly a career high, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it might be.

4. British Sea Power: Let the Dancers Inherit the Party

God, I love this band! They first burst into my consciousness back in 2002, when my buddy Jon Hare turned me on to them, and ever since then I have been an admirer of their peculiarly skewed vision. They are very much a British band, and their musical vision singularly reflects the sights and sounds of rural and liminal Britain. Let the Dancers Inherit the Party is a very strange album; the title implies that we should be dealing with some sort of post-modern disco record, but it is nothing of the sort. Imagine the dancers as being those jolly celebrants seen during the merry making scenes in The Wicker Man, and you might have some sort of inkling of what this record is all about. The word ‘pagan’ means – literally – someone who lives in the fields, in the same way that the word ‘heathen’ means someone who lives on the heath. I have no idea of the spiritual affiliations of the members of this band, and don’t really care, but – unusually for an indie/post-punk band – they have tapped into some strange zeitgeist, originally mined by Kipling’s people of the hills. This is a band that one has real issues trying to imagine staying in an inner city, and this new record simply magnifies and elaborates on their complex myth.

5. Peter Perrett: How the West was Won

The weird thing about punk was that the movement that the media perceived gathered together a whole bunch of disparate musicians who really had nothing much in common with each other, although most of them were fans of bands like the Velvet Underground, Television, or Hawkwind. One of the oddest of these strange bedfellows was a group called The Only Ones, which was fronted by a legendary dope dealer called Peter Perrett. Their most famous record was, of course, Another Girl, Another Planet, which had been released in 1978. But Perrett had very little in common with the other luminaries of the punk scene. The drummer of The Only Ones had been a member of ‘Spooky Tooth’, for example, and the bass plater had a pedigree which went back even further. The Only Ones were together from 1976 to 1982, after which Perrett disappeared for the next 12 years. He poked his head above the parapet again in the mid 90s for a couple of years, but disappeared again. These continued hiatuses have been blamed on serious drug problems. Then, bizarrely, The Only Ones reunited again in 2007 and have been going on ever since... on and off. But then in April this year, Perrett released How the West was Won, and it is a minor masterpiece. I have described it as being a cross between Blonde on Blonde and the first Modern Lover’s album. However, everybody I have used this description to has just laughed at me. So what do I know? What I do know is that the clever word play and down to earth acoustics of this record are irresistible, and I strongly recommend that you all go out and check it out, if you haven’t done so already.


THOM THE WORLD POET: The Daily Poem

Rob Ayling, yer Gonzo Grande Fromage, writes:

"Thom the World poet is an old mate of mine from way back in my history. Even pre-dating Voiceprint, when I was running "Otter Songs" and Thom's poetry tapes and guest appearances with Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth and Mother Gong are well known and highly regarded. It just felt right to include a daily poem from Thom on our Gonzo blog and when I approached him to do so, he replied within seconds!!! Thom is a great talent and just wants to spread poetry, light and positive energy across the globe. If we at Gonzo can help him do that - why not?


WORDS AS MUSIC
Sound poetry.Waves pounding@the door of  rocky beaches
Silences of moon kissing surfaces.Slap laps of tidal surges.
All this is water music/yet words are cups and buckets.
They leak in drips and drops/splash liquidities in syllables.
When you reject fresh language and resort to cliches
Then music becomes muzak,and every sound is retro riffed.
Speech is silver.Music may be Golden.Some is Fool's Gold.
A Gold Record means less than a word to the wise.
Use Your Language.It will find you @home
When even the Dark Night sings outside in wild winds
You can still lullabye.


Sunday, 24 December 2017

TOP TEN OF THE YEAR PART ONE 6-10

I have been compiling my top ten records of the year since about 2002, and I am an avid reader of everybody else’s as well. It is the time of year that everybody can get self opinionated about their own tastes, and I have noticed something peculiar this year; even the top tens produced by bloggers and magazines, which I regularly read because my tastes on the whole correspond with theirs, are completely different to my top ten. In most cases, there are no points of correlation. I always thought that I had fairly catholic tastes in music, but it appears that mine are far more mainstream than I thought. The thing that I’m trying to figure out now is whether my tastes are excessively banal, or whether the aforementioned writers either have impossibly obscure tastes or have deliberately chosen massively obscure records in order to show how hip they are… 

This year I am being very brutal with myself. There have, after all, been some excellent records, which have not made it onto this list. But albums like Songs of Experience by U2, which released in early December, have just not been around long enough for me to be able to make a properly informed decision. However, a cursory investigation does suggest that they may have returned to form with this record.

Others, like Oczy Mlody by The Flaming Lips, are more problematical. Whilst undoubtedly a great album, it is still too wilfully impenetrable for it to be classed as one of this singular band’s great records. Sad, but true. And, another one of my favourite records of the year, J’Ouvert by Haitian producer Wyclef Jean turned out to have been first released in 2016, so it doesn’t count. 


6. Gogol Bordello: Seekers and Finders

After a couple of albums, which, though not exactly lack lustre, didn’t really fulfil the promise of their first couple of records, it is nice to see that this globally diverse bunch of musical and stylistic misfits are back with a vengeance! For those of you who are not aware of them, the band, which is fronted by Ukranian born Eugene Hütz, mines a vaguely parallel cultural seam to that utilised by The Pogues three decades ago. However, whereas The Pogues never completely abandoned their roots in Celtic, and particularly Irish, music, Hütz, who comes from a Servo Roma background (these days it is not permissible to call them gypsies, although Hütz himself refers to the band as being ‘gypsy punks’) have their stylistic roots in klezmer and other Eastern European music. Seekers and Finders is their first record for four years, and is, in my humble opinion, their best since East Infection in 2005. This record doesn’t quite scale those heights, but then again, how could it? There are two minor nuances, which – to my mind – are really rather important here. First of all, it is the first of their albums produced by Hütz, and he has given them a wilder, more unleashed sound than on recent records, but it also their first album to be released on the legendary British label, Cooking Vinyl, a company with an admirable record on cutting artist-driven deals with their clients. I think, with this new arrangement, that Gogol Bordello have finally found an artistic home, where they can be nurtured, but still maintain their independence. 

7. Tricky: Ununiform

I actually met tricky quite a few years before I started listening to his music. In the dying years of the 20th century, he and I were making records at the same studio complex at the same time. His sold masses, and mine never got finished, and I haven’t even got the tapes anymore. That is probably for the best, as they weren’t terribly good. I am not very good at delineating between the modern styles of music, and – to me – RnB still means the Rolling Stones! However, I have been reliably informed that Tricky’s music is a mixture of trip hop, hip hop, ragga, and RnB (and no, he doesn’t sound like the Rolling Stones) and I am quite prepared to take that description at face value. What I can tell you is that this new album is quite possibly the most in intelligent and literate album he’s produced yet, and mixes insightful word play with strange, electronically treated beats, which wouldn’t, all in all, sound out of place on a Can album. I have a sneaking suspicion that it is the fact that Tricky has been (and probably always will be) labelled a ‘hip hop artist’ that will put most people who read this, whom I believe have their tastes rooted securely in the music of the 60s and 70s, to ignore it. And that would be a great pity. 

8. Yusuf Stevens: The Laughing Apple

When Yusuf returned to making pop records, 11 years ago, nobody was happier than I. And although these records have not reached the stellar heights of the albums that he released in his hayday, this is not entirely surprising. In fact, with the possible exception of Al Stewart and Roger Waters, I cannot think of any artists whose 21st century are as good as those from the height of his career. This is an interesting record on several fronts. First of all, it includes several songs that originally appeared on his second solo album from 1967. Apparently, he was never particularly pleased with it, and relished the opportunity to re-record them. Secondly, the record is produced by none other than Paul Samwell-Smith, who was, of course, the original bass player with the Yardbirds, leaving them in 1966, to be replaced by Jimmy Page. I have always been impressed with his production skills, with his 1973 album by Donovan being a particular favourite. It is difficult to explain why I like Samwell-Smith’s production so much, but somehow manages to combine the crisp clarity of the best modern recordings with a warm, organic feeling that is so often missing from them. Most of the media interest surrounding The Laughing Apple has been about the re-recordings, but I would not like to forget the fact that 6 of the 11 songs are brand new, and another has a completely new set of lyrics. It may not be Tea for the Tillerman but in a particularly unpleasant world, it is nice to know that the gentle hippy spirit which has always propelled Cat Stevens’ music is still alive and kicking! 

9. Morrissey: Low in High School

What have me and Morrissey got in common? Well, we are both good at pissing people off! In the run up to the release of this, the long awaited new album by the ex-Smiths frontman, Morrissey hit the promotional trail. In doing so, he managed to annoy all sorts of people across both the conventional media and its amateur counterpoint. He was accused of being racist, sexist, fascist and all sorts of other things with -ist on the end, and the album cover, which featured a young lad standing outside the gates of Buckingham palace brandishing an axe an a placard proclaiming ‘axe the monarchy’ managed to offend all sorts of people, just as it was meant to do (I strongly suspect). Again, I came late to appreciation of this charming man, only discovering that I actually liked his music about 15yrs ago. This is his 11th album, and is both musically and lyrically the most adventurous thing he has done since the Ringleader of the Tormentors back in 2006. One of the standout tracks for me is Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage, which was released as a single in early November, and is – in my opinion – probably the most successful of Morrissey’s third party stories to date. Sadly, I doubt whether anybody who’s not already a fan will get turned on by this album, however this is more by Morrisey – by his public statements and persona – does more to polarise people than nearly any other artist. I was particularly lucky to overcome my initial dislike of his work, which had lasted for nearly 2 decades; years which included me seeing him live on stage when he supported David Bowie in Exeter. Sadly, I think others will not be so lucky. 

10. Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghost Light

I have a long and strange relationship with Tim Bowness. I first heard of him many years ago, when I interviewed Steven Wilson of the Porcupine Tree, when he was visiting his first musical partner Malcolm somewhere on the edge of Dartmoor nearly 30yrs ago. He gave me some CDs, including some by his other band, No-Man, in which he collaborated with Bowness. I loved the records, which mixed the pop sensibility of the Pet Shop Boys with the feel and zeitgeist of the most accessible progressive British rock bands. And over the intervening three decades, I kept in touch with what both men were doing. A couple of years ago, I was commissioned to film Judy Dyble at a pastoral rock festival in Kent. I knew that she had collaborated with Tim Bowness, and I assumed that the piano player who was obviously acting as her MD was him. As it transpired, it wasn’t. But that is another story! This thing that’s most interesting about this new record by him is that it is a concept album revolving around the on-stage and back stage thoughts of a veteran musician, in a similar vein to some of the records made by Pete Townsend, featuring his fictional alter ego Ray High. Both conceptually and musically, this album is an absolute stunner, and I’m very pleased that – totally by accident – I came across it! 

MR BIFFO'S FOUND FOOTAGE : A Christmas Message 2017

SEASON'S GREETINGS FROM ALL OF THE GONZO DAILY/WEEKLY FOLK


THE GONZO CHRISTMAS TRACK OF THE DAY: SENSORIUM GIRLYBOX - IN DULCI SEXILO USA

THOM THE WORLD POET: The Daily Poem

Rob Ayling, yer Gonzo Grande Fromage, writes:

"Thom the World poet is an old mate of mine from way back in my history. Even pre-dating Voiceprint, when I was running "Otter Songs" and Thom's poetry tapes and guest appearances with Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth and Mother Gong are well known and highly regarded. It just felt right to include a daily poem from Thom on our Gonzo blog and when I approached him to do so, he replied within seconds!!! Thom is a great talent and just wants to spread poetry, light and positive energy across the globe. If we at Gonzo can help him do that - why not?

EXTRAORDINARY EXTRANEOUS EXTRUSIONS
When what you make begins to walk and talk
with a life force that becomes autonomous
And all the speling errors and poor grammar
Are now beyond correction(auto- or otherwise)
Then comes the question-what next?
Are we only as good as our latest artpiece?
Will each song poem stand up to the times?
What anthems on the lips of futures?
Can anything be fully resolved?
Are all conundrums periennal?
These bees buzz flowers of the future
while still in the garden of the present
As 2017 slips into a New Year costume
All that will refine ,define and decline her
Becomes caught like bee in amber
This is why linear time is a lie
When Eternity calls,and all we can offer
are songs of praise,poems of wonder


Friday, 22 December 2017

THOM THE WORLD POET: The Daily Poem

Rob Ayling, yer Gonzo Grande Fromage, writes:

"Thom the World poet is an old mate of mine from way back in my history. Even pre-dating Voiceprint, when I was running "Otter Songs" and Thom's poetry tapes and guest appearances with Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth and Mother Gong are well known and highly regarded. It just felt right to include a daily poem from Thom on our Gonzo blog and when I approached him to do so, he replied within seconds!!! Thom is a great talent and just wants to spread poetry, light and positive energy across the globe. If we at Gonzo can help him do that - why not?

WHERE DO HAIKU HIDE?
Where do haiku live?
In Gardens,among Seasons
In Earth,as in Stone

What do they tell us?
That life is brief and tragic
A comedy script

Who writes our life script?
The Garden that we live in?
Or our own Desire?

Where can we read these?
Wherever you create them-
Your own Life Wisdom!

Haiku Pathway

A serene garden path lined with 36 haiku stamped into clay stones. 

Along this pathway paved with poetry, 36 stones are scattered through the main courtyard of Santa Fe Community College. Each stone is engraved with a haiku, written by students at the school and notable poets from New Mexico.

CORKY LAING NEWS


THE first act confirmed to perform at an annual festival of blues, rhythm and rock music has been announced. The Whitby Blues Festival, held at Whitby Pavilion, will welcome Corky Laing from Canada, best known as the drummer in band Mountain. Mr Laing recorded with indie band The Mix in the ...

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM GONZO
#
Playing God
CD - £9.99

FRANK ZAPPA IN THE NEWS

77 years ago today, Frank Zappa was born in Baltimore, MD and would have been 77 today. Zappa died on 12/4/93 but had an unparalleled career as a musician, songwriter, composer, record producer, actor and filmmaker. Zappa produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with the ..
In addition to his 50th anniversary Frank Zappa shows, Dweezil Zappa will be delivering a series of guitar masterclasses while on tour next year, allowing aspiring guitarists to get a first hand glimpse of Zappa's inimitable two-string technique. “The way I learnt guitar was based around moving up and ...

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM GONZO


Frank Zappa is considered to be one of the most influential rock musicians of the late twentieth century. Between the start of his career in the late fifties and his death in 1993 he recorded and rele..


On September 19, 1985, Frank Zappa testified before the United States Senate Commerce, Technology, and Transportation committee, attacking the Parents Music Resource Center or PMRC, a music organizati..

 

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