Tonight my band No Show Ponies will be playing at Hole in the Wall in Austin at 9pm. I try not to over promote my own shit on here, as I want this site to have value in and of itself. However, tonight is a special show as my brother moved away a year ago and this is one of the very few times we may get to play music together for the immediate future. Above is a Joe Strummer song that we often cover. “Going to the Mountaintop”!
If you want to hear us here is a link to our record that we recorded two years ago in Austin with Ramsay Midwood at the helm. Recording mostly live to some quarter inch analog tape. You can stream the album in full.
A musician friend has helped usher me into the world of Lee “Scratch” Perry and Black Ark studios. I have long known about Perry as a great reggae and dub producer, but he has been recording for so long, and his discography is so immense, that I think I stayed away because I didn’t know where to start. When I was first getting into classical music and jazz about a year ago I faced the same problem. How do you navigate your way into a new scene, when you know next to nothing? The sheer amount of something can be intimidating. How do you discern good from bad? With a limited budget, how do you make the right choices when buying something? It helps to be pointed in the right direction and then you find many other doors opening along the way. For classical music I bought a book. For jazz I asked my friends to suggest records.
The Perry produced record that was first suggested to me was The Congos album Heart of the Congos. This is not only one of the best reggae albums ever, but a great place to start understanding what makes Perry’s work so unique. It’s essentially a reggae record, with great songs and melodies, but the production features many of the unique sonic qualities that differentiate Perry from producers that came before him. From there you can decide if you want to explore more of his reggae productions, or if you want to get into the weirder world of dub. I think it’s a great entryway into his world as it is both unique and accessible.
The Ultimate Lee Scratch Perry Album Guide
The link above, while no means definitive, is a great overview of his lengthy career. It gives you a sense of his accomplishments and highlights some of his better works, if not all of them. Heart of the Congos is strangely given only a sentence.
The above video is Perry recording in Black Ark studios. It’s inspiring to see someone accomplishing something so imaginative in a situation that is very low tech by today’s standards.
If you are someone that loves records and recorded sound, his work is definitely a world that you want to explore. Not only is it innovative in and of itself, but it has influenced modern music in immense and unmeasurable ways.
Richard Goldstein On the 60’s
Above is a Rolling Stone interview with music critic Richard Goldstein, who has been working since 1966. I was interested by some of the social commentary in the interview. A sample (Especially read the second part of the answer, where I feel he is dead right.):
There seemed to be some disappointment in the book, a feeling and desire for change that maybe didn’t quite come through.
I think the Sixties produced a lot of changes. Multiculturalism comes from the Sixties. So does feminism, gay liberation, environmentalism, sexual freedom in general — even veggie burgers. A lot of things people take for granted today come from that decade. Most people had better lives as a result of the Sixties. But what didn’t change is the social justice agenda: equality. We’re less equal than we were as a society, and certainly racial justice has never been achieved. This was a huge priority. Almost everything of importance in the Sixties had something to do with race, including the music. Black music became front and center in a major way — black music by black people. And that’s never changed.
All of the things that did change were economically profitable. Multiculturalism created a new market. Feminism has, unfortunately, meant a cheap labor force. Gay liberation, gay marriage, means a new wedding industry. The things that didn’t change are things that demand that you give people money. Like racial justice. It means there has to be a program that redresses poverty — so it costs money. Same with economic equality: You have to tax people and distribute the wealth. These things failed. So to the extent that we thought we were changing the world…we were only making new markets. And we ended up as an advance force for the free-market economy. Maybe this is the way things work in history; I’m not saying we failed. But I certainly think our major goals in terms of justice were defeated.
Playing historic Gruene Hall tonight with Shinyribs. Get your tickets now as there is a good chance it will sell out. Show starts at 9pm, we go on around 10:30pm.
Tomorrow night I am playing with No Show Ponies, as my brother has returned to Austin for a month. Show starts at 9pm and is at Hole in the Wall.
Five Star Reggae Albums
I have been listening to reggae and dub the last few days. As much reggae, and its surrounding genres, as I own, there is an infinite amount more that I don’t. Sometimes when you first approach a kind of music it can be intimidating for the sheer amount of it that exists. Where do you start? I found this today. It provides a link to every reggae album rewarded five stars by allmusic.com. Hopefully this can thin the herd for you a little. No list is perfect, but this one can at least give you some ideas. Even if you know about some or even many of the records, it is fun to read the reviews, if you are into that sort of thing.
America Lost the Cold War
I am using part of the title of the original article, but the article is much more complex than the title suggests. It is a look at the geopolitical realities across the globe as they have been and now are. It is a long read, but if you are interested in history and politics, it is worth it.
David Lynch’s Music Supervisor Giving Away New Solo Album
Dean Hurley, who has worked as a music supervisor for David Lynch, is giving away a new solo album. The link above is to the article and if you click on the free download will give you a zip for the record which you can download to your iTunes. The vocals are all old soul samples, while somehow the music is inspire by Hans Zimmer’s score for, wait a minute, Days of Thunder! It sounds like a strange concept for sure, but I am willing to give it a try as I love his work with Lynch and also with singer Chrysta Bell.