Thursday, January 24, 2008


Review By George Starostin:

By that time the group was already officially disbanded, but this album cannot be qualified as an 'archive document': its release was pre-planned and they even wanted to repeat the format of Wheels, but there just wasn't enough studio material, so they agreed on a mini-scheme: one side live, one side studio. Even with that, the studio side is one of the shortest in history - just three middle length songs. (I haven't seen the LP, but I might suggest that the third live cut could have been put on the second side; otherwise, the time balance is really unjustified). Out of these, 'Badge' is unarguably the best, being co-written by Clapton with George Harrison (who appears on the credits as 'L'Angelo Misterioso' on rhythm guitar): however, it should be pointed out that it's by now much more associated with Clapton's solo career than with Cream: it's long since become a stage favourite, and one can hardly imagine a Clapton live show without him putting it on and having the entire audience chanting the stupid 'love is my badge, love is my badge' refrain which wasn't even present on the original recording: it was later 'ad libbed' by Eric in order to justify the song title. He forgot to edit the nonsensical psychedelic lyrics, though, so the contrast between the improved refrain and lines like 'I told you not to venture out in the park, I told you about the swans that they live in the park' is kinda strange. In any case, this studio version, with 'mystical' guitar overdubs and fabulous harmonies, is superior to any subsequent live ones - although I'd highly recommend the one off Rainbow Concert, where Pete Townshend fabulously 'deconstructs' the rhythm part in his own unique way.
The other two are downers. Jack contributes the childish electric piano disaster 'Doing That Scrapyard Thing' (what thing exactly, Jack?) that hardly measures up even to his solo records which I'm not a terrible fan of: it manages to be somewhat catchy, but at the expense of good taste. The goofball vocal intonations on the third line of each verse make me sick, and he even makes Eric's guitarwork to seem clumsy and obnoxious. As for Ginger's 'What A Bringdown', it really builds on the legacy of 'Pressed Rat And Warthog' which is not a compliment. Then again, on a general level it's still better; there are some fast parts, there's a strange disturbing atmosphere all over the place, there's some catchiness, and it does feature some nice thunderstormy guitarwork near the end, when Eric picks up the wah wah, twists it, distorts it and brews up a real tempest. But only for a few moments.
Plus, the re-issue of the album is somewhat improved since it has 'Anyone For Tennis' - a flop single from 1968 (it was earlier issued at the tail end of some Wheels Of Fire pressings). It's a very nice psycho ditty that came from Eric's hand. He himself hated it, but I find it silly and charming, even though it really doesn't belong to this record. But imagining it as some kind of a 'swan song' for one of the greatest psychedelic bands in existence is pretty easy, and I suppose we should just close our eyes on the chronological misplacing. 'Anyone for tennis, wouldn't that be nice?'
Anyway, amateurs are nevertheless recommended to stick away from this record and let the diehard fans come in and grab it for side A - three more live cuts which add little to the Wheels Of Fire legacy but are at least different. The nine-minute 'I'm So Glad' is rambling but features some great speedy Clapton solos - some of the fastest, in fact, he's ever layed down on record. The slightly shortier 'Politician' features some more great Clapton vibrato solos, some of the most vibrating he's ever layed down on record. And the five-minute 'Sitting On Top Of The World' features... guess what. Actually, the solos on the last one surpass even the studio version, making it probably the second most important live Cream song you have to own after 'Crossroads'. My real complaint here is that the recording engineers should be shot! The sound on Wheels Of Fire was loud, bright and comprehensible; here, everything sounds so muddy you hardly hear Clapton at all - especially on the most crucial moments of 'I'm So Glad'. Bruce, on the other hand, is mixed incredibly high - you'd think the audiences went over to the Fillmore East to hear his bass. Not that it's bad - it's amazing, but you sometimes wonder whether you are really listening to a nine-minute bass solo...
Overall, this is only recommendable for huge fans. I could give it a low seven, if it weren't so blatantly short: but any decent Cream hits collection includes 'Badge', and the amateur can safely sleep without any feelings of remorse that he hasn't heard the others. The studio stuff, good or bad, shows the band as nothing but three solo performers serving as backing groups to each other, just like the Beatles on the White Album; the days of brilliant idea-exchanging are long gone by. (By the way, it is rumoured that during the band's last tour, they hated each other so much they always arrived and departed in separate limousins). Unfortunately, quite unlike the Beatles, all three of the songwriters manage to really suck (do you really think Clapton's the real author for 'Badge'? Okay, so he is, for half of the song. That's no big compliment, either). The album cover is cool, though: as if these three were perfect friends

Cream-Goodbye @320

1) I'm So Glad
2) Politician
3) Sitting On Top Of The World
4) Badge
5) Doing That Scrapyard Thing
6) What A Bringdown
7) Anyone For Tennis

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jimi Hendrix-Woke Up This Morning And Found Myself Dead

Info By Wikipedia:

This Album was recorded by Hendrix himself at New York's Scene Club in March 1968. Contrary to urban legend, however, Johnny Winter was not included in the lineup. During track 3, Jim Morrison of the Doors joins the band onstage and remains onstage until Uranus Rock, when he leaves after twice knocking the microphone over.
This recording has been released under a number of titles including High, Live, 'N Dirty, Bleeding Heart, Sunshine of Your Love, Live at the Scene Club and Red House

"The music contained herein has been left as it was that night at Scene Club - rough, but with the raw dynamism of Jimi's guitar to the fore. Extolling the licks of his mentors - the Delta Blues and Alberts' King and Collins. Also present is Jim Morrison, cavorting about the stage exceedingly drunk and happy, much to the bemusement of everyone!"

@320 Artwork Included

1 Red House
2 Woke up this Morning and Found Myself Dead
3 Bleeding Heart
4 Tomorrow Never Knows
5 Morrison's Lament
6 Uranus Rock
7 Outside Woman Blues
8 Sunshine of Your Love

Part 1:
Part 2:

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Grateful Dead-The Grateful Dead

Review By George Starostin:

Most Deadheads pan the band's debut, saying it sounds nothing like their 'classic' sound and they hadn't yet grown into their unique style. This is true, and definitely the main reason for me liking it quite a bit. See, when the Grateful Dead formed out of several different shards and smithereens of their former bands, they weren't exactly driven together by the will to experiment and come up with a radically new type of music. They were nothing but a bunch of cool Californian guys with some playing experience behind their backs - Garcia with more of a folky background; Lesh, if I'm to believe the liner notes, from "electronic music" background, which pretty much makes him the only 'experimental' element back then; and the others from various rock bands. And at this point, the band's musical direction was primarily indicated by Pigpen, with his love for blues and R'n'B and cool Hammond organ tone which is actually more audible on this particular record than Jerry's guitar.And I like it. It is definitely untrue that the album sounds nothing like their further stuff. Well, it definitely sounds nothing like the subsequent two studio albums, where the Dead plunged headlong into lethargic psychedelia. But many of the tunes on here aren't that far removed from their country/folk "retro-fication" on Workingman's Dead and later on; not to mention that more than half of the songs on here made it into the regular Deadshow, and stayed there at least until the passing of Pigpen, and some even further. The crucial difference is they rock, and they rock much more than anything the Dead have created ever since.
The very opening of the record, those distorted electric chords and the slightly fuzzy organ tone of 'The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)', show that pumping up the energy level was by no means a technique unknown to the Dead in those early days. In fact, when two rocking guitars, a rocking organ, and loud, almost "brawny", harmonies all join together, it results in a wall-of-sound effect that is radically opposed to the 'classic' thin, wimpy Deadsound. You can find similar melodies all over their career, but a similar sound? Only on a particularly energetic live night, I guess.
Another thing is that on this record, they're no sworn enemies of fast tempos. 'Beat It On Down The Line' is lively, friendly, and toe-tappy all over, and still rendered quite "Deadly" because of Pigpen's identifiable organ playing. And I totally dig their reworking of 'Sitting On Top Of The World', here turned into a fast, frantic shuffle which makes its point in a breathtakingly short span of two minutes, replete with a nimble solo from Mr Garcia (I presume), shining in all of its Chuck Berry-ish glory. 'Cold Rain And Snow' and 'New New Minglewood Blues' are slightly less involving in terms of power, but more interesting from a melodic point of view, especially the former with its optimistic organ 'interludes' and stuff - no wonder it readily made it back into their concert set when they started moving away from psychedelia.
Of course, the record isn't free of some of that "sterile" approach to the blues that is already rearing its ugly head in the Deadcamp. 'Good Morning Little Schoolgirl' is much shorter here than it is on any of the band's live records, but actually feels longer than some of the better live versions, because it emphasizes Pigpen strutting his stuff rather than tight interplay between the band members. And their rendition of the folkie ballad 'Morning Dew' I find myself respecting much more than actually falling for - which supposedly means they don't manage to capture the song's tragic essence, even if they try to. Heck, I'll take the Rod Stewart, or even the inventive-as-hell Nazareth version of the song, over the Dead version any day.
That said, the best treat comes at the end in the form of the ten-minute 'Viola Lee Blues'. Now that's a real monster of a jam if there ever was one. Go ahead Deadheads and crucify me, but the Dead never, and I repeat, never did a more murderous instrumental sequence in their entire career than the steam-raising crescendo in the middle of this tune. It doesn't hint at much when it begins, just a standard riff-driven blues-rocker with an occasional "initiation of a rock solo" that quickly dissipates into oblivion, but then somewhere around the fourth minute the Dead are starting to exercise in "math-rock", gradually pushing up the valves and handles and spinning up the dials and blowing up the pistons and increasing the tempo and playing more notes per second and zooping up the bass fretboards and crashing the cymbals and inserting splinters of funky rhythms and suddenly pushing Pigpen's psychedelic organ riffs to the top of everything and then making Garcia solo with even more aggression on top of these riffs and then Pigpen starts rising the volume even higher and then Garcia breaks into an ass-kicking repetitive rock'n'roll phrase and they start hitting higher and higher "stingey" chords and going into trills and barrages of chords and then poof! - it is over. Yeah, believe it or not, I just described (as best as I could) an actual Grateful Dead jam which is not a 'Dark Star' or a 'The Eleven' by any means.
Which leads us to the obvious conclusion - if you hate the Dead more than filling in tax declarations, this is the only album of theirs that can possibly impress you. But if you love the Dead more than the living, you will probably be ready to join the chorus of those who are always ready to point out how it is not a "true" Dead album. In fact, I'm not even sure if they were stoned while recording it. And besides, it's the only Grateful Dead album where you'll find a clean-shaven Jerry Garcia looking at you from the front cover. If that ain't a reason for exchanging your entire collection of dried butterflies for something musically-related, I don't know what is.

The Grateful Dead-The Garteful Dead @320 Artwork Included

1) The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)
2) Beat It On Down The Line
3) Good Morning Little School Girl
4) Cold Rain And Snow
5) Sitting On Top Of The World
6) Cream Puff War
7) Morning Dew
8) New New Minglewood Blues
9) Viola Lee Blues

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year To Everybody