Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Toast To the Dying

Lee Hazlewood - Friday's Child

Here's a hard-to-find chestnut from Lee's back catalogue. To me, this is where he really hits his stride. The first couple of albums kind of wear out that spoken intro shtick, so here he sticks to songs. The rest of his career is pretty well variations on the style he found on this one.

The reason for the post, of course, is the release of his new, and most likely final, album. We could all take a lesson from ol' Haze. He's surely dying, kidney cancer gone metastatic. But he had the time to squeeze out one final corker.

Cake or Death is the album that everyone thought Warren Zevon did a couple years ago. It is a fully formed (not perfectly formed, because that would eliminate Lee's greatest charm) statement. A couple of jokes, some looks back over his shoulder, an old debt repaid, then -pow- he goes out with the most bittersweet song about dying I've yet heard. I hope my sorry ass can face the final curtain with the humor and courage of my main man Lee.

Enjoy this one with a scotch on the rocks, maybe a cigar. Then, go buy the new one.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Gimme That Old Time Religion

The Louvin Brothers - Tragic Songs of Life

The Louvin Brothers weren't in one of these new-fangled new-age-hippy religions. Hell no, they were part of the old time, hell-fire-and-damnation church. The church of the fightin' Yahweh.

This is their first album, at least that I can find. It is made up of twelve songs of death, redemption, cheatin', lyin', stealin', drinkin', and the fires of hell.

Great cover, by the way. Capitol Records stuck with different variations of this model for pretty much all of their country albums all the way into the early '70s. Don't mess with success, I guess.

Crazy, Baby

The Shaggs

The Shaggs were three sisters from rural New England. Dad musta seen the Beatles, and decided that he was going to get *rich* off his daughters' talent. He bought 'em shiny and matching instruments and marched 'em down to the recording studio to make a record. And....

Of course, he blew the family wad on the instruments, and never got them any lessons. Or bought them a radio. Or gave them time to practice.

So, the girls wind up in a studio with no idea what rock music sounds like, or how to play or tune an instrument. And what you get is the most naive and guileless, yet totally random sound.

I've seen some people call this one genius. I'm unconvinced. I enjoy it for a couple songs at a time, but I don't think that there is a whole parallel universe musical structure here by any means. Just a bunch of kids trying to have some fun singing about their cat. Nothing wrong with that.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Danny On the Edge

Daniel Johnston - Respect

This seems to be the album where the "charmingly eccentric" Daniel starts to morph into the "danger to himself and others" Daniel. You can sort of hear the wheels coming off when you listen closely enough. There are a few Neu-ish sound collages that appear to indicate a new-found fondness for smokin' dope. Some of the song snippets are damn near incoherent in their weirdness. Within the year, he'd be institutionalized for the first time.

But this tape also contains some achingly beautiful parts. Just as you think he's disappearing down the rat hole, he kicks you in the side of the head with a wonderful pop hook. It's those hooks that made his early music such a joy to find in those dark mid-80s years.

When the glossy mags write about Danny, they pay more attention to the illness than the talent, and that kind of sucks. It's the same thing with a lot of artists. Quit picking on him. Either like the songs, or don't.
RIP, by the way, to Stress Records, the source of this tape. They have lost the rights to Dan's catalogue, which they have faithfully kept in print for twenty years. Stress was the hippest of the hip in the psychedelic revival.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Big IRA Shout-Out

Let's hear a round of huzzahs for a couple of kick-ass new (to me) blogs. Mutant Sounds and the Mystery Poster are locked in a death match for the coolest record collection on the net, with the obvious winners being the rest of us pobuckers. Follow their links to see what I'm talking about.

I'll declare the winner when one of you pops up one of the following three records: Moshe Mouse by Michel Magne, M Frog's record on Bearsville, or Vibing the Senile Man by Alternative TV. Whoever gets one of these first gets the IRA vote for the "Best Record Blog" Grammy. Let the games begin.

More Guitar Skronk

Sonny Sharrock - Black Woman

Since the first Sonny post has been a big hit, and I had it burned to CD already, let's toss out the second Sharrock record. Even though Monkey-Pockie-Boo is the one with the reputation, I find this to be the superior record.

First, there is more variety here. A couple parts almost sound like jazz, and there's a real cool acoustic interlude on side two. I also think that Linda's singing goes in more directions here.

Second, I think the band is better. These guys are clearly more used to playing out stuff. Try to dig what the rhythm section is doing throughout this record - it's really pretty neat. The recording quality is better than the first one, too, which allows the instruments to stand out a little more.

Anyway, this is really good stuff. If you are a guitar player, I'll highly recommend you put both of these records in frequent rotation. They'll help you get out of your rut every time.

If anyone has his Space Ghost soundtrack, I'd sure love to hear it. Can you help me out over here?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

More From Alice

Alice Coltrane - Universal Consciousness

Here's another Alice Coltrane record, as promised. This is one of my favorites of her solo albums. I hope you like it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

To Torture Or Not To Torture?

Sonny Sharrock - Monkey-Pockie-Boo

Sonny Sharrock was the most out-there of the out-there guitar players. His playing was like shards of glass zipping through the air - atonal, arrhythmic, ugly. I think of him as the Albert Ayler of guitar (a high complement from these parts)

This is maybe his most nuts album. It's a trio date with a French rhythm section, and includes his wife Linda in several parts. It came out on the BYG label in 1969.

My wife came into the room when I was burning it to CD from the vinyl. She made the observation that it sounded like a woman being tortured. Me, I think she sounds much more like she is imitating a screaming horn, probably a trumpet. Either way, she's taking Patty Waters a step farther in a way similar to Yoko. If you hate Yoko (for her music, not because she broke up the Beatles *yawn*), you should probably steer away.

But if you like Patty or Yoko, or if you like the most out jazz, you'll probably love this one. This is another of the NWW list, for those of you who care.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Worst Blue Eyeshadow Job, Ever

Kim Fowley - International Heroes

Look at that picture, will you. Keep in mind that Kim is also about 6'7" and around 130# (for those of you who work on meters and kilograms, that's really tall and really skinny). This is the kind of thing that gives the most fearless people nightmares.

Kim Fowley has always majored in shock value. Dig his record titles: Outrageous, Good Clean Fun, I'm Bad, Animal God of the Streets, etc. This record is the best of a few that grab on the glam movement to shock the pinks.

I really like this record. It's much higher budget than Kim usually gets, and he uses the big productions to nice effect. When you surround him with background singers and let the players rehearse beforehand, you get to see how good the compositions are without being distracted by the low-budget production values.
Even though a lot of money went into the making of this record, it must have stiffed. There don't seem to be a lot of copies around, and I've never seen a reissue of it. Still, if you like Kim, this is one of his best.
Oh, and this link is still active for another hard to find Fowley rekkid, his first:

Friday, January 19, 2007

Odds and Ends

Here's a few things that have fallen between the cracks. Let's fix that.

More Edgar Varese, this time the Music of... v. 2. Two part file:

The first Lou Reed solo album. Enh. I got this from somewhere else, but I don't remember where.

The second Mecki Mark Men record (Running Through the Night?). Again, someone asked a while ago, and I forgot to put it up.

Brute Force, Confections of Love. Why are you clowns not all over this? It's genius.

Jazzactual, records 1-3. I must have somehow deleted the original post.

The Paul Bley Synthesizer Show. This is really cool. Features NWW artist Annette Peacock.

That is all.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny

Edgard Varese - The Complete Works, v. 1

Probably most of you first heard of Edgard via Frank Zappa, who was a big fan. If you've ever listened to any of his orchestral works, from Lumpy Gravy to the Yellow Shark, you'll be at home with this record. You can certainly hear Varese's style throughout Frank's work.

This is stuff to listen to closely. At first, it can sound a bit off in the harmonic structure. But as you listen to it, you'll understand that it is meant to be dissonant in parts. In fact, the use of dissonance for longer stretches is a big way this is different from older orchestral works. As is the reliance on percussion to carry melody.

This is an earlier record (came out in 1950), so the electronic / musique concrete stuff isn't here yet. Don't let that steer you away, though.

If people like this, I'll put up some later works. Let me know.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Wild Ass Garage Rock From New Zealand

Chants R&B - Stage Door Witchdoctors

This is a kick ass comp of garage rock from New Zealand (where is the old one, by the way? Is it Zeeland, MI? Probably not, because it is spelled differently). Like a lot of Austr/NZ garage rock, it's got the balls-to-the-wall dementia thing cold.

I'd liken this one to the Missing Links. If'n you like that, you'll like this too. Like the 'Links, the material is kinda spotty - lots of covers or borrowed riffs - but they sell it with real live conviction.

Other than that, not too much to say. Just a good solid garage comp.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Important Music

The Plastic People of the Universe - Egon Bondy's Happy Hearts Club Banned

Lots of bands like to think that they are doing something important. Few are. This one did.

The Plastic People formed right after Prague Spring, when the USSR troops came in and clamped down on all that messy freedom stuff. These guys paid the price over the years as Czech society became more repressive. Many of them went to jail.

This is the first document of their existence to be smuggled out to the Western world. It is thought to have been recorded around 73 or 74, but it wasn't released until 1978. As a political statement, it really can't be topped. As a purely musical expression, it's really good.

The PPU were clearly influenced by the Mothers and the Fugs and the Velvets, which is a great palate to work from. The Eastern European touches, especially in the modes that they use, give it a real unique flavor. The translated lyrics make it clear that they were pretty crass and pretty funny. I included the translated title names to give readers a feel for this.

The PPU were part of a group of artists, rabblerousers, and intellectuals that included Vaclav Havel. This group of people was responsible for a big part of a larger movement that helped to bring down the Soviet Empire. Let's see Bono top that.

This is another item from that NWW list of rare and weird recordings. I'll try to get another one or two of those up here this week. Burned from vinyl, and the recording source probably wasn't so hot to begin with, so the sound ain't super purdy. But the best stuff rarely is.

Re-ups: by request

Simon Finn:

Bill Plummer:

Lots of new stuff coming this week, stay tuned.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

RIP Alice Coltrane

John Coltrane - Live At the Village Vanguard Again

Alice Coltrane died today at age 69. Let's take a minute to remember one of the last of the giants.

That's right. I called her one of the giants. You want to make something of it? She took a lot of shit in her day - the Yoko of jazz, kind of. But she didn't deserve it (neither did Yoko, but that's another post).

Don't believe me? Have a listen to this one. McCoy Tyner was and is a bad-ass piano player, and a hard act to follow with Trane's band. But where McCoy was all spiky and angular, with oddball voicings and suspended fourths, Alice was calm as an ocean breeze.

And putting that calm underneath the big round tone of JC, even with the antics of Pharoah, gave this music a devotional feel that noone else can match. This is one of my favorite jazz joints ever, so give it a try.

I can hear you whiners now: oh, sure, she can hold her own among titans, but her own albums... Give me a couple days, and I'll show you that her solo records are the goods, as well.

You Think You're Bored...

Destroy All Monsters - Bored

This is a record I had wanted to hear for a long time before I found it. This is where Ron Asheton went after he was in the Stooges.

They were a band before Ron signed up, though. There are some lo-fi recordings of some pretty out-there stuff from the mid-70's - much more jazz and free rock than what you'll get here.

By this time, though, they are in a pretty punk rock with noises phase. Trust me, there's better examples of this genre out there. I find this one pretty shrill.

In their defense, I don't think this was ever planned as a record. It's really a couple singles and probably some rehearsal tapes or something. And from what I hear, this is a band that had to be seen to be understood.

If any of you really enjoy this, please post a comment and tell me what I'm missing.

Learn Your Future, After It Happens

Criswell - The Amazing Criswell Predicts Your Future!

Criswell was a low-rent and campy soothsayer from Hollywood. If you know him, it's probably from his role in Plan 9 From Outer Space, which should tell you all you need to know about this record.

This record came out in about 1970. The predictions went up to about 1999, or as he called it, the end of the world.

For any prognosticator, the proof of their talent is the accuracy of their predictions. Here, Criswell is at times eerily prescient. For example, he predicts the political rise of the American south, the women's rights movement, unisex glam fashions, and maybe even Osama Bin Laden.

Of course, he misses a couple too. We don't yet live in Jetsons-type space houses. Men have not gone extinct. But what the hell, sometimes the looking glass gets a little cloudy.

New Blog

Welcome to Too Many Sounds Unfound. There's some cool stuff on there, hopefully more to come in the future. Link on the left - check it out.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Re-ups: Pharoah Sanders Quintet

Sorry for the wait on some of the others, I'm snowed in, and can't get to the store to get any blanks. Soon....

Thursday, January 11, 2007

And Another Quick One

Sly Stone - Live '68

Sly started with a positive and happy good vibes show. Somewhere around '69 or '70, he developed a menacing tone that made his records very interesting, but made his attendance at gigs a bit spotty. Here he is before the dope got its hooks in him too badly.

Sorry, no track list for this. But, hell, you all know these songs anyway, right?

The Captain Treads Water

Captain Beefheart - Lick My Decals Off, Baby
This, along with most of the Bizarre / Straight catalogue, is not currently available in any authorized version. That sucks. Someone should fix it. This, Starsailor, Farewell Aldebaran, Lucille, An Evening With.., Hip Aristocrat - some great stuff here.
That said, this record is a hell of a lot less obscure than the usual IRA posting. Probably, a lot of you already have it. But if you don't, here you go.
Pretty much every record CBATMB put out before Unconditionally Guaranteed was a major move from the one before it. This is the one time where an album came out sort of like the one before it. For that reason, it is probably my least favorite of the string from Safe As Milk through Clear Spot. But even so, I really like this record. And I think it is the first one of them I had all those years ago.
OK, so it's not *exactly* like Trout Mask Replica. There's some marimba, and the recording is a little less field sounding. After this one, he went to a little more of a stripped down sound for Spotlight Kid, a very underrated record.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Their Favorite Tour Spiels

The Minutemen - Ballot Result

Tour spiel is the Minutemen term for a song about touring. 99% of tour spiels suck - think Turn the Page, for example. The other 1% are by the Minutemen.

The Minutemen are more than 20 years gone, a fact that took me by surprise when I saw that documentary about them (you haven't seen that yet?, why not?) I saw these guys on one of their last tours in the summer of '85, and they were phenomenal.

This lp was put together after D. Boon's car crash, and it was based on the results of fan polling for their favorite songs (hence the title). These are almost all live and alternate versions, with a couple of unreleased things popping in here and there.

The Minutemen tend to be remembered as part of the SoCal hardcore scene. Fair enough, but they sound *nothing* like those bands. They had a real supple funk feel that still holds up well today. The sound quality on this is spotty, but it really doesn't matter - hell, the sound quality on their main releases sucks, too.

Rock trivia: Mike Watt from this band is the new bass player for the reformed Stooges. Great choice, because Mike is the man.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Canadian Christian Cranks

The New Creation - Troubled

The New Creation were a Vancouver BC band made up of mom, son, and other chick. None of them could sing, play an instrument, or write a song at anything near a professional level. They believed very strongly in the Christian religion.

Sound like a good basis for a rock band? I thought so. If you like the Shaggs, this one is for you. It doesn't quite have the jaw-dropping lack of structure, but it comes as close as anything else I've heard.

The lyrics are absolutely bizarre. I privately think that their obsession with bad behavior like dope and sexual deviance is a defense mechanism against sublimated desires, but I think that about most religious cranks. Anyway, I doubt their version of the gospel is going to win many converts to the cause.

Like a lot of records, the best thing is the first track. It is an absolutely amazing sound collage that will be on all of your mix tapes from this point forward. This was briefly reissued a few years back, but is back out of print. Get it now, because it probably won't get reissued any time soon.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Favorites of 2006

We spend a lot of time looking far backward here in the IRA, but that is more an artefact of the 'rare and out of print' criteria for blog posts. What, then, are the greats of today? And why on Earth would we wait until AFTER the new year to print the obligatory best of '06 list?

OK, a few things.
1) It's not a list of the best of 2006. That implies a level of objectivity and a breadth of listening I couldn't hit if I were sober.
2) I'm a jackass, and I hate everything.
3) My budget got tight last year, and I didn't buy as many new things as I do most years.

I'll respectfully submit that we'll look back in 20 years at 2006 as the year that the great creative burst of the new millenium petered out. Each of the last several years found a dozen or more new bands that really seemed unique and special. This year, eh, not so much. Fully half of my year end favorites are dinosaurs - 20 years old or more.

THE IRA FAVORITES OF 2006 (In no particular order):

Espers: Espers II (OK, this is my favorite, the rest are in no order)
Great mix of well-miked folky guitars, breathy women, and out electronics. Could have been made any year between 1974 and tomorrow. Hot poop.

Joanna Newsom: Ys
Gosh, this is a nice record. The Malvina Reynolds singing voice, the crazy-ass lyrics, the oblique song construction (no verse/chorus, this), the Van Dyke Parks charts - this has got it all. I think a lot of folks find this irritating, and of course it is, but don't hold that against it. This is the record that everyone seems to think that the Fiery Furnaces make.

Television Personalities: My Dark Places
Great to have Danny back. Continues right where he left off, which I think is near the top of his game. I love the downer vibe.

Sparks: Hello Young Lovers
How weird is it for a band that has been up and down for 30 years to all of the sudden put out two albums that are stone masterpieces? Their last two albums have been a couple of the best of the decade. If you missed them, you suck.

Matmos: The Rose Has Thorns
I don't usually go for this type of thing, but the feels are so varied, that it works. I'm surprised not to see this on a lot of the Mojo/Uncut type of year end lists.

Scott Walker: The Drift
Of course, it's a great album. Since when are his not? I'm afraid he might be in a rut. I hope the 2013 release is a bit of a change of pace.

Flaming Lips - At War With the Mystics
Speaking of a rut, I think that the critics were pretty hard on this one. C'mon guys. Quit with the backlash. There's some great pop songs on here. It's better than the last one, and y'all called that album of the year.

Boris: Pink
I saw them live this year, and they were the bomb. I felt like I'd had a kidney massage when they were done. They kicked the shit out of both Earth and Sunn, a coupla mighty bands, themselves. I still think they've got a better one in them.

OM: Conference of the Birds
These guys do a single thing, and I'm convinced that pretty much every song is built off a variation of the same bass riff, but it sounds so damn good. Man, that bass tone is a-frickin-mazing.

Milman-Brignall Enigma: Bafflemania
Raise your hand if you expected this. A second-line veteran of the '70's NY punk scene makes a comeback with a CD that covers all the bases from Appalachian folk to crooning to psychedelia to avant garde tape loops. Sometimes the ambition is bigger than the execution, but that adds to the fun. I think at least one of these guys on this album is a regular IRA reader, so say nice stuff about it.

Bonnie Prince Billy: The Letting Go
A nice bounceback from that Superwolf / live album pairing of duds. A middling BPB album kicks the shit out of 99% of the mere mortal output.

Robert Pollard: From a Compound Eye
Again, a middling GBV-related release is better than the Mojo top ten list. Let's see that damn Jack White try and hang with uncle Bob.

I'm sure that there's a couple others that'll occur to me over the next couple days. Please post stuff that you think ought to be here. You'll probably be right. I just haven't heard it yet.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Never Trust a Hippy

The Soft Boys - A Can of Bees

I first heard about the Soft Boys as a punk / new wave band from England. OK, in the US middle west, we weren't the hippest of the hip, but that's how they were sold to me at the record shop. That was and is horseshit. I know hippies when I hear them.

With that aside, this is a pretty good album, although I like it a good deal less than I did when I first got it. Like a lot of the psychedelic revival stuff of the '80's, this tends to emphasize wackiness over songwriting, and suffers from a bit of poor sound. Then again, they were here five years before just about anyone else.

Or else, about eight years too late. Lead Softie Robyn had been poking around Canterbury for a long time prior to this coming out from what I understand. But who cares about that. It doesn't affect this platter one bit.

On the next two - Underwater Moonlight and Invisible Hits - they did a better job of mixing popcraft in with the goofy stuff. Still, this one is worth hearing, and oddly has been out of print for a long time. Why is that, when every solo album of Robyn's for every obscure label in Britain is still available from somebody?

Thursday, January 4, 2007


Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson - Bridges
Let me just start out by saying that this is one of my all-time favorite albums. I find it damn sad that it has never been released on CD. This was the next planned release in the ambitious GSH re-issue program on TVT when legal troubles hit.
This album was a pivotal one in Gil's career, and the start of a new phase. His first few albums on Flying Dutchman were jazz and poetry, similar to the Last Poets stuff, but with a little more singing. Then, as Brian Jackson started playing a bigger role, he moved toward a proto-world beat sound. Here, he pinches Malcolm Cecil and his TONTO synth banks from Stevie Wonder, and moves into funk territory.

And, man, is his voice suited for it. This is pure thinking man's funk. Songs about nuclear meltdowns, watching the Steelers, dancing in France, syphilis, and racial politics in the south spread the word without sounding strident or bitchy. And Brian Jackson's synth lines keep the booties shaking long into the night.

From here, Gil's albums grew increasingly unfocused, probably as his drug problems grew worse. Still, each of the later albums has got a corker or three, even the 1993 "comeback" Spirits.

America could sure use a new Gil Scott-Heron to talk some goddam sense into it. Last time I saw him in concert, probably about '98 or so, he was amazing. Came out and just started rapping about politics, history, telling jokes. Obviously wasted. Pretty soon, without the crowd even noticing, he'd slipped into a nice electric piano groove. A couple minutes later, and a few more jokes and stories, a band popped out. Then, the game was on for about 45 precious minutes. I'll never see its like again.

Damn it Gil, get off the pipe and save your country, will ya?

The Most Irritating Great Album Ever?

Robin Gibb - Robin's Reign

The Bee Gees broke up briefly in the late '60's over a brotherly spat about whose song deserved to be the next flop single for the band. Barry won, Robin left, and we got Robin's Reign.

For those of you who don't follow the Bee Gees very closely, Robin is the one with the overdone vibrato voice. Think I Started a Joke, or Holiday. Now picture an entire album of this. With orchestrations.

Still here? Good, you're my kind of reader. Because you realize that sometimes the best entertainment requires a little pain.

This is the kind of record that will clear a room as fast as any modern classical noise record could. And your friends will make fun of you for listening to it. But they won't get that each one of these overblown catewauling laments is a genius level pop nugget. So fuck 'em.

If you like this, leave a note, and I'll consider posting the unreleased second, and even *more* overblown Robin record.


Welcome to the Invisible Record Archive, the continuing story of the Palestinian Light Orchestra. The PLO is now the IRA, but otherwise, we'll still be doing the same old same old. Sharing records, rating music, talking shit.

Our move was necessitated by the changes in Blogger - the old blog had an old email account, and I couldn't figure out how to get back into it. But as the Irish say, c'est dommage, let's get a brand new start.

So here's the good news: the few day lag has given me a chance to finish burning some choice slabs of vinyl to digital format for some bad-ass new postings. More good news? The old blog will still sit there and contain active links, at least as long as you drunkards keep clicking them.

The link to the old blog is Hopefully, some of you frequent visitors and friends can update your PLO links to include the IRA. I'll do the same over the weekend.