In memoriam, Jerry Garcia (August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995)

Twenty-five years ago, when Jerry Garcia passed on this day in 1995, I was jaded and angry. Still reeling with unprocessed grief from the death of my only sibling a few years earlier, I had distanced myself from the scene I had once felt an affinity to (which had grown increasingly sketchy in the 1990s anyway). I refused to leave my apartment, stayed in bed most of the day, steadfastly avoiding the vigil in the park down the street from me filled with people tearful over somebody they “knew” as an abstract entity.  He was deified as a free-spirited messenger of peace and harmony while nursing a decades-long heroin addiction, the antithesis of freedom.  I felt like that dichotomy between a starry-eyed expanded consciousness and a hedonistic enslavement to the pleasure principle could have very nearly ruined my own life if it hadn’t been for the actions of a few people, my lost sibling among them, which took me off that path.  Famous musicians driving themselves into early graves through hard living — Garcia was barely 53 but looked about 80 when he died – was nothing new. I couldn’t or wouldn’t empathize with the collective eulogizing because all I could think was that it seemed in some way profoundly stupid for people who “had everything in life” to careless throw it away – I’d thought the same thing about Kurt Cobain’s suicide a year earlier even though I had only a passing interest in his music — while all over the world, parents had to bury children lost to horrible circumstances – accidents, diseases, murders – inverting the “natural order”, things weren’t supposed to happen that way. Those families, and mine, didn’t have crowds holding vigils in the park. They got awkward attempts at soothing from friends or relatives, often with platitudes like “he / she is in a better place now” or “God has called home another angel” and insipid shit like that.  Continue reading

Fela Kuti & Afrika 70 with Ginger Baker – Live! (1971)

Fela Ransome-Kuti And The Africa ’70 With Ginger Baker – Live! (1971)

As the newly-revived “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has made abundantly clear, it is far to late to wish you all a happy new year.  In fact, I managed not to post anything at all in the first month of the new decade.  I had originally hoped to share this landmark Fela / Ginger Baker collaboration in late December, as a throwback to my old tradition of highlighting musicians who had passed on during the calendar year.  But it was not meant to be.  This record was originally issued on the obscure Signpost label in 1971.  Before getting a wider release by Universal in the early 00’s, it had also been reissued in the well-curated catalogues of respectable labels like Knitting Factory and Celluloid. Continue reading

Haboob – Haboob (1971) (HörZu Black Label / Reprise Records REP 3400)

Haboob – Haboob
1971 Hör Zu Black Label / Reprise Records REP 3400
Made in Germany

This is a rather difficult-to-describe rarity from a group that only made a single record, a trio of ex-pat Americans living in Germany. The driving force is James Jackson who rocks out on Farfisa, Choir Organ, and Hohner Piano. George Green, who also played in the Munich ‘drum orchestra’ band Niagara, gives a drum solo that is actually interesting (I appreciate drum solos in a live setting, when I’m there, but usually find them tedious on records. Continue reading

Help Yourself – Help Yourself (1971) (2017 Music On Vinyl)

Help Yourself – Help Yourself
Vinyl rip in 24 bit 196 khz | Art at 600 and 300 dpi |
24-bit 192 khz 1.37 GB |24-bit 96 khz – 714 MB |16-bit 44.1 khz – 271 MB
Original Release 1971 Liberty | 2017 Music On Vinyl MOVLP 2044 |   Psychedelic Rock / Folk-rock |

Dr. Vibes’ 12 Days of Christmas – Day 8 – As a teenager in the US, I discovered Help Yourself in a second-hand record shop in the late 1980s, and thought that “Strange Affair” was their first album for the next twenty years. At the time Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet, and if you could find any mention of the band in  music encylopedia / anthology-type books, it was as a footnote to the more famous Man band from Wales, which Help Yourself frontman Malcolm Morley joined for a while. But they had their own sound, and their own cult following in the UK.  This debut album is inferior to the ones that followed it, but rare as hen’s teeth as an original pressing, so I was pretty excited when I saw that reissue label Music On Vinyl had chosen to release it. Continue reading

Novos Baianos – Novos Baianos (1974) (Bomba Japanese reissue 2016)

Novos Baianos – Novos Baianos
1974 Continental SLP-10.144 (Original release)
2016 Japanese reissue, Bomba Records Continental SLP-10.144 

Last Sunday, Brazil’s first World Cup match ended in a tie, and now they’ve won their a match against Costa Rica.  I didn’t watch.  I don’t care about the World Cup.  Even if I did, I’m not sure I would be cheering for Brazil this year.  Country has lost its damn mind, and Neymar continues to be whitening. Also FIFA continues to be an ethically dodgy facilitator of slave labor littering the world with disused stadiums built as monuments to their power.  So let’s listen to a record by some people who embody the “beautiful game” as, in my uninformed naiveté, I imagine it to exist in some parallel utopia – Os Novos Baianos, lovers of futebol and purveyors of fine music, still in the midst of their heyday.

Continue reading

Prince & The Revolution – Pop Life / Hello (1985) (12″ Dance Remix by Sheila E.)

Prince & The Revolution – Pop Life b/w Hello
1985 Paisley Park  9 20357-0 A
12-inch Dance Remix by Sheila E.

Last Thursday would have been Prince Rogers Nelson’s 60th birthday. A fact which earned him his own category on the long-running American game show Jeopardy, incidentally quite popular with geezers of all ages. Perhaps we should be consoled that there will never be a starstruck clerk at the Four Seasons hotel forced to wait uncomfortably while Prince digs in his wallet for his AARP card to get that senior-citizen discount on his luxury suite. But nevertheless, we’ve all got a space to fill. Continue reading