01.30.09

Hearing Jimi Hendrix

            In the universe of memorable movie quotes that you hear over and over again, it is one of the most curious to me. “ You can hear Jimi, but you can’t hear Jimi.” It is a quote from the film White Men Can’t Jump, a sentiment from Wesley Snipes to Woody Harrelson commenting on Harrelson’s whiteness retarding his ability to jump. Perhaps it is only a funny line from a movie, but a curious sentiment in my opinion. It seems to me that Hendrix actually does speak directly to white people. At least he spoke to me and many other fifteen-year-old unlikeable white kids in suburbs across America. Jimi Hendrix shirts still hang carelessly off of college students who have not yet become contrary about or given up on rock n’ roll. Furthermore, I have never heard an African-American lay claim to Jimi Hendrix. He doesn’t appear in Afro-centric movie soundtracks. There are no iconic pictures of Hendrix hanging out with the Reverend Al Sharpton, or leaving a restaurant with Marion Barry. Spike Lee will probably never make The Jimi Hendrix Story (although he would be my first choice), and there is nothing wrong with that. Hendrix was a bit of a conduit between soul and rock and roll, and whitey needed the education at the time. And he was a bit freaky looking: an attribute that, with the exception of George Clinton, always goes over better in the white community. 

            But I agree that people don’t “hear Jimi,” but for more obvious reasons. Hendrix bleeds through the walls if you turn off the radio. He has become part of the white noise of rock and roll: his songs endlessly repeating on the radio. Who wants to hear “Foxy Lady” or “Purple Haze” ever again? When the rare occasion arises to thin my record collection, my thumb will inevitable slow in the H section. I consider the plausibility of ever pulling out a Jimi Hendrix album. But I am unable to get rid of any Hendrix records from my youth. Although I can never imagine taking one out, it just doesn’t seem right to have them out of my collection.

            So tonight, I pulled them all out. I decided I was determined to “hear Jimi” once again. I got my tape deck in gear and made a mix tape of songs from the Hendrix library that are not completely worn out. I filled a 90-minute tape of performances that exemplify his inimitable connection with blues guitar playing and the strange, acid-eating portion of his style that keeps him in the imagination of suburban youth. I don’t know if I heard him, but it was fun to try. 

Side One:

Stone Free- Smash Hits 

In From the Storm- Cry of Love

Rock Me Baby- Soundtrack

Little Miss Lover- Axis: Bold as Love

House Burning Down- Electric Ladyland

Third Stone from the Sun- Are You Experienced?

Remember- Smash Hits

Hear My Train a Comin’- Soundtrack

EXP/Up from the Skies- Axis: Bold as Love

Red House- The Jimi Hendrix Concerts

Side Two:

Johnny B. Goode- Johnny B. Goode: The Berkeley Concert

Wild Thing- Jimi Plays Monterey

Freedom: Isle of Wight

Machine Gun- Midnight Lightning

Spanish Castle Magic- Axis: Bold as Love

And the Gods Made Love/Have You Ever Been to Electric Ladyland- Electric Ladyland

My Friend- Cry of Love

We Gotta Live Together- Band of Gypsies One

Blue Suede Shoes- Midnight Lightning

1983…(A Merman I Should Turn To Be)- Electric Ladyland

I might do The Rolling Stones next…

Jimi posted in: Writing | Comments (1)
01.27.09

Ming Lives

Ring

in dust.

The End.

Red Glove,

maniacal laughter.

Question mark.

CHANTS, THE: R & B: LP 1966 was a good year for warbling soul and rock and roll covers. The Charts could be looked at as just another regional band from the time period. But these recordings, which include an obligatory version of “Gloria,” are extra magical in their execution. Overdriven is the theme for this half studio/half live document of New Zealand’s version of the Yardbirds. The first side includes their studio sessions, which are tight and fuzzy and exemplify good pop writing of the era. The live side provides a document in mono complete with distorting vocals. Loaded with energy, The Charts sail through a set list that contains a good mix of soul and rock standards. Sometimes the live side of an album can come off as filler, but in this case the live side is relevant. Pete Townsend once said that he was uncertain about the connection between The Who and mod culture. There is no confusion here. This is mod R & B all the way through, and an excellent party record. At least, my kind of party.

-Billups Allen (Norton)

01.25.09

 

 

MIDDLE CLASS, THE: Out of Vogue- The Early Material

One of my favorite things about hardcore is when old codgers who have been into it for too long will get bored with life and begin extolling the virtues of some unknown band. I particularly love it when the hype begins to raise eBay prices and, before long, a mediocre retrospective record is produced. Then eBay process fall and everything goes back to normal. This is one case, however, where the community has been served properly. Out of Vogue- The Early Material is an essential document of that magical time in history where punk rock picked up speed. The song “Out of Vogue” is a classic smoker that has gotten around a bit. Loud, fast and out of control, it is the song that they are known for. But this record is not a one hit wonder. Vogue contains the band’s first two 7”s plus some demos that are actually worth listening to. From session to session, their style wobbles between early Bad Brains recordings and Adolescents sounding beach punk. The negligible variation in style and raw recording quality gives the record as a complete listen the feel of putting on Discord’s Year One. The Middle Class originate from the late ‘70s when punks were unsure if the music could handle the speed. This document of their output is angry and sloppy and there is not a weak spot on the record. Am I an old codger extolling the virtues of a virtually unknown hardcore band? Maybe. But don’t let that stop you. This is essential listening. An absolute keeper.-Billups Allen (Frontier)

01.24.09

T.S.O.L.

I saw T.S.O.L. on thier reunion tour in the late 90s and they were good then. They stood out among what I think of as the explosion of “reunion fever” that swept the 90s after the mainstream acceptance of punk rock. T.S.O.L played well and seemed to be enjoying themselves without the pretense to having something to prove that seemed problematic in some reunion bands at that time. Since then, T.S.O.L. seem to be continuing full time as a band. They have put out several albums in this decade. Most recently, they have released Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Free Downloads which, as the title suggests, is available for free download. With the music buying process in such chaos, I think it is interesting that they have chosen to hurl their new album in to the void without a direct mode of compensation. I definitely don’t have answers for the quagmire of how to be a band nowadays, but I do think that people are too concerned with their “intellectual property”  and I admire T.S.O.L. for trying new things. I am generally for anything that promotes record shops, but free downloads might be the honorable alternative. I am sure that, realistically, T.S.O.L. have little chance of getting a lot of attention from a mass release in stores. Music was meant to be heard, and T.S.O.L. are getting out there and playing and sharing their album. They are a great band worth supporting anyway. They are responsible for Dance With Me, Beneath the Shadows, and Change Today? which are all classics. There are many reference to them as predecessors of Goth. It is a reasonable statement, but I like to think they were experimenting with surf guitar sounds, pushing them into darker arenas. They also had an occasional horror soaked theme. T.S.O.L. were at the forefront of the Southern California punk rock sound at the time existing in conjunction with bands such as The Adolescents. I don’t necessarily have an attitude about Goth, but I think T.S.O.L.’s sound is more relevant to the history of punk rock and far from what I would consider to be appealing to the average goth kid. If you have not thought of them in a while, T.S.O.L. are due for a rediscovering.T.S.O.L. are a great band and are worth supporting, particularly in Tucson where punk shows are few and far between. They will be at Vaudeville on Sunday, January 25th, 2009. 

Maybe a good segue in the “how the hell do you share music?” discussion. I have heard (and of course I am ranting with my usual amount of research; i.e. none) that bars are being hassled to pay money to ASCAP for having DJs in. Don’t get me wrong, I think the whole “DJing” phenomenon is another dumbing down of the industry, but there are people who genuinely care about eclectic music that drag their records into bars week after week without compensation just so dead voices a chance to be heard among beer swilling chowderheads that would rather be listening to the horror that is Fall Out Boy. I have heard recently that a DJ Butta Fly whom I know to have an eclectic ear for soul music was recently shut down in a small bar for playing music. I understand that there is a need for artists to get paid, but i doubt very much that much money is being lost when Gloria Jones is heard on a bar. And frankly, I am against ANYTHING that turns music off or promotes mainstream music to be inserted in place of real music played by fans. If ASCAP did find a way to wrench a nickel out of someone’s pocket on the rare occasion that Gloria Jones is accidentally played in a small bar in Tucson Arizona, that nickel would probably go into the $150 jeans of a member of Fall Out Boy anyway.

But I’ll say it again, I don’t have the answers. Still, we have to find a way back to the notion that a fan could get excited about something and try to share it with the world. Nowadays, it seems that if John Cusack held a boombox over his head in front of a girl’s house, he would owe Peter Gabriel money. 

T.S.O.L’s website: http://www.truesoundsofliberty.com/ 


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