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High Masculine Tones

Sun Ra and The Blues Project Do Batman and Robin!


Some days I can't believe the stuff I get through my aggregator. Over on WFMU's Beware of the Blog Station Manager Ken Freedman has posted the entire contents of an amazing artifact:

In 1966, a toy company in Newark, New Jersey released a children's record called Batman and Robin to cash in on the popular Adam West TV series of the same name. The music on the LP was credited to "The Sensational Guitars of Dan and Dale," but in fact the band was one of the greatest uncredited session combos of all time, including the core of Sun Ra's Arkestra and Al Kooper's Blues Project. To keep the music licensing fees to a minimum, all the tracks were based on public domain items like Chopin's Polonaise Op. 53, the horn theme from Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony and the love theme from Romeo and Juliet, and generic rock riffs.

I could use that little bit of information to stretch some point on the nature of copyright and creativity, but mostly I'm just excited to get this music. A lot of people find Sun Ra's style too abstract and weird, because he's best known for albums like Heliocentric Worlds and The Magic City, which are dissonant atonal affairs. My favorite Arkestra recordings are from the late fifties, which come across as Duke Ellington's orchestra gigging live while cruising the rings of Saturn. The first song I ever played for newborn Harry was "Interplantary Music" off We Travel the Space Ways (recorded in Solar Fidelity on El Saturn Records) -- and yes, I thought that selection through.

I'm also very fond of my green vinyl copy of It Is Forbidden, a live album recorded in 1974 at a festival that had the Arkestra setting the stage for James Brown. The sound on this record is alternatively noisy and funky, the singing on the title track hypnotic and energizing at the same time. I had always wondered why the album was subtitled "at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival in Exile" whereas the liner notes said the performance had been been recorded in Windsor, Ontario. Poking around to find links for this posting tonight, I came across this explanation (worth reading in its entirety):

... the City Council finally issued judgment in July: With less than two months left before the Festival’s scheduled September 6th opening, the City of Ann Arbor denied Rainbow Multi-Media’s application for a permit to hold the internationally-recognized musical extravaganza in its place of birth, citing RMM’s failure to clean up the site immediately following the 1973 Festival as reason enough to cancel the event.

The clean-up problem was troubling. The Festival had hired scores of young people from the community to prepare the site, an empty field next to Huron High School which we had dubbed “Otis Spann Memorial Field,” to staff the festival grounds during the three-day event, and to clean up the site after the festivities had concluded. These workers effectively went on strike after the Festival ended without any of them getting paid and refused to do any more work, thus postponing the clean-up until enough volunteers could be organized to remove the debris.

Two decades later it would come to light that the man RMM had contracted to supervise the Festival’s field operations had invested the payroll money advanced to him for the crew — something like $20,000 — into a multi-ton marijuana deal that, unhappily for all, failed to come off. The supervisor vanished, and the crew began a protracted muttering campaign against Rainbow Multi-Media that resulted eventually in the cancellation of the next year’s event.

“It is forbidden,” the City of Ann Arbor ruled in July, and pandemonium reigned for several days until the festival organizers were invited to bring the banned event across the Detroit River and into the lovely outdoor amphitheater at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario … Canada. Radio powerhouse CKLW-AM agreed to serve as sponsor of the event, pledging lots of free ad spots, and the Canadians waxed enthusiastic in their professions of support for the orphaned music festival.

If you want a short overview of perhaps the single most original jazz (or music) mind ever, I mostly endorse Scott McFarland's version.

Anyhow, this Batman album finds Sun Ra playing his most accessible music since the early R&B; stuff recorded as "The Cosmic Rays". Al Kooper was no slouch, appearing on Dylan's Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde among countless other truly classic records. And his Blues Project were making some eccentric and fine music of their own around this time. If you've made it to the bottom of this post, you really ought to give the tracks a listen.

2.04.2006 [link]


Manly relaxation

On most of the 365 days he has enjoyed at his secluded ranch here, President Bush's idea of paradise is to hop in his white Ford pickup truck in jeans and work boots, drive to a stand of cedars, and whack the trees to the ground.

If the soil is moist enough, he will light a match and burn the wood. If it is parched, as it is across Texas now, the wood will sit in piles scattered over the 1,600-acre spread until it is safe for a ranch hand to torch -- or until the president can come home and do the honors himself.

Nothing more relaxing than chopping and burning cedars. But hey, legalizing and normalizing torture and universal government surveillance is hard work (MP3 3.5MB). And maybe it means he gets some of that "let's bomb somebody" mojo out of his system.

12.31.2005 [link]


Special guest post - Rheostatics do the Tarlek

Herb Tarlek is still ready to sell, but only to the Rheostatics.

"Frank Bonner appears as his character, Herb Tarlek, from the sit-com WKRP in Cincinatti that ran from 1978 to 1982. Mr. Bonner apparently gets similar requests all the time and, for the most part, refuses but when he played the Rheos' track for friends, their enthusiastic response encouraged him to join in the fun. Tarlek, the station's sleazy salesman, was renowned for impossibly ugly suits, matching white leather belt and shoes, and his relentless efforts to bed Loni Anderson's character Jennifer."
It's possible that I'm just feeling nostalgic for my adolescent late nights watching WKRP but the video for "The Tarleks" made me want to check out Bonner's filmography. Maybe there's a brilliant, indie comedy career I don' t know about? But apparently not. I can emphathize with not wanting to be pigeon-holed by one character (though when it's clearly your best, why hide him away?) But good on him, in recognizing the Rheo's were worth donning the white belt and shoes for one more time.

Part of my connection to the Rheo's is geographical. If you did some origami-like map folding with Yonge and Bloor in Toronto as axes, Etobicoke and Scarborough would end up super-imposed over each other. The first time I went partying over there I stepped out from the Kipling subway station and had the dizzying sensation that I hadn't travelled at all. In this alternate universe me and the Rheo's could have all hung out watching WKRP together, and now it seems like we were.

More songs from 2067 the Rheo's latest, via CBC's New Music Canada

Thanks to Keira McPhee, who escorted me to the fab Rheos show last Friday in Van Rock City for the post -- now if only I could get her to write all my posts, I'd have a blog...

11.21.2005 [link]


Better to burn out?

Better to burn out?

Guess who's 60
? Neil was probably the first rock star I got into (the album that hooked me at age 11 was "Everybody's Rocking", of all things), has never been far from the top of my hit parade, and to this day his music is a staple in our house.

It's all-Neil, all-vinyl, all day...

11.12.2005 [link]


Hey let's party™!!! We'll have fun®!!! (Use of the word "fun" is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of GloboCorp Intl.)

I just received the following email invitation for a conference I am attending next month. The text (and symbols too -- hope they render in your browser/reader) reads:

Don't miss Heat Up the Street, a sizzlin' EDUCAUSE street party at the UNIVERSAL CITYWALK Entertainment Complex®. You'll have your pick of the walk's venues, with food, music, dancing, and a cash bar.

* Celebrate an early Mardi Gras at Pat O'Brien's®
* Get in the groove with live music—reggae at Bob Marley - A Tribute to Freedom™ and jazz and blues at CityJazz®
* Spice it up a little at the Latin Quarter™
* Shake it loose at the grooveSM dance club.

It'll be an unforgettable night filled with people to meet and music for movin' and shakin' your feet!

A few thoughts:

* Isn't "celebrating" Mardi Gras, in Orlando of all places, in colossal bad taste right now? And exactly what kind of Mardi Gras can we expect? Something tells me that this isn't an attempt to make work for displaced cajun chefs and zydeco musicians. I also note that "Pat O'Brien's®" signature drink is a "hurricane", and that Their site is utterly oblivious to any irony about it -- the site also asserts that "Have Fun!® [is one of many] registered trademarks of Pat O'Brien's Bar, Inc.©" As an aside, corporate sponsorship of New Orleans Mardi Gras events and floats was (and I hope is) forbidden by tradition and city statute.

* It's unclear if They have trademarked "Freedom™" itself -- or have They trademarked "Bob Marley - A Tribute to Freedom™"? And I wonder how old Bob, not exactly a corporate shill, would have felt about that?

* Do Parisian residents of Le Quartier Latin know that they are living in gross violation of international copyright law? And why won't the UN or Interpol do its duty and enforce the will of the international community? There must be some weenie like Hans Blix in charge of policing.

* I had to look up what that "SM" attached to "groove" meant -- according to this FAQ "SM represents an unregistered service mark. It is also an informal notification that there is a public claim as a service mark." So that's one more dumb hippie-ism I'll have to drop from my vocabulary.

There wasn't much chance of me attending these events anyway. I'm allergic to corporate parties, or at least to ones with a cash bar. Given my proclivity for ranting like this, the partygoers™ will have more fun® without me anyway.

9.22.2005 [link]


Addressing global warming will wreck our economy...

...and the damage done by more frequent and more powerful hurricanes pales in comparison to the wreckage inflicted by people biking to work.

From RealClimate: Hurricanes and Global Warming - Is There a Connection?:

Better protection against hurricanes will be an obvious discussion point over the coming months, to which as climatologists we are not particularly qualified to contribute. But climate science can help us understand how human actions influence climate. The current evidence strongly suggests that:

(a) hurricanes tend to become more destructive as ocean temperatures rise, and

(b) an unchecked rise in greenhouse gas concentrations will very likely increase ocean temperatures further, ultimately overwhelming any natural oscillations.

Scenarios for future global warming show tropical SST rising by a few degrees, not just tenths of a degree (see e.g. results from the Hadley Centre model and the implications for hurricanes shown in Fig. 1 above). That is the important message from science. What we need to discuss is not what caused Katrina, but the likelyhood that global warming will make hurricanes even worse in future.

Far from the hurricane zones, closer to home, what about the relationship of unchecked global warming to the pine beetle infestation -- with a current price tag estimated at more than $100 Billion?



Simply defies description...

See for yourself.

8.18.2005 [link]


Only in British Columbia (oh, if only...)

From my morning paper, headlined Bankers make smooth transition to politics:

Mr. Perry said being an economist and a banker naturally led to his new career as the deputy leader of the Green Party and the West Vancouver-Garibaldi candidate in the May 17 election.

..."When you're looking at computers and screens, you can't really feel the Earth and, for me, there was a big void. And that's why it was easy and natural to be committed to putting a lot of blood and sweat in working for the Earth."

Mr. Perry, who drives an SUV but vows his next car will be a Smart Car or another fuel-efficient vehicle, said he cares about balanced budgets and low debt.

4.26.2005 [link]


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Scribbler has no revenue streams, no disillusioned stockholders, low low overhead expenses, and is 100% free of animal by-products. It bears no grudge against you and wouldn't harm a flea if it did. It has been constructed using Blogger, BBEdit, an iMac, and CSS templates from BlueRobot. It is cunningly held together with duct tape.