Tony Allen is Dead.

Allen was the drummer who shaped the Afrobeat sound with Fela. The two of them combined jazz and Nigerian pop and lots of political edge to create a music that drove the central government wild. I once had tickets to see Fela in NY, but he was imprisioned in Nigeria and couldn’t travel. I did see Tony Allen once, at the Knitting Factory when it was on Leonard Street in New York’s Tribeca. A joy, and the opening band was Antibalas, a Brooklyn based Afrobeat band. They didn’t cover Fela, they didn’t impersonate him, but they surely inhabited his vibe and made it work. Antilbalas eventually became the house band when the musical about Fela and Tony Allen hit Broadway.

Tony Allen is drumming on this, maybe Fela and Afrika 70’s greatest song.

https://youtu.be/Qj5x6pbJMyU

Do You Like Boobs A Lot Meets the Pink Faeries

I’ve been listening to the Holy Modal Rounders, a band that is known for first using the word psychedelic in a song (!) and then became a big part of the Fugs for a while. So, the Rounders, East Village folkies with political and bluegrass roots, with a yen for spiritual awakening on many levels, and an antic sense of humor. A droll one, too. Also a love for songwriting and old timey music and new timey takes on old timey ways. Which doesn’t describe Boobs A Lot, a novelty song they wrote for the Fugs. The Fugs version is fun, a call and response thing. The Rounders version came out on their fifth album, Good Taste is Timeless, in 1971. As a college boy in Southern California in the mid 70s I discovered it as a staple on the Dr. Demento radio show on Sunday nights. What I remembered of the song was its delightful glee, but what I heard tonight was some pretty cool rocking, growing a solid Bo Diddley riff in a pretty clever way. A novelty song, sure, but a fun listen to for the music, too. At the end of the day, a rock song with novelty lyrics.
So, to make this a shaggy dog story, when the Rounders album finished (I was making dinner), I for some reason thought about the Pink Faeries, a band I learned about five years ago. They were British psychedelic rockers from the early 70s, they grew out of a band called the Deviants that I haven’t looked up, but they then made some records that are uniformly excellent. Not because they’re polished, but because whether they’re covering Chuck Berry tunes or offering their originals, they have an inexhaustible drive (two drummers) and weaving guitars (two lead guitars) and the chops to make propulsive memorable rock. This is rock that managed in its time to bridge the Allman Brothers and the punk scene that was soon to come. Check out my previous posts for Pink Fairies (that was my spelling then) for some choice cuts, but today let’s admire Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout, from 1971 as well, which is a heavy metal tune that morphs into an exemplary jam band tune without apology. Before heavy metal and jam bands were a thing. And back again on this live track from the John Peel show.
For me a big question is how much had Pink Fairies heard the Allman Brothers at this point. The Allmans were first. Part of this song leans heavily toward Morning Dew and Elizabeth Reed. And the double drummers compound the point. None of which is a bad thing, no matter who came first.

The Search for Nurse With Wound’s Favorite Bands

This is about a story in The Guardian. In 1979 an experimental/noise/art/industrial/krautrock band called Nurse With Wound put out their first album. The inner sleeve listed their favorite 291 bands. In the 90s that list became something of a challenge for fans of this sort of music to find, and some it was released on CD for the first time. Now, 40 years after it was originally released, Nurse with Wound is working with a record label trying to put together compilation sets with one track from each of those bands. This is their story, well worth reading if only for some of the band names. Here’s that album, which is everything haters of experimental music are likely to hate, but with some interesting sounds along the way.
The first volume of the compilation is out now.

New Releases: Peter Laughner Box Set

Laughner was a member of Rocket From the Tomb and Pere Ubu, influential, more heard of than heard bands from Cleveland. He said he wanted to be to Cleveland what Brian Wilson was to LA and Lou Reed was to New York, but instead died in 1977 at age 26 mission unfulfilled. A record company called Smog Veil has just released a five-LP box set of all known Laughner recordings, mostly self recorded in the late night by himself. The NY Times has a story about the release today. While you read it, here’s Ain’t It Fun! Laughner’s hit, which was later covered by Pere Ubu (if that’s a cover), the Dead Boys and Guns and Roses.

Cream, Strange Brew

Gene named me in the 10 most influential elpees in 10 days challenge on Facebook. My Day 1 choice was Cream’s Disraeli Gears, which was in no way obscure but did feel like my music, rather than pop music everyone liked that I liked too, like the Beatles, Stones and the Who. I thought I’d post a song from each of my albums over here, just for fun. This one was a Clapton song rewritten by producer Felix Pappalardi and his wife Gail. It’s the lead song on Disraeli Gears and seems like the epitome of the band’s psychedelic blues.

Van Morrison, Why Must I Always Explain

This one is from 1991. Van Morrison is no remnant, he’s been a giant star for a long time. But he’s also a working musician, a scrappy one who has not bent his vision to match the future, as such. He records new stuff, he tours, he has looked like a heart attack waiting to happen for 40 years, but luckily for us he’s survived and visited us with his Celtic rhythm and blues-y jazzbo stylings regularly. I’m not going to vouch for all of it. There’s too much to listen to, for one thing, but the album this is from, Hymns to the Silence, his 21st long player, seems to me brilliant all the way through, a mixture of personal animus and griping and soulful stylings and professions of faith, with a tight band and not a little bit of nostalgia for things before they’d been debased. I don’t agree with that last point entirely, but I like the music it pushed Van Morrison to on this record.