Escort @ LEAF Downtown, Asheville 8-4-17

Escort L-R: Mark Tewarson [g/perc], Ben Herson [d], Adeline Michéle [vox/b] + Eugene Cho [synth/perc]

Based on my experience in 2014, there was no band I wanted more to see than Escort. A few weeks ago I noticed that the LEAF Downtown Festival, held for the last three Summers, was bringing the band back for a free show. It was finally happening and I didn’t have to drop a dime on the event. The show at Moogfest 2014 had been so incendiary, I found it hard to believe that it had taken the band three years to find their way back to Asheville, considering how strong a circuit they built with the audience there that night. It was a packed [360 cap.] Asheville Music Hall gig where for the only time ever in my festival going experience, where no one left the club while the show was happening. The smoking hot event had me pining for more, and apparently, they had a gig in Asheville last year that I had completely missed.

The local freekly had an interview with Escort in their last week’s issue and in it I was shocked to see that the band opened for CeeLo Green at the Orange Peel last year! Now, I carefully scan the Orange Peel calendar. I remember seeing the CeeLo Green show and maybe at the time the support had not been announced. I am hoping that was the case at any rate! I never gloss over the support acts. In fact, I usually pay undue attention to them, since I have bought tickets for opening acts more than once! So Escort had already followed up on their triumphant appearance in 2014. It’s just that I was not aware. Ouch. Well, hopefully this show would make up for it.

I left work at five last Friday, having already changed to my civvies for the LEAF Downtown; a two day free festival held in the city’s Pack Square Park. Thousands of people jammed the place shoulder to shoulder for the first years’ show with Bootsy Collins. I wanted to get there as far ahead of the 6:45-7:55 show slot as possible, but I work 25 miles from Downtown. A lane closure had compromised the interstate, so I had to take the “back way” to Asheville. I basically drove to my home and then went to downtown Asheville. I snagged a parking space about a half mile away from the festivities, and hoofed it there.

I arrived about 6:10 and was carrying a rain jacket, since showers and thunderstorms were predicted by NOAA. Good thing too, since as I watched Escort and the crew set up for their show, the weather was getting more and more foreboding. The tech crew called the three minute warning and then the slight drizzle turned into a downpour. With rain at this level, the outdoor bandshell would be compromised. I didn’t want to ever see anyone electrocuted; especially a member of a band I love this much! So the tarps went up at 6:45 and we waited.

Just minutes before the showtime the pounding rain brought out the road crew and tarps

Escort were also different. The band were slimmed down to a svelte four piece hyperminimal configuration. I get it. This was a mid-summer festival gig one-off and Escort were a seven piece when I saw them for the Moogfest show. That was down from their 17-piece crowning glory, that I’m guessing only gets trotted out for local gigs when the stars are in alignment. I’m sure LEAF had to stretch their dollars and somewhere along the line, four members were what the budget allowed. So this time out, co-founder Dan Balis was MIA. Second guitarist Mark Tewarson was here tonight, and crucially, he doubled on bongo percussion. Every member except the Ben Herson on drums was pulling double duty to get the songs across. Vocalist Adeline Michéle was already established as one of the few vocalists/bassist outside of the prog arena [that sounds kind of redundant] and this left Mr. Cho on synths and yet more timbale and cowbell percussion.

They were leaning heavily on Ableton Live [or a reasonable equivalent] for this show. The sequenced synths and backing vocals would be from computer this time. They were probably doubling the synths from a DAW the last time, too. The two things I found myself missing, were the presence of a conga playing percussionist. That had really made their sound pop the last time, and more importantly, the duo of backing vocalists. The demure figures and shapes they threw the last time really made the vibe approach the cherished Ze/Kid Creole ideal. They also served to contrast with and amlify the tough elegance of Ms. Michéle. Tonight would be more focused on dancing. Primarily since there was room for it! I had gotten the new album last week and was primed to hear the latest from Escort.

They took to the stage with “A Bright New Life” from their debut but they gave the bulk of their set to the newer material. While their debut album was a careful revitalization of classic disco sound, the new one also featured a half-step back to the house music that founders Balis and Cho were making before hooking up at Vassar to form Escort. “Body Talk” showed the full flower of this approach with a dazzling, diamond-cut precision that disco alone, back in its heyday, could only hope to achieve.

“If You Say So” offered yet another hybrid with insouciant early 80s pop/R+B cross-pollinated with what I can only call yacht rock. It’s the furthest point from their orthodox disco origins that the band have strayed, and it succeeds better than it had any right to, but I would not look forward to a day to a whole of an Escort album crafted of such stuff. Speaking of orthodox disco, it can’t be bettered by any song other that their calling card, “Starlight” from their debut. It embodies the apex of 1978-1979 disco tropes more than anything else that I could name. The synth-squiggle hook from Mr. Cho can’t be bettered.

Sister Disco has a Brother Funk, and a song I was positively waiting for this time was the pre-release single “Barbarians;” a highlight of the last show I had seen, back when it was the new song. The chanted hooks were powerful with this one and I was waiting to add to the chorus when they played it. Mr. Herson’s mighty beats on this one were the stuff of legend.

One of the delights of the new album I was looking forward to the most was their brilliant synthpop cover of St. Vincent’s Actor Out of Work.” I had never heard the original song but this one quickly wormed its way into my brain with its synth hooks, and more importantly, it’s somewhat abstract lyrics that really pull me in, Post-Punk style! That way of putting out lyrics that evade and intrigue was really a hallmark of the Post-Punk style, and most of my favorite lyrics are made of such arch juxtapositions. Maybe I need to check out St. Vincent? At any rate, this was probably the new song I was most looking forward to hearing and they did not disappoint.

After the span of eight or so songs, Ms. Michéle announced their last number and sure enough; it was 7:50. In spite of the rain delay, they were ending on schedule, so their set list was shorn of at least half a dozen numbers that we did not hear this damp evening. Damp from the rain, to be sure, but also damp from the perspiration of dancing for close to an hour in a city square.  By this time I was not the only one dancing and the square had returned to having some sort of audience; perhaps close to the numbers that were there before the rain. For their last number, I was pleasantly shocked that they trotted out their killer Dillinger cover of “Cocaine Blues,” since this was definitely a “family friendly” event with face painting, and children. Too bad for the kids. I was all too happy to sing along with the hook that Dillinger had cribbed from The People’s Choice 1975 jam “Do It Any Way You Wanna.” Special thanks to Fred for helping my ailing memory here.

With that, the band ended on a dime at 7:55. The Friday night headliner at LEAF Downtown would get their full set… but at what cost? At the end of the night this had been a highly compromised Escort experience. They lost a good 40% of their playing time and set. They were a minimal configuration of four people, who leaned on automation to flesh out their sound. The rain drove away all but the hardiest individuals before it even started. I really wish I had known about the CeeLo Green show in 2016. I gather that the band were at least the seven-strong configuration I saw earlier, and to be honest, this band belong inside of a room, where their dazzling energy can barely be contained. While, I assuredly enjoyed the room to bust a move the entire show [unlike last time], the sheer excitement was pounded out of me by the solid half hour of pouring rain. This was not the food for the soul that their Moogfest show was. This was more of a snack. A tasty one, for certain, but I still await the Orange Peel headlining gig that this band were made to deliver. Escort have made three trips to my city. The groundwork has hopefully been laid for most triumphant return of Escort in their fullest possible form in a club, where god intended disco to live.

– 30 –

Posted in Concert Review | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Cindy Wilson Offers “Change” We Can Get Behind

Riverside Cindy beaming – is that not the best photo you’ve ever seen of her?

I really liked the music that Cindy Wilson was making with her new band when in town last June, but there was no album ready just yet at the merch table. Well, that’s changing now with Cindy doing the crowdsource move that all the hip kids are making on the post-label-era  dancefloor. Her album “Change” is currently being distributed by a PledgeMusic campaign and is available in the normal CD or vinyl formats.

Kill Rock Stars | US | CS | 2017

Cindy Wilson: Change US CD [2017]

Beyone the title and cover shot, not much is known about this other than Kill Rock Stars is releasing it and I heard the songs performed live in June and they were delightfully apart from the known B-52’s sound. Titles don’t seem to be on the web as of yet, and Cindy’s Soundcloud channel are not yet featuring any tasters. but if you have a yen to hear this material, the usual DL/LP/CD can be had from Cindy’s PledgeMusic campaign. Of course, with musicians scrambling for funding in the post-music sales area, it’s often what you can pay for apart from music that really takes the cake. And Ms. Wilson is definitely no slouch in that regard! Scope some of the amazing experiences that enough funds can net you in the post-major-label era we inhabit.

  • DL – $10
  • LP [pink wax, signed] – $35
  • CD [signed] – $25

The basic meat an potatoes of any Pledge campaign, really. There are also T-shirts, handwritten lyric sheets, and bundles of multiple items. It’s when you color outside of the outlines that things get interesting.

  • Microphone from recording session – $500 [and it’s gone, daddy, gone!]
  • Cindy-led Tour Of Athens, GA – $1000 [4 left]
  • Cindy-cooked Dinner With The Band – $2000 [4 left]
  • Private House Show [1 hour] – $5000 [5 left]

The notion of Cindy Wilson spending an afternoon showing you Athens, GA from a legend’s inside perspective should be something that any music fan would cherish! Of course, I only live a few hours from Athens, so I’ve been there several times. It’s the kind of funky, soulful Southern place that’s well worth the visit, and not just for the fine, fine record stores. Even more intriguing was the notion of Cindy cooking you and her band a home-cooked meal. That’s so left field, yet charming, if I had more money than sense I’d certainly be up for that.  And of course, the private house show option is about as cool as it get… for a cool $5K. Travel costs and accommodations not included, but hey, if you live along the tour itinerary, they’ll work with you on that! And what are those Fall tour dates, now that the major push is underway?

Cindy Wilson | Change North American Fall Tour | 2017

Sept 03 | The Woodware Theatre | Cincinnati, OH
Sept 04 | The Woodware Theatre | Cincinnati, OH
Sep 05 | Hard Rock Cafe | Pittsburgh, PA
Sep 06 | Lee’s Palace | Toronto, Canada
Sep 08 | Funk ‘n Waffles | Syracuse, NY
Sep 10 | The Bell House | New York, NY
Sep 11 | Knitting Factory | New York, NY
Nov 12 | Gasa Gasa | New Orleans, LA
Nov 13 | 3TEN Austin City Limits Live | Austin, TX
Nov 15 | Metro Music Hall | Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 16 | Marquis Theater | Denver, CO
Nov 17 | The Riot Room | Kansas City, MO
Nov 19 | Zanzabar | Louisville, KY

If any of this resonates with you, why not push the big banner above and have a look at her campaign?

– 30 –

Posted in Want List | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

REVO Remastering: Visage – Fade To Grey The Singles Collection – Special Limited Edition Dance Mix Album [part 2]

[…continued from previous post]

Since there were distinct stereo panning effects in the records, it was an easy matter to determine that, yes – on side two of the “Fade To Grey” Dance Mix album, the entire side reflected having its channels reversed during production. I double checked among the two distinct CDs I also had of this title, and every one except the red banded cover was the correct stereo spread. So I worked from the corrected audio file of the second side.

From that point onward, I only had to set markers and cut/paste individual tracks into new documents and save them to have each song ready to write to CD-R. Then the next point was to design the cover art. With a straight “reissue” of a discrete title with nothing added, it is as straightforward as this sort of thing ever gets. All I had to do was to replicate the packaging and information. Which is not to say that it wasn’t work. The cover art was a little beat up [not unlike the record] with a VG, at best, cover. So I scanned the cover art and realized that the small text [much of it 6-8 points in size] was pretty badly banged up. This would require heavy reconstruction.

A highly accurate re-creation of the back cover… good thing I had the right fonts! Click for way bigger.

So I simply re-created the cover in Adobe Illustrator. Simple enough to do, but tedious, as the very persnickety typesetting [all set flush to the type’s cap line] was not easy to achieve even on a computer 34 years later. Thank goodness for paragraph styles! In cases like this, re-making the layout rather than working with scans is so worth the extra time spent. There was no need of a booklet since the original album had only a plain inner sleeve. Everything was on the front/back cover. I added liner notes on the inner gatefold to the cover insert and wow, we were done pretty quickly. I sat on this one for several months as I had other irons in the remastering fire that took precedence.

And now it’s done… yet while reviewing it for this posting this week, I found myself hemming and hawing over the sonics. It’s not that ClickRepair damaged the audio. Far from it! It removed the plethora of pops like the pro that it is. And the edited in intro to “In The Year 2525” sounds flawless. No, what nags a me now is the simple quality of the vinyl used. Are you familiar with well-played albums that have sustained stylus damage> This one sounds like it happened. The record plays without skipping, but has patches where it goes all dull and fuzzy. On “We Move” the song’s last third sounds like someone did some diabolical things with the EQ of it. No, this should not be what it ultimately is. There’s a clean, but difficult way forward that will deliver a remaster of this title that sounds entire realms better.

What I have to do is re-produce the album mix using my highest quality sources.

In effect, I will be doing what Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree does when he remixes an album like “In The Court Of The Crimson King.” He goes back to the individual master tracks and re-mixes and balances the result to take the new masters to their utmost in generational quality. All while doing his level best to replicate the mix, EQ and balance of the original mix. Tedious? You bet! But I’m not the Post-Punk Monk for nothing! To date I’ve re-produced two 7″ mixes from CD sources using my two-track environment. JAPAN’s “The Art of Parties” 7″ mix and the UK 7″ mix of “Autobahn.” In both cases, I had trashed copies of the 7″ records to emulate, and the end result was several hours invested to match the edits that were made to the master tape originally to result in these 7″ mixes. Of course, the end result sounded fantastic.

This will be similar. I have the following tracks on CD:

  • Fade To Grey [Dance Mix]
  • Mind Of A Toy [Dance Mix]
  • Visage [Dance Mix]
  • We Move [Remix]
  • In The Year 2525 [Remix]
  • Pleasure Boys [7″ Ver.]

These are simply mixed/cross faded into the adjacent tracks. At most a few panned beat loops will need to be performed to replicate the LP flow. Then there are tracks I need to take from my clean vinyl copies.

  • Tar [7″ Ver.]
  • Damned Don’t Cry [Dance Mix]

There is the “Tar” original UK 7″ version on the “Wild Life” compilation, but that single track was brickwalled, so I will rather use my copy to work from. Things will get more complicated on these three tracks.

  • Der Amboss [4:34 edit]
  • The Anvil [5:04 Remix/Edit]
  • Night Train [6:24 Dance Mix]

I have “Der Amboss” on CD, but the mix on this album is a vastly different edit. After listening forensically last night and labeling every few bars distinctively in my two track editor, I suspect that I will also have to use the instrumental version of “Der Amboss,” which I have on CD on this album [see R] to re-create what this album had at the end of side one. Similarly, the edit of “The Anvil [Dance Mix]” as appears here will be re-edited from the 6:14 12″ mix, which I lack on CD. It’s been so long since I have played the 12″ of “Night Train” from vinyl, that I’m suspecting that this mix was edited from both the 6:07 Dance Mix and the 5:02 Dub Mix, which I have on 12″ single.

Join us again in another month [I hope] to see if I’ve cracked this case or have descended into madness. I will try to replicate “Der Amboss” first and if that doesn’t happen, I guess I have to table this notion… or buy another, better copy of the album.

…To Be Continued…

 

Posted in Core Collection, Remastering | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

REVO Remastering: Visage – Fade To Grey The Singles Collection – Special Limited Edition Dance Mix Album [part 1]

REVO | US | CD-R | 2017 | REVO 085

Visage: Fade To Grey – The Singles Collection | Special Limited Edition Dance Mix Album

  1. Fade To Grey [Dance Mix]
  2. Mind Of A Toy [Dance Mix]
  3. Visage [Dance Mix]
  4. We Move [Remix]
  5. Tar [7″ Ver.]
  6. Der Amboss [4:34 edit]
  7. In The Year 2525 [Remix]
  8. The Anvil [5:04 Remix/Edit]
  9. Night Train [6:24 Dance Mix]
  10. Pleasure Boys [7″ Ver.]
  11. Damned Don’t Cry [Dance Mix]

The arrival on the scene of the mojo 7xCD Visage BSOG compilation last year simultaneously spurred me on to digitizing the 1984 ltd. ed. dance mix version of their first compilation, “Fade To Grey: The Singles Collection” as well as kept me from doing it for at least a half a year. As much as I am willing to fall down the rabbit hole of monomaniacal fandom [see looooong threads on Simple Minds and David Bowie] and compulsively blather on about bands I really love, I was also aware that I did not want PPM turning into a de facto Visage blog. As much as I could probably do it.

It was earlier this year that I digitized this and prepared it as one of my homegrown CD reissue projects. The remastering process revealed just what this album that had been on my racks since around 2004 really had to offer. Let’s outline exactly what’s on offer.

  • Fade To Grey [Dance Mix] – This was the US John Luongo dance mix as on the “Visage” US EP.
  • Mind Of A Toy [Dance Mix] – The dance mix of “Mind Of A Toy” was the same as on the UK 12″ single. There was a looped percussive segue at the beginning that John Luongo added.
  • Visage [Dance Mix] – A slight edit of the UK 12″ remix with another looped percussive seque as the intro.
  • We Move [Remix] – The short remix from the earlier version of FTG: The Singles Collection. Hard cut into the drumbeat outro of the previous track.
  • Tar [7″ Ver.] – The original UK 7″ from 1979 with with another looped percussive seque as the intro.
  • Der Amboss [4:34 edit] – A unique edit of “Der Amboss” which is usually a minute longer.
  • In The Year 2525 [Remix] – Version on other copies of this album, cross faded into next track.
  • The Anvil [5:04 Remix/Edit] – Unique edit of 6:14 dance mix of “The Anvil” from “Pleasure Boys” UK 12″ single.
  • Night Train [6:24 Dance Mix] – Appears to be UK 12″ mix re-edited to be 0:20 longer than the one of 12″ single.  Possibly longer intro. Fades out.
  • Pleasure Boys [7″ Ver.] – Common 7″ version of “Pleasure Boys” which fades up on brief silence from previous track. Cross faded into final track.
  • Damned Don’t Cry [Dance Mix] – UK 12″ dance mix from single.

The vinyl I had sourced back in the early noughties was from an eBay seller in England. I had only just learned of the existence of this album at that time, perhaps in the pages of Extreme Voice, the Ultravox fanzine. I had become aware of Extreme Voice when Billy Currie had told me about them when I had ordered his “Stand Up And Walk” cassette when it came out. I had asked Billy a few questions and he said that EV had all the answers. Copies of this album were thin on the ground then. The new mix was primarily on the cassette version of “FTG: TSC” but they also pressed up some LP copies. Due to the longish 52-53 minute running time, it’s a little groove crammed.

Worse, my copy was about a solid VG, with plenty of noise and pops throughout. For years I was afraid to play it, since it looked like what it probably sounded like. As I recall, it cost me around $30+ back then when copies were months apart from each other on eBay; the only game in town, apart from GEMM. When I played it, I got about exactly what I was expecting. Had I been able to buy a VG+ copy of this, it might have cost me $60 in the market of the time.

The constant pop and crackle throughout was substantial. To manually remove the noise using my beloved interpolate filter in Sound Studio would have taken days per track. And there’s no guarantee that using the filter even discretely, hundreds of times per second would not turn the music to much. There are limits to these things! My salvation was definitely going to be the ClickRepair software I bought a few years ago. It’s expert at removing pops without affecting the music afterward. Sure enough, I ran the capture of each side through the filter and the noise was removed. What was left was all that the vinyl was capable of providing at this late date.

The intro to “In The Year 2525” was such a welter of noise that even ClickRepair came up short on it. But there were hundreds of ways to skin a cat. I thought that I could splice in the intro from a clean vinyl copy of the song to better match EW and the like. After all, I had the US edition of the standard edition of this album since day one. I digitized the intro then noticed something very peculiar as I began editing the intro splice into the recording from the Dance Mix album. It had its channels reversed! The intro to “2525” had a very distinct, almost binaural, stereo spread with no crosstalk. It was very easy to determine if the channels had been reversed or not. Fortunately, we have computers for just this sort of thing, so I reversed the channels of the track, but not before determining if the whole side of the LP was in fact, reversed.

Next: …Reversing the Polarity of the Neutron Flow

Posted in Core Collection, Remastering | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Record Shopping Road Trip: Durham, NC

A record store… next to an investment broker??!! This is all wrong!!!

Schoolkids Records – Durham

I’d only previously shopped in Durham, NC once before, when we stopped in Bull City Records a few years ago and I found a Hot Chocolate album we wanted to hear. My wife was attending a processional conference in the Research Triangle last weekend, and I was on my own for several hours. I enjoyed the pool at the hotel where we were staying to the utmost of my ability, then checked out and took off for the Durham location of the famous regional Schoolkids chain.

There used to be as many as seven of the shops in carious college towns in the Southeast back before The Great Record Store Culling of the Napster Era. I had visited the Gainesville, Florida store [note: Wikipedia says it’s not connected with the management team that owned these stores] in the early 90s on my first trip to that city to see Man…Or Astroman. I had also visited the Chapel Hill location in the mid-noughties onward when visiting friends who had moved to the area. There were a few things bought there, certainly. Currently, there are only three of them with one in Raleigh as well.

I made my way to the location easily enough. The heart of the former tobacco trade at the heart of the state was now gentrified and repurposed into a shopping complex called Brightleaf Square. A huge, old red brick compound refitted as a series of tony boutiques. I quickly found Schoolkids after miraculously securing a parking space. On the trip over, I felt that surely the store would be stocking the recent DLX RM, four disc set of “Purple Rain,” and at the least, this would be accompanying me home. As I entered the store, the clerk, performing what seemed like populating their presumed Discogs store with stock didn’t so much as grunt in my direction. Typical. Non-plussed, I saw the new rack of CDs right upon entering the store. Not too many of them, really. I glimpsed the familiar cover of “Purple Rain” but it did not have the metallic foil cover I was looking for. It was merely the 2xCD extended version. Disappointing.

You really don’t see this every day…

I next turned my attention to a bin of new arrival used vinyl. I quickly saw something that I had heard about for 30+ years but had never actually seen; “The Great Lost Stranglers Album.” It was a Japanese only compilation of Stranglers non-LP B-sides in a cover that reminded me of the cover of the Lips Inc. album. No obi, and the stickers on the PVC bag rightly noted “Super Rare!!!” It could be mine for $19.99. Not tempting at that price and without the obi. Besides, I had all of the material on CD. The track listing was similar to the EMI “Rarities” B-side collection of the early 90s that had long since been in the Record Cell. Still, this was not a record I had encountered in the wild before. The false positive effect it engendered was my undoing. It motivated me to spend over an hour looking through the stock in this store when there was actually no reason to do so.

There was a bin of new LPs that, as usual, I ignored. Instead, I pawed through the used vinyl, where anything that would catch my eye would be hidden. It became very apparent that this was some really tired record stock that had been around the block several times on its march through history from the mid-70s through to today. Take another look at that Strangler’s pic above. Do you see the Argent artist tab? Who, under the age of 50 today, even recognizes the name of Rod Argent??! Or more importantly, cares?

I had looked at the used vinyl and had seen nothing. I next look at the trashed vinyl [<$2.00] and that was even worse. The usual records that proliferate in thrift stores abounded, and in similar condition. It turns out that the people who took the worst care of records ever, were basically my grandparents!

The stock was mostly used CDs here – normally okay but only if they have something I might want

Having rifled through the vinyl to no avail,I next turned my attention to the used CDs. I have to say that one of my beefs with record stores today are the vast amounts of floorspace given to new modern vinyl at the expense of used vinyl and CDs. This store stood that common paradigm on its edge. There was a modest amount of new vinyl here, and some new CDs as well, but the vast majority of floor space here was being used for used vinyl and used CDs. It would have been the best of all possible worlds, had they only had something that I would have bought! But that was not the case. I searched through the CD bins only to find a single CD that was of interest. In fact, it was even on the almighty want list.

This has to be priced right to purchse

I managed to have bought all of the fine EMI compilations of Cabaret Voltaire collections that were released from 1998-2002… except one. “Remixed” has escaped my grasp and yet, here is was. At the front of a bin, no less, so I immediately noticed it when walking nearby. I took the photo at right and when I turned it over, I saw a $16.99 used price on that bad boy! No way. I was mainly buying this for the incredible “Don’t Argue [Live Jacknife Drum Remix]” finally on CD! It’s an Adrian Sherwood mix I have on the 12″ single but this was the only shiny CD with the Blue Velvety styled mix with acoustic drums by Chakk’s Diarmuid Boyle. I love this mix, but not enough to pay twice the going rate for a copy on CD! I continued on my deathmarch to give the tired stock in this place a glance. Only because I should not show up to meet my wife too long before her seminar was over.

This was one of the most perfunctory record store visits I’d ever had. What was worse, the store was also dimly lit; another of my Record Store Bête Noirs! More than anything, I was curious about how this place came to be. I thought that the End Times [Napster era] had killed off any lame record stores but this one proved my theory was wrong. The freaky thing was that this store in all other ways but stock and pricing, hit all of my buttons. It was mostly CDs and used vinyl. Normally, cause for celebration. I should hasten to mention that it was occupying space in the upscale Brightleaf Square shopping district. It could not have come cheaply, yet the evidence here suggested that there were not too many sales. One other older guy stopped in while I was there and he didn’t waste as much time as I did. He also left empty handed. This store in the Schoolkids chain suggested a take on the 60s aphorism: what if they gave a record store and nobody shopped?

– 30 –

Posted in Record Shopping Road Trip | Tagged | 5 Comments

One King To Rule Them All: King Crimson’s Radical Action Tour US Fall 2017 Dates

L-R: Robert Fripp,Gavin Harrison, Bill Rieflin, Tony Levin, Jeremy Stacey, Gavin Harrison, Pat Mastelotto, Jakko Jakszyk, Mel Collins

Your friendly, neighborhood Monk is right now still on a three figure ticket high. Something that very rarely occurs in my universe. But it’s not every day that a mind-melting eight-man King Crimson lineup comes within striking distance of yours truly. I have seen KC three times before; all very different experiences and they seemingly gave up the ghost around 2006-7. Robert Fripp’s announced retirement from music occurred in 2012 and I figured that was that. Except that a year later his strife with UMG was finally tabled and he put forth a vision of a new KC lineup with three drummers up front and four musicians on the backline.

The tours began three years ago in cities around the world far from the Monk’s Record Cell. In January, dates were announced for America with nothing coming close. Fall dates were promised, and I made certain even before that to sign up for the DGM mailing list, so that the second dates were announced I could pounce. A fat lot of good that did me! I saw the US Fall 2017 dates announced on the web about a fortnight ago, and yesssss, they were playing in nearby Raleigh, at the superb venue that the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra normally uses. I’ve seen the Magnetic Fields there, and it’s a primo venue. There were two dates in equally nearby Atlanta at Centerstage, an intimate venue I first saw The Cocteau Twins at in 1990. A great room, but I was aiming for Raleigh. My friend Tom in nearby Chapel Hill might want to attend with me; we’ll see.

This morning I wondered what was up. The last time I looked, there was no ticket info of any kind given, save for the ultra-posh VIP package for $365 directly from King Crimson, only. Yes, just a dollar-a-day nets you:

  • Access to the venue one hour before doors
  • Central Seating Rows 1-6
  • Insights into the world of King Crimson and DGM by David Singleton, producer and manager (“the ninth man”)
  • Q&A with one of the eight band members
  • Programme/Photograph signed by all the members
  • Exclusive VIP Laminate
  • Exclusive Royal Package Tote Bag

Nice. I particularly found the Q+A an intriguing and creative way to “separate me from my hard-earned cash®” but that was too rich for my blood. So I went to the DGM site and clicked a few buttons. Gott Im Himmell! The Raleigh dates were already on sale! They had $57-$202 price spread apart from the DGM VIP seating. I emailed Tom and pressed him to see if he wanted to go. Then, 10 minutes later [remembering that Tom rarely responds to emails] I had a moment of clarity and thought “I’d better buy first and ask questions later!”

I looked at the seating arrangement:

Hmm. There were only 45 seats left in the center $57 section. This is King Crimson, in an eight-man lineup performing music they have not touched in 40+ years on these shows! True! All of the dates I saw in the 90s/00s pulled nothing earlier than the title cut from “Lark’s Tongues In Aspic.” This time, Mel Collins, who hailed from the 1970 KC lineup on sax, was back playing with Fripp for the first time in 45 years and set lists revealed they were playing music from not only “In The Court Of The Crimson King” that I never heard a note of, but crucially, songs [including my favorite] from “Lizard,” the divisive third KC album that went the furthest into jazz territory and is a personal favorite of mine from their “early period.”

With that thought, the B section called out to me. The third row in section B could be mine for $127.15 + fees. I bought two tickets. Just a minute and a half later, for a $315.76 total, I [and possibly my friend] were going to see a brain-melting King Crimson incarnation in just three months. If my friend is not interested, I am certain I’ll have no problem flipping that ticket.

So right now my mind is still racing! This is the tour I have most wanted to see for the last three years and I am fully charged up with excess voltage. They are adding one cover to their set lists these days. David Bowie’s “Heroes.” To hear Robert Fripp playing that iconic guitar solo live is certainly worth three figures, yes? Here’s another reason why, courtesy of bassist/stick player Tony Levin, explaining how a recent performance of “The ConstruKction Of Light” went terribly wrong in a recent slow:

“By now, we certainly knew we had a problem about how to bring this piece together. There’s no just counting ‘one two three four’ when one player’s in 28/8 and others in 7/4 offset a quarter note from each other, and the drummers waiting to join in in 15/8 to signal finally getting beyond the verses!” – Tony Levin

Chaos on stage because Levin waited four beats at one point instead of the prescribed six. Does all of that talk of multiple, complex time signatures make your spine tingle, too? If not, then you may not share my Prog Roots. How about this breakdown of Fripp and Levin’s onstage gear? Old habits die hard, I guess but not even all the punk rock in the world can get this rarefied level of technique out of my system fully. At least, this band won’t be in elaborate capes and ice skates. Care to indulge yourself? It is possible to attend without incurring too much financial damage. I am a notorious cheapskate when it comes to ticket prices and this is the first time I’ve ever gone this high when not buying festival tickets, but I suggest that this is not the time to be meek. Radical Action is called for!

King Crimson | Radical Action US Fall Tour | 2017

19 Oct | Bass Concert Hall | Austin, TX
21 Oct | Music Hall @ Fair Park | Dallas, TX
23 Oct | Center Stage | Atlanta, GA
24 Oct | Center Stage | Atlanta, GA
26 Oct | Duke Energy Centre For The Performing Arts | Raleigh, NC
28 Oct | Lisner Auditorium | Washington D.C.
29 Oct | Lisner Auditorium | Washington D.C.
31 Oct | New Jersey Performing Arts Centre | Newark, NJ
02 Nov | Merriam Theatre | Philadelphia, PA
03 Nov | Merriam Theatre | Philadelphia, PA
06 Nov | Orpheum Theatre | Boston, MA
08 Nov | The Egg | Albany, NY
09 Nov | The Egg | Albany, NY
11 Nov | Miller Symphony Hall | Allentown, PA
17 Nov | Beacon Theatre | New York, NY
18 Nov | Beacon Theatre | New York, NY
20 Nov | Palace Theater | Greensburg, PA
22 Nov | Michigan Theatre | Ann Arbor, MI
24 Nov | Hard Rock Rocksino | Cleveland, OH
26 Nov | Riverside Theatre | Milwaukee, WI

– 30 –

Posted in Core Collection, Organ Auction Live Event, Tourdates, Your Prog Roots Are Showing | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

REVO Remastering: Jo Callis – Citizen Callis…Agent Of P.O.P.

REVO | US | CD-R | 2017 | REVO 084

Jo Callis: Citizen Callis – Agent Of P.O.P. US CD-R [2017]

  1. Culture Shock
  2. (But) Not Mine
  3. Glasshouse
  4. Dream On
  5. Invasion Of The Gamma Men
  6. Night By Night
  7. The Rain Song
  8. Hesitate
  9. Woah Yeah
  10. Sinsitrale
  11. Dodo Boys
  12. No Shame
  13. What The Ladies Want
  14. Turn It Down
  15. Stomp, Stomp
  16. International Playboy
  17. No Shame [dub]

What a shock to the system! Barely a month following my last homebrew CD, I have already created the next logical follow up disc! What are the odds? That’s right, the recently-mooted “Unnamed Jo Callis Project” is now out in the world and has a moniker of all its own. The title and design of the disc was not much of a stretch. It owed everything to Callis’ well-documented propensity for 60s pop culture kitsch of the spy-fi and sci-fi variety. If looking at the covers of the records that make up this collection attest to. Take The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Batman [’66], and any and all Gerry Anderson properties and put them in a blender; pressing the frappé button and voila!

The theme of the design was straightforward enough. The difficulty was in obtaining images of Callis from roughly the ’79-’81 period covered by the songs on it. Not to put too fine a point on it, but there was a dearth of images to be found anywhere. Even the records in my collection left a lot to be desired. For instance he’s not pictured on the “Batman” title card pastiche that made up the cover of the Shake 10″ EP. The image on the cover of this CD was taken from the B-side of the S.H.A.K.E. 7″ of “Invasion Of The Gamma Men” and featured an iffy shot of Callis aiming a ray gun. I had to resort to the median filter in Photoshop, but that image drove the design bus.

The CD booklet contained liner notes as well as a discographical notes showing the record covers in detail. The setting for these images was a repurposed computer display panel from Anderson’s U.F.O. series of the late 60s; his first to dispense with marionettes. The rest of the artwork features garish pop art color and photos of famous TV sci-fi spacecraft and submarines from the swinging 60s. Into this mixture, I also repurposed photos of the mind-blowing 1955 turbine powered concept car the Chrysler Ghia Streamline X, that I took at the Frist Center For The Visual Arts last year when they had the amazing “Bellissima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945-1975” art show in house. The full gatefold cover [with the distinctive car I mentioned effortlessly fitting in with sci-fi vehicles from a decade later] is depicted below.

The modfest never ends with Callis

The music on the disc was a solid swath of New Wave with 60s kitsch influences. Particularly on the spectacular “Invasion Of The Gamma Men,” where Troy Tate’s deathless narration proved he could have been a BBC staff announcer at any time past 1940. The music has been covered here, here, and here. It’s mostly guitar-based and future Teardrop Explodes member Troy Tate vies with Callis on the vocals [and sometimes writing] on much of this material. It’s kicky, snappy rock music with a glamrock chaser and all filtered through the sensibilities of  Jo Callis: Agent Of P.O.P.! Making this disc that by rights should have been compiled by professionals…long before now, was one of the reasons why I do this sort of thing.

– 30 –

Posted in Core Collection, Remastering, Scots Rock | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment