03.23.2012

From the Vault: Shel Silverstein – “Freakin’ at the Freakers Ball”

Shel Silverstein – Stacy Brown Got Two

You know Shel Silverstein, right, RIGHT? Uncle Shelby, the man who wrote “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” “The Giving Tree,” “A Light in the Attic,” etc. etc. etc. AKA Children’s Story-tellter, cartoonist, performer, beat-poet, a sort of everything-talented-kinda-guy.

What you might not know is that Silverstein was a counter-cultural icon who was popular for his bawdy, sexual, drug-infused, profane, obscene, subversive and surreal performances (also wrote for Playboy. Make of that what you will). He made one studio album, the classic FREAKIN’ AT THE FREAKERS BALL (1969), which is far from being a children’s story-telling album or heart-warming poetry reading. No, Freakers Ball is one giant middle-finger to contemporary society. It’s an absurd cry in the face of respectability in which he sings about dangerously kinky sex, pornographic girls-next-door, giving heroin to your significant other (and how it’s kinda a drag), fascist pigs, sadomasochistic drag balls, double-endowed men, group sex songs, spoken-word diatribes (including the rather benign sounding Sarah Cynthia Sylivia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out) and other oddities that are still fresh. Some highlights include Liberated Lady 1999, Polly in a Porny, Stacy Brown got Two, and the rather surreal The Man that Got No Sign, a great, poignant beat poem which, amidst the album’s madcap antics, resonates.

It helps that Silverstein is a great singer, with a voice that is equal parts warbling, gravelly, smoky, and hilarious. The atmosphere is festive, anarchic, and free-form, with a healthy does of juvenile humor and potty jokes to make you feel extra dirty at the end of the day. At times you feel like you’re at some sort of late-after-hours nightclub filled with all your good friends, talking about art, politics, sex, and all that jazz in the most facetious way possible. Put on this record with a good sound system: you can almost smell thee weed emanating from the speakers.

-Robben Muñoz

03.22.2012

FROM THE VAULT: Jack Nitzsche – St. Giles Cripplegate

Jack Nitzsche and the London Symphony Orchestra - #4

Mostly remembered for his production on Neil Young’s albums in the late 60s, Jack Nitzsche’s varied musical talents served him well in the 70s where he rose to prominence as a film composer, which include works as varied as The Exorcist, Performance, An Officer and a Gentleman, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He initially began his career as conductor and arranger for Phil Spector, eventually having musical encounters with the Wrecking Crew, The Rolling Stones, and even Doris Day. However, Nitzsche’s musical arrangements and production skills with Neil Young were so impressive that he was given the chance to compose original orchestral music. St. Giles Cripplegate is the result.


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03.21.2012

FROM THE VAULT: Alice In Chains – Sap

Alice In Chains was one of the great bands of the 1990s. Being a lead act in Seattle’s music scene, Alice In Chains released three albums and three EPs within the span of five years. Their music made an immense contribution to not only grunge, but rock music in general. They’ve influenced numerous bands, including already established Metallica. The harmony between lead singer Layne Staley and guitarist and backing vocalist, Jerry Cantrell was the most important asset of Alice In Chains. Their contrasts brought a compelling listen to their audiences. As Alice In Chains are mostly known for their heavy metal sound that was present in all three of their studio albums, the band, however, wanted to experiment with a softer sound, which ultimately led to the creation of their respective alter ego EPs, Sap and Jar of Flies. The band went into the studio in 1991 to record demos for their next album. However, the songs they recorded ended up being five acoustic songs. According to drummer, Sean Kinney, he had a dream about creating an EP called Sap. The band decided to leave the recordings as they were and release the short collection of songs as an extended play, Sap. Released in 1992, Sap was intended to experiment with a new sound, regardless the risk of losing fans of the band. Sap was successful and was certified gold. The EP had great acknowledgement in the light of the newly formed genre of grunge and Nirvana’s release of Nevermind in 1991. In 1994, another version of the song “Got Me Wrong” was featured on Kevin Smith’s film, Clerks. This brought more attention to the songs and the EP.

Alice In Chains – Got Me Wrong


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03.20.2012

FROM THE VAULT: The Olivia Tremor Control – Black Foliage: Animation Music

The groups involved with Georgia’s Elephant 6 collective sure have some strange names. Until recently, I only knew three: of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel and The Apples in Stereo.

Then, one night, I found this song, off of the album Black Foliage: Animation Music.

The Olivia Tremor Control – I Have Been Floated

The Olivia Tremor Control mixes jagged noise and primary-colored pop tunes, with excellent results. I’m definitely late on the punch with these folks, as these reviews indicate. But on the odd chance you haven’t heard of them, check them out. Check them out now.

-Love, Uncle Mike

03.16.2012

FROM THE VAULT: Loretta Lynn – Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)

She’s here! She’s family! Loretta Lynn’s  album “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’,” has been added to WOBC’s folk vault! It’s an exciting time. For all of y’all who don’t know Loretta Lynn- this lady is a real gem. Lynn’s music is characterized by its honesty; set against the classic country twang of the late 60′s and 70′s are lyrics that discuss domestic abuse, alcoholism, and poverty.

“Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’,” hit Billboard’s #1 on the country album chart in 1967 and was given a “Gold” certification by the RIAA, the first album from a female country singer to receive this.

This album will not disappoint. Look for it on the new folk shelf, yay!

Side One
1. Don’t Come Home A Drink’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)
2. I Really Don’t Want to Know
3. Tomorrow Never Comes
4. There Goes My Everything
5. The Shoe Goes on the Other Foot Tonight
6. Saint to a Sinner

Side Two
1. The Devil Gets His Dues
2. I Can’t Keep Away From You
3. I’m Living In Two Worlds
4. Get What ‘Cha Got and Go
5. Making Plans
6. I Got Caught

03.13.2012

FROM THE VAULT: Kyp Malone – Rain Machine

Kyp Malone of the independent rock band, TV on the Radio, worked on a project that was unexpected and released this as his solo album, Rain Machine, in 2009. Malone uses elements from the musical style of TV on the Radio, and incorporates his own ideas and thoughts much more in depth on his solo effort. He explores many of the sounds and themes that were found on releases of his previous projects. Malone played almost every instrument on this record, making it an interesting listen to what he wants to convey in his music. This record is different from any of his previous efforts in that it infuses acoustic sounds into the music rather than relying heavily on electric guitars.

Rain Machine – Smiling black face

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03.13.2012

From the Neumann Collection: Elvin Jones and Richard Davis, Heavy Sounds

The James and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection is the largest privately owned collection of jazz materials in the United States, and possibly the world. James Neumann, proprietor of the collection and an Oberlin Alumnus, decided last year to donate all of the materials to Oberlin. So far, the school has received about 45,000 vinyl LPs along with thousands of jazz periodicals and collectibles, which does not event amount to half of the entire collection. The recordings will not be available for students for some time, which is why WOBC has decided to give followers a regular taste of the collection’s rare gems. Disclaimer: Information and music posted are sourced from WOBC copies of albums also included in the Neumann Collection.

This week’s dig from the sea of Neuman’s jazz wax is Elvin Jones and Richard Davis’ Heavy Sounds, recorded and released in 1967 on the legendary Impulse! Records. Jones, who made his name as the drummer in John Coltrane’s Quartet of the mid- to late-fifties, and bassist Davis, who recorded with names as diverse as Eric Dolphy and Bruce Springsteen, are in top form on this exemplary hard-bop session. Jones and Davis are joined by tenor saxophonist Frank Foster and pianist Billy Greene on most of the tracks.

Overall, this record swings hard and gets weird just at the right moments. You can hear serious avant-garde intentions in the playing of Jones and Davis, but their music is still deeply rooted in jazz and blues traditions.

Elvin Jones and Richard Davis: “Summertime”

The record begins with a mid-tempo latin-swing rendition of Foster’s “Raunchy Rita”. This 11-minute, blues-drenched jam immediately confirms the album’s title; Jones’ groove layers dark rhythmic textures over Davis’ low-rounded bass tone, providing a heavy background for Foster to improvise with serious force. But perhaps the heaviest moments for this record come three tracks later on a 12-minute bass-drums duo version of “Summertime”, on which Jones takes an intense, pitch-oriented drum solo. Davis colors the track with exceptional bowing and subharmonic techniques, making for a highly unusual and improvisational journey through the classic Gershwin tune. Other highlights include Jones’ delta-blues style guitar playing on “Elvin’s Guitar Blues” (his first and only recorded performance on the instrument), and Foster’s heartbreaking lyricism on the Van Heusen ballad “Here’s That Rainy Day”, a welcome relief from the weight of the preceding tracks.

-Adam Hirsch