Today is the 40th Anniversary of Patti Smith’s landmark debut, Horses

Horses was a crucial step in the evolution of New York Rock & Roll, blending a reverence for Smith’s musical and literary influences, with a fresh and vital perspective on those traditions, and in so doing, it helped lay the groundwork for New York’s (and by proxy, the world’s), nascent Punk scene. Smith’s shamanic, poetic explorations were ably abetted by the sympathetic musicians who would form the core of her band, for the following several years (and further), Lenny Kaye, Ivan Kral, Jay Dee Daugherty and Richard Sohl, who provided both solid ground and an improvisational fluidity perfectly suited to Smith’s style. Add some help from Television’s, Tom Verlaine, Blue Oyster Cult’s, Alan Lanier, John Cale behind the board, god of all that is mastering, Bob Ludwig, on post-production, and the now iconic Robert Mapplethorpe cover photo, and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece, every bit as vital today as it was forty years ago.

Album of The Day: ROKY ERICKSON & THE ALIENS – THE EVIL ONE (ALTERNATE MIXES)

Roky’s got two dates left in a trio of gigs presenting The Evil One in it’s entirety, and what better way to spend the Halloween weekend? If you happen to be in the North Fork, CA area tomorrow, Roky’s playing Vertigo Fest, and on Halloween proper Roky’s gonna be in San Francisco, at The Independent, with The Fresh & Onlys. Walk with a zombie!
http://lightintheattic.net/releases/889-the-evil-one

Album of The Day: Aguaturbia – Vol II Evol (1970)

In honor of the birthday of one Mark Farner, of Grand Funk Railroad, I present an album containing the single greatest GFR cover ever, Aguaturbia’s, Heartbreaker, which outshines the original (I might say the same of their Jailhouse Rock, Rock De La Carcel, as well)

Aguaturbia were a Chilean Psych band, in the vein of a blusier Jefferson Airplane, who only released two LPs, both in 1970. The second LP, Vol II Evol, is probably my favorite South American Psych record (definitely if we exclude Brazil from the list), and an absolute necessity for anyone into such. I first ordered Evol from Forced Exposure mail order in the early 90’s, based on their description of it being mind melting Venusian hippy acid rock, or some such, and was not disappointed. If anything, their hyperbolic description could barely prepare me for the grooves contained therein. The hippy vibes do flow heavy, and the blues reference, often a turn off in the hands of lesser psych bands, is employed to the utmost via the stylish licks and leads of Carlos Corales. Another element setting it apart from the pack, is vocalist, and Carlos’ wife, Denise, who was equally at home with ballads or belters and possessed an accent that added an additional, peculiar trippiness to the overall sound. Not too mention, she’s screaming lyrics like, “everybody making love, everybody making love, and the gods made love!”, while Carlos peels off leads like someone who’s absorbed the work of The Magic Band’s Morris Tepper and Jeff Cotton, as much as Jimmy Page. I’m trying to make some comparison points, but really this LP exists in a state of its own and just needs to be heard. Alien, psychedelic, free loving blues, in the best of all possible ways.

Oh, several years ago, the band reformed and have been gigging steadily since, with Denise and Carlos as the core members. Well worth catching if they happen to be on any continent that you might be near.

Album of The Day: Gabor Szabo – Spellbinder (1966)

An absolutely fantastic melange of international influences, using the past as a framework for developing a new Jazz language. Accompanied by the sympathetic rhythm section of master musicians Ron Carter and Chico Hamilton, and Latin percussionists, Willie Bobo and Victor Pantoja, Szabo deftly combines a world of inspiration into a modal groove with early psychedelic touches, a style for which he became known over further albums. The album features Gypsy Queen, which Carlos Santana would cover on his chart topping album Abraxas, and a striking arrangement of the Sonny Bono penned Cher hit, Bang Bang, with a rare vocal from Szabo. When I thrifted a CD copy of this, it didn’t leave my car stereo for about a month.

Requiem For A Harlequin: David Allan Coe’s 1973 Psychedelic, Proto-Rap, concept album, about the asphalt jungle and civil rights movement

What’s that you say? David Allan Coe preached racial harmony and recorded a Psychedelic Proto-Hip-Hop album? Oh, yes he did, and if it were a wallet pulled from a bag, you could damn well bet that it’s the one that says, “bad motherfucker”.

Requiem For A Harlequin, Coe’s 1973 sophomore release, is a bizarre melange of musical influences, tied together by his socio-political narrative describing the plight of the downtrodden and the impending cultural shift which is “not a war of black and white, but a war of young and old”. His proclamation that he is a “racial radical”, whose “skin is white, eyes are blue, but there’s black blood in my soul”, may come as a surprise, as it did to me, to those familiar with his later “underground” albums, whose racist lyrical content might earn him the sobriquet, “Hillbilly Skrewdriver”. Wishing only to acknowledge, and not disseminate, such recordings any further, I will say that here he sounds earnest when wishing people to “make brotherly love your emphatic slogan”.

For all it’s messages of hope, Requiem paints a bleak picture of the realities of life “as a statistic of the asphalt jungle, where the cesspools of humanity drain”, populated with pimps and pushers, thieves and addicts, and inequality of every stripe, in a world governed by “the dark tales your fathers and grandfathers indoctrinated you with”. In fact, Coe wants to start humanity anew: “Do not conform to society’s rules. Don’t be a puppet no more. Live for tomorrow and forget yesterday”. Lyrically it’s an amalgam of Hippie ideology, and street knowledge akin to a white version of Iceberg Slim, or Lightnin’ Rod, whose legendary albums are considered the antecedents of Hip-Hop , and share much in common with Requiem.

Okay, so you say, “yeah, that sounds interesting lyrically, but what about the music, man?!”. Ah, yes, the music (*smile takes over face). Holy shit, Requiem travels through a bevy of popular contemporary genres (and again, contributes to another yet to be coined), including Blues, Folk, Rock, Gospel, Soul, Funk, even a trippy echoed out flute/organ number (and oddly, no Country, really), and throws in wailing, feedback laden, Psychedelic guitar, for that perfect Exploitation sound. Did you ever think that a David Allan Coe record would be a beat digger’s manna? Probably not, but just listen to him exclaim, “The beating drums, the guitar craze and the new sounds called Soul. Hey! Yeah! Well, alright!”, as that blown out guitar, funky break and groovin’ organ take you straight to Funk nirvana.

What more can I say? This album is just one surprise after another, and at 27 minutes, much too short. Unfortunately, there has never been a reissue, and in my decade plus of searching (and, no, I can’t afford an Ebay copy, on the rare occasion that one surfaces) it remains the only DAC record which I have not stumbled upon. His first record, Penitentiary Blues, released on the same label, SSS, three years prior, is significantly more common. Even if I find someone ditching their David Allan Coellection, the odds of this being in there, are slim at best. Well, until my day comes, I will content myself with the benefits of the digital age, and stream away. I recommend you do the same.

The aforementioned debut also has some monsters, and has been referred to as “Voodoo Blues”, most appropriately for his Screamin’ Jay rip off, Monkey David Wine.

Album of The Day: Christmas – In Excelsior Dayglo

This started as “song of the day” but morphed into the first “album of the day” because it’s a deserving full length and not enough people are familiar with its brilliance.

From their 1986 debut LP, In Excelsior Dayglo, on Big Time Records. IED, despite being their first full length, is a tremendously tight and diverse record, having benefited from the band gigging those songs out for a year or two, before the album’s release. The pairing of Cudahy’s vocals with those of drummer Liz Cox, and their off kilter rhythms and arrangements, played no small portion in setting them apart from the rest of the pack, as well.

I got to see Christmas in 89ish and they were phenomonal. De La Soul’s debut, 3 Feet High and Rising, was just out and I remember Christmas vocalist/guitarist, Michael Cudahy, requesting “The Magic Number” from the club’s DJ, to which he then proceeded to tear up the dance floor. They also played my request, which was either “Dig We Must!” or “Fish Eyed Sandwich”.

It’s tremendously difficult tracking down info on a band with such a, um, popular name as Christmas (their follow up lounge swinger group, Combustible Edison, enjoy much easier googling and wider popularity). As far as I can tell, there are no live videos or cassette recordings available (although if anyone knows of any, please comment) and this video for Big Plans is the sole visual document of that era. Their label, Big Time, was notoriously poor in the handling of promotional materials, but I do remember this video making the rounds on MTV, via 120 Minutes, I believe. Not that I’m shitting on Big Time, though, as there were some other great records to pop outta that label around this time; Redd Kross “Nuerotica”, Dumptruck “Positively”, The Hoodoo Guru’s first two LPs, Alex Chilton’s “High Priest”, Love and Rockets “Express” and “Earth, Sun, Moon” (coincidentally I saw Dumptruck, Chilton and Love and Rockets during their Big Time days), The Fall collection “The Domesday Pay-Off Triad-Plus!”, Go-Betweens “Tallulah”, The Beasts of Bourbon “The Axeman’s Jazz”and what was probably the weakest, though still good, of Scientists albums, “Weird Love”, wherein they re-recorded some of the seminal works.

So, here’s most of their debut. I urge you to get hip to the underrated classic that is, In Excelsior Dayglo