Saturday, July 15, 2017

UNPREDICTABLE, UNTETHERED AND UPENDED: "FIRE NIGHT" EARTHMAN

"FIRE NIGHT" (EP)
EARTHMAN

Earthman: All Vocals, Guitar, MIDIs, Programmed Percussion
with
Molly Hill: Keyboards
Liam McCarty: Drums, Percussion
Joseph Schreiber Poznik: Electronic Percussion
Christian Rasmussen: Guitar, Bass Guitar, Bass Synth

Art by Ryan Cain
Photographed and Edited by Kate Nikles
Typography by Thomas Thurlow with assistance from Peter Thurlow

"Wild Is The Wind" music and lyrics by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington

All other music, lyrics, mixing and production by Earthman

Released May 25, 2017

When was the last time that you heard a piece of music that upended you? I mean--truly upended you?

Now..."upended" could mean a variety of things. Certainly, it could have been a piece of music that joyously, remarkably, spectacularly opened up your horizons, beautifully guiding you into a larger musical world that you may have previously not had thought possible or ever knew existed. I have had many of those moments within my life. But those moments are not quite what I am thinking of at this time. By "upended," I am talking about the type of music that challenges you, provokes you, perhaps even troubles, disturbs or maybe even frightens you as what you are hearing fully alters your perceptions about what music could possibly be, what it could and should sound like, how the notes in the music, the choice of words in the lyrics, the quality of the performances and production are combined and congealed in such a way where emotions are stirred and sometimes even birthed not existence, emotions that you have no rhyme or reason in defining. In essence you are untethered, lost in a foreign musical world and the effect could be unnerving to say the least.

For me, as a child I can remember songs by my beloved Beatles that seemed to just rub me in the wrong way. Songs like "Strawberry Fields Forever," for instance, where some of the notes, the sound of  John Lennon's voice and the disturbed dreamlike sound of George Martin's production  just sounded...wrong.  Or perhaps a track like "Helter Skelter," one where I loved its raw, rock and roll energy, but I did find myself racing to the record player to move the needle before Ringo Starr howled his bloodcurdling scream, "I'VE GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!!!!!!" And do not let me started on the indescribable sound collage that is "Revolution #9." Of course, now I treasure all of those songs and sounds more than I could ever tell you. But back in my childhood, those were sounds I may have not been quite ready for...but if I was never exposed, how could I ever be ready?

Beyond The Beatles, I think of full albums like Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" (released October 12, 1979), an album so far away sonically from their previous album, the iconic classic that is "Rumours" (released February 4, 1977), that I just hated it and it took me nearly 20 years before I could appreciate and love it for the ahead-of-its-time masterpiece that it truly is. And then, there's Pink Floyd's "The Wall" (released November 30, 1979) and even Nine Inch Nails' "The Downward Spiral" (released March 8, 1994), two releases that completely terrified me, making me wonder if I was listening to something that may have been evil. And then, there's The Cure's "The Head On The Door" (released August 26, 1985)...that one gave me nightmares.

In all of those situations and passages during my musical development, I was upended. Completely, powerfully upended. I guess I felt like that image in Director Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" (2013), where Sandra Bullock is spiraling end over end into the vast, unforgiving blackness and bleakness of interstellar space. I was untethered, unable to find my bearings when I heard all of that music and it took some serious work to fully learn, understand, appreciate and in most cases love all of them (except that one Cure album--I just can't get into that one). I was the quintessential stranger in a strange land as far as my musical learnings were concerned, and being in a place so foreign can be initially terrifying sometimes.

I bring all of this up to you because I wanted to share with you a new 2017 release, as well as one from a local artist to Madison, WI, that has indeed upended me. Seriously, unquestionably upended me.

The artist is named Earthman, the alter ego of musician/songwriter/singer Thomas Thurlow, and just a couple of short months ago, the fruits of his intensely labored over musical endeavors were finally released to the world in the form of a debut EP entitled "Fire Night." Containing only 4 songs and running a mere 24 minutes in length, Earthman has delivered a deceptively small package that once opened reveals a dark doorway into uncharted territory for my ears. It is a work that confused me and yes, it did even frighten me...to the point where I am unable to listen to the EP at night, due to completely irrational and obviously childlike fears of what might be unearthed should the sounds of the music make contact with the shadows on the wall and in the witching hour.

No, Earthman has not delivered a pseudo horror EP. But it is indeed one where when I was finished with that first full listen, the sounds of the subsequent silence were essentially all I could find myself able to handle as I needed to process about what the hell I had just experienced. How does one even begin to describe music that feels so indescribable? Well, I am going to try...and perhaps this will inspire you to take a deep dive into the unknown.

1. "Vampire"-"Fire Night" opens with a 7 minute plus suite in what feels to be 3 parts that begins in familiar territory but soon drops the floor out from underneath you. Enveloped by an insistently percolating electronic beat augmented with some sinister slide guitar, the pulse of "Vampires" simultaneously feels as if you are hunting something or someone while also eliciting a feeling of being caught and therefore trapped. Once Earthman sets the lyrical stage with his turbulent vocals, ("Please could you kill it," he pleads. "I can't look at it anymore.") the song already begins to feel like the walls are closing in.

After the surprising shifts in perspective from hunted to the titular presence ("don't you know it's you they're staring at"), a most ominous warning ("120 minutes from now we'll all know how it went down"), and rhythmic chants of "Oooooh blood sucker," the song abruptly transforms into a brief passage that would not sound out of place upon a Tangerine Dream album.

From here, we enter a disturbingly ethereal section presented via Earthman's striking falsetto and a downright groovy drum beat yet provides us with a landscape complete with ghost bike riders, baby tooth dealers all populating a domain where the day never comes and the repeated refrain (presented both forwards and backwards) "nightmares are all you get."

Through the looking glass indeed...and there's no way back.

2. "Flesh"-
Glacial synthesizers and a pensive, lonely piano sets the stage for the EP's second selection, a slinky, spooky ballad where Earthman eerily evokes the spirit of The Cure's mastermind Robert Smith.

"I dreamt your heart for fourteen nights
Still I know something isn't right
So give me an honest reaction tonight
Don’t give me an honest reaction tonight
or be the one thats from my dreams
Colored lights
Fanatics
Don’t tell me it quietly
Come on baby lie to me
I don't want to understand you tonight...


...But I saw you
kissing with your eyes open
but you saw me
kissing with my eyes open
again

nothings ever good enough ..." 


Again, as I listened to this track, I felt as if I had my bearings (albeit they were shaken up by the unsettling terror of "Vampire") as the woozy synthetics and minimalist electronic beats carried a certain familiarity but even so, it was how everything was combined that wove underneath my skin uneasily...especially in the song's final minute, which sounds like being propelled backwards underwater and into the maw of something unspeakable.

3. "Tidal Pools"-The third opens in place that feels to be entirely submerged. Earthman's vocals sounds nearly buried underneath the waves of sound yet they valiantly attempt to find some sense of escape, as aided by a lonely Bass Guitar which sounds as if it is scouring for a groove to lock into. And then, we find ourselves again traveling another vortex of backwards sonics, distorted vocals and a wall of dangerously eerie effects that leave you with truly nothing to hold onto.  

4. "Wild Is The Wind"-On this nearly seven and a half minute final track, Earthman engages his inner David Bowie as he boldly, bravely tackles the song the icon covered upon his own "Station To Station" (released January 23, 1976) and also with a dash of Bowie's "'Heroes'" thrown in for extra effect.

What we have with the Earthman version remains a torch song albeit one that sounds as if it has been explicitly pulled apart and pasted back together and sounds as if it is being performed in a bombed out European cafe of the mind. A piano tinkles and then fades. A Bass Guitar creeps along. Dissonant sounds ebb and flow. The full band picks up a pseudo bossa nova beat midway and barely keeps it stitched together. And through it all, Earthman's voice croons, whispers, pleads, aches, rises, falls, shrieks, screams and howls like a wounded Banshee until song's end, when there simply is no more.

On this first listen, Earthman's "Fire Night" felt to be a deep impenetrable dive into an aural nightmare world where music and even sound itself became elements that were just too frightening and dark to grasp fully. Like a fading dream, whether good or bad, these four songs presented soundscapes where the moment that you could feel as if you could latch onto a certain sound, tonality, melody, instrumentation or vocal, it would rapidly disappear leaving a fearsome new element in its place.

I am unable to stress to you enough how displaced I felt while listening to the EP as it was truly an amalgamation of the intentional, experimental, familiar and the vastly arcane all formulated into something I just could not recognize and again, it was a work that upended me. Imagine being in a deep pool of water with nothing to reach for. That is what "Fire Night" felt like.

With all of that being said, I would not be surprised if some to even many of you would be remarking to yourselves that based upon those written words, this just may not be the music you would wish to seek out. But, to that, I urge you to keep reading because I believe that for all of the uneasiness and occasional cacophony, Thomas Thurlow as Earthman quite possibly has tapped into something extremely powerful.

Returning to earlier in this posting where I mentioned the songs and albums that once frightened me that I now adore, I now ask of you to think of the songs, albums and artists that perhaps gave you the exact same feelings when you first heard or even saw them. Did you embrace David Bowie, for instance, when he first arrived onto the scene or when he further exploded into his Ziggy Stardust phase and all of his transformations afterwards--none of which were remotely "warm," so to speak?

In essence, I am speaking to the overall nature of art itself and its purpose to inspire and to even provoke as it is not the job of art to necessarily be comfortable. Art is designed to challenge, to force you to view the life experience through a completely different lens--essentially to shake and rattle the cages of your respective comfort zones. Of course, some things you will just not respond to, but when you do respond, the windows of your life have just been extended wider.

Regarding music, I have often lamented alongside Steve Manley, owner of Madison, WI's B-Side Records, that despite the great music that continues to be made every day, the innovation, the spark and energy that felt to be so prevalent during the '50's-'90's, and so euphorically throughout the '60's and '70's, where artists seemed to be re-inventing the musical wheel over and over again, just may have evaporated. Or better yet, the monolithic music business is such where someone who just might be re-inventing that musical wheel RIGHT NOW would never be heard.

I have no idea whatsoever if Thomas Thurlow is indeed that artist who has re-invented the wheel of music. But, I can say, and with absolutely no disrespect intended for my beloved Madison, WI bands including Post Social, Dash Hounds, Trophy Dad and others, Thurlow's Earthman has crafted a sound that is entirely unlike anything else that I have heard yet and it strongly feels to exist within its own universe.

In the real world, I have met Thomas Thurlow in person once and I have corresponded with him on-line here and there since. In all of our conversations, he has proven himself to be more then genuine and certainly, very excited about the musical possibilities at hand for himself and for the Madison music community. I also know that he is a careful and equally genuine artist as he spent over a year of his life crafting the four songs that make up "Fire Night," and to hear the EP, the time spent shows dramatically.

"Fire Night" is a meticulously arranged work that houses a production that is nothing less than crystalline and defiantly showcases that not even one sound is out of place. To my ears, Thurlow clearly knows what he is doing yet in our correspondence, he has questioned himself. He has expressed to me that he does indeed realize the difference between himself and his contemporaries and therefore, he has housed some bouts with his self-confidence as the "wrongness" of his material compared with others truly sets him apart.

That being said, I again feel that Thurlow is onto something, for he has allowed his creative spirit to guide him all the way through the writing, performing, recording and release of "Fire Night" to a fearless degree. Within that artistic inspiration and invention at hand and in my mind, I have since returned to his EP several times as I have made attempts to meet him where he is artistically and to try and find my way afterwards. While the effect of the EP remains tremendously unsettling, I am now wondering if what he has concocted is not really something sinister but in actuality, something .
innocent and therefore, more universal than it seems. And if only we gave it an honest chance, we could possibly discover that we, artist and listener, may have much tremendously in common.

Instead of being a soundtrack to a mental horrorshow, what if "Fire Night" is actually the sonic journey of a fragile, sensitive soul enduring some emotional upheaval, where we are gathering a front row seat to an individual caught in the throes of their most unhinged, untethered and upended state?  What if the EP is the sound of a broken heart and broken spirit lost in an extremely cold, cruel world? Instead of creating songs that can describe what certain emotions necessarily feel like, Earthman has delved further and deeper by capturing what certain emotional states might actually sound like!!

Try to think of times in which we have all faced some personal upheaval or tragedy and how our perceptions and outlook of the world around us are all transformed. What once seemed "normal," is not. Adjusting to a new "normal" can be daunting to the point of paralysis. The loss of a love, be it family, friend or lover, redefines devastation and maybe "Fire Night" is that sound of individual emotional and psychological desolation, in all of its unease, turbulence, presence of demons and encroaching darkness. And in some bizarre way, Earthman has harnessed something that should be impossible to capture.

Earthman's "Fire Night" is...well, even after all of these words, I am still not sure about what it is or could be or even quite precisely what I feel about it and truthfully, that is a good thing! Thomas Thurlow, through his intense creativity, has produced a work of art that has made feel uncomfortable to the degree that I have been challenged to re-think what music can actually be and if that is not something worth celebrating and promoting, then I do not know what is.

Trust me, dear readers and listeners, for I would not steer you wrong. I understand that for some, this may not be your cup of tea but I am gently urging you to head to the Earthman Bandcamp page to, at the very least, try out this music which certainly serves to be a forcefully thrown brick through the windows of our homogenized, plasticized, and rampantly uninspired musical landscape of 2017.

I know that I will undoubtedly be returning to Earthman's musical world very soon...but I still think that I can only do it during the light of day.

EARTHMAN:
https://earthman1.bandcamp.com/releases

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

SCENES AND PLAYLISTS FROM THE 5TH ANNUAL WLHA RESURRECTION REUNION WEEKEND 2017 ON WSUM-FM-JULY 9, 2017

Another year, another WLHA Resurrection Reunion weekend has been accomplished! 

For the past four years after each event, I have written an extensive, play-by-play account of my involvement on the day I participated and in many ways, I don't feel the need to do so again at this time. Don't get me wrong, this particular change is not for any lack of excitement and love I harbored for the day and the weekend event as a whole. Oh no!! The day was as beautiful, warm and tremendous as they have always been and the longer we are able to have these events, the greater their importance and meaning to me. 

I felt that this time, perhaps I would allow the images and our set lists to do all of the talking, so to speak. What I am hoping for is that you can feel the warmth of the day just through the images and if you know any of the songs played either my myself, or Lisa "The Grue" Grueneberg or by Kelly Klaschus and her "House Of Klaschus" family members, which includes her husband and former 'LHA DJ Brian Klaschus and their teenage son Alex, perhaps you can listen to some of them as you gaze at the images. Sometimes, music and images are more effective than words...
 
SAVAGE SCOTT'S WLHA PLAYLIST 2017 8 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
1. "Good Morning" performed by Lenny Kravitz
2. "Watch The Sunrise" performed by Big Star
3. "Sunkissed" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
4. "Dreamboy" performed by Dash Hounds
5. "Dimensions" performed by Skyline Sounds
6. "Easy Money" performed by Johnny Marr
7. "Cheapskate" performed by Supergrass
8. "Caravan" performed by Utopia
9. "Heart Of Stone" performed by Dave Stewart
10.""Love Nebula" performed by Kainalu
11. "Let's Go Crazy" performed by Prince and the Revolution
12. "I Am What I Am" performed by Adrian Belew
13. "Arlandria" performed by Foo Fighters
14. "Nothing Lasts Forever Anymore" performed by Sloan
15. "Boys On The Radio" performed by Hole 
16. "Left Of The Dial" performed by The Replacements
17. "Candy (She's Not So Sweet)" performed by Disq
18. "Walk It Down" performed by Talking Heads
19. "D.J." performed by David Bowie

THE GRUE'S WLHA PLAYLIST 2017 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
1. "Down In The Cockpit" performed by XTC
2. "So It Goes" performed by Nick Lowe
3. "Down My Block" performed by Trip Shakespeare
4. "Hand In Glove" performed by The Smiths
5. "Let's Go To Bed" performed by The Cure
6. "Spanish Bombs" performed by The Clash
7. "Monkey Gone To Heaven" performed by Pixies
8. "Detachable Penis" performed by King Missile
9. "Alex Chilton" performed by The Replacements
10. "The Ballad Of El Goodo" performed by Big Star
11. "Vicious" performed by Lou Reed
12. "Who Loves The Sun" performed by The Velvet Underground
 
13."Lovers In A Dangerous Time" performed by Barenaked Ladies
14."Cannonball" performed by The Breeders
15."Laid" performed by James
16. "Close To Me" performed by The Cure
17. "Abdul and Cleopatra" performed by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
18. "Skyway" performed by The Replacements
19. "Rotating Head" performed by The (English) Beat
20. "Little Floater" performed by NRBQ
21. "Rock And Roll Lifestyle" performed by Cake
22. "Kiss Off" performed by Violent Femmes
23. "Riptide" performed by Vance Joy
24. "Cactus" performed by Pixies
25. "Hey Jealousy" performed by Gin Blossoms

KELLY KLASCHUS AND THE HOUSE OF KLASCHUS' WLHA PLAYLIST 12 p.m.- 2 p.m.
1. "Girls And Boys" performed by Blur
2. "We Got The Power" performed by Gorillaz
3. "Higher Ground" performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers
4. "Party At Ground Zero" performed by Fishbone
5. "These Important Years" performed by Husker Du
6. "Can't Hardly Wait" performed by The Replacements
7. "September" performed by Earth Wind and Fire
8. "25 Or 6 To 4" performed by Chicago
9. "Do The Funky Penguin" performed by RUFUS THOMAS
10.""Monkey Man" performed by The Specials
11. "Cooking Class/Skillet" performed by The Time
12. "Cherry Pie" performed by Pistol Pete
13. "Anotherloverholenyohead" performed by Prince and the Revolution
14. "She's Long Gone" performed by The Black Keys
15. "Love In A Minor Key" Welshly Arms
16. "Blowin' Steam" performed by OverServed Gentlemen
17. "Hong Kong Garden" performed by Siouxsie and the Banshees
18. "Army Of Me" performed by Bjork
19. "Scarred But Smarter" performed by Drivin' And Cryin'
20. "Mad Town" performed by The Other Kids

And there you have it...the full playlists representing 6 full hours of my friends and myself, representing our respective pasts while thoroughly enjoying each other and being able to get together once again in the present to celebrate the legacy of the very student radio station that originally brought us into each other's lives in the first place.

While it is admittedly a little odd that we are still the only WLHA veterans from or specific era in time to return to pay homage, I am really feeling more than a little protective and undeniably filled with pride that we are indeed the ones who will be the keepers of the flame, so to speak, until that day when more from our time should choose to join in the fun. But, should they not, and for however long WSUM allows these events to continue, I would be so honored if we could still come back and represent ourselves and all of those who were with us in those days, because for me, my four years at WLHA are truly some of the most treasured of my entire life, as well as being so very crucial to my college experience overall.
For being able to participate once again in this Resurrection Reunion weekend, my gratitude is as steadfast as it is bottomless to WLHA veterans and weekend masterminds Kevin Peckham and Kevin "Nivek" Ruppert,  plus the students and staff of WSUM for again negotiating, organizing, hosting and presenting this monumental event that truly celebrates the priceless and unbreakable bonds that were all forged through a shared love of music and radio as well as the incredible 70 year legacy of student radio on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. 

And for Kelly and her beautiful family, for Lisa, for Sue Grass (who was  not able to join us this year but we'll see you next year for certain), and to all of the WLHA veterans I met, am still connected with and will always remember from those four years in that musty smelling basement, I will love and treasure you for all days because our friendship and specialized tribe is unlike any other and I am honored to be in your company.

Year six??? Please????

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

WSPC'S SESSION NOTES JULY 2017: SUPPORT THE LOCAL, CONQUER THE GLOBAL

FROM THE DJ'S STUDIO DESK:
It's that time again for me, dear readers and listeners. The time when it all comes together so harmoniously. Yes...in one week's time, I will return to my radio stomping grounds so to speak as the University of Wisconsin-Madison's exemplary college/community radio station WSUM-FM, will host the 5th annual WLHA Resurrection/Reunion Weekend event!!!!

This is an extremely important time for me as it allows me to not only visit the beautiful WSUM studios again, thus re-aligning the radio station that existed in my head during my college radio years between 1987-1991 and the realities the current crop of college students are graced with long after WLHA's end in 1993.

It is a time to reunite with friends made during the college years, meet a collective of like minded individuals who have traveled across the country to take part in this event, meet the current keepers of the flame and to finally, re-connect with a piece of my spirit that has existed ever since I was first captivated with the radio as a small child. It is an amazing day, the fun and significance of which is never lost upon me, even now as I am happily hosting a weekly program on WVMO FM, for there are no guarantees and believe me, I am more thankful for the opportunities and experiences that I have had in radio now than I ever have been in the past.

It's funny because whenever I have been on the air at any of those three radio stations, it is very easy to feel as if I am operating somewhat within a vacuum. Now, back when I was on WLHA, it probably was more like that as the wattage was so profoundly minuscule and it was difficult to hear the station in the first place. But now, with the broadcast towers and the wonders of internet technology and live streaming capabilities, the ability to heard worldwide is something that I am still finding myself becoming used to as it all seems to be so impossible. But, it is possible...rather,  more than possible, because it is happening!!

With that, there comes a new found responsibility with being on the air and finding a way to communicate to people that are not just within the boundaries of my city and state but much further beyond as well. To represent my city, my alma mater, the local station(s) with which I am aligned and of course, myself, hopefully, anyone that chooses to listen can hear the fun I am having but also an impression of what the music in Madison has to offer.

I want people from anywhere and everywhere in the world to hear all of us in Madison, from the DJs and the left of center stations to the musical artists that are continuously surprising me and fully enlivening our fair city and music itself. I hope that when I go on the air for my Savage Radio show and this weekend at WSUM, I am a good representative and I pledge and promise to do my best for the stations, the artists and the city.

For this month in Synesthesia, I am hoping to finally shed some light on some new local releases, all of which have impressed me tremendously and I sincerely hope that after reading, you will show these local artists and local heroes some love and exceedingly well deserved attention.

So...for now, I'll "sign off" as I again invite you to check me and my city out in the real world on WSUM 91.7 FM (on Sunday, July 9th beginning at 8 a.m.) as well as WVMO 98.7 FM (every Wednesday night from 7 p.m.-8 p.m.)...

...and remember to always PLAY LOUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 30, 2017

WSPC PLAYLIST JUNE 2017: THE 6TH ANNUAL BLACK MUSIC MONTH TRIBUTE

"Nightlife" by Archibald John Motley Jr. , 1943 oil on canvas
June 1, 2017
"Black And Tan Fantasy" (live at Newport) performed by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra
"West End Blues" performed by Louis Armstrong
"Black Coffee" performed by Ella Fitzgerald
"Broken  Hearted Melody" performed by Sarah Vaughan
"What A Difference A Day Makes" performed by Dinah Washington

"(You Caught Me) Smilin'" performed by Sly and the Family Stone
"Lady" performed by Lenny Kravitz
"Dust" performed by Van Hunt
"Holy" performed by Jamilla Woods
"Power" performed by Kanye West

"Full Of Smoke" performed by Christion
"Be Here" performed by Raphael Saadiq with D'Angelo
"Hold On" performed by En Vogue
"Creep" performed by TLC
"Here Comes The Hotstepper" performed by Ini Kamoze

June 2, 2017
"Wild And Peaceful" (live 1974) performed by Kool and the Gang

"Reasons" performed by Minnie Ripperton
"No Pain, No Gain" performed by Betty Wright
"Jada" performed by The Pointer Sisters
"Giving Up" (original) performed by Gladys Knight and the Pips

"Back And Forth" performed by Cameo
"Stay A Little While Child" performed by Loose Ends
"Burn Rubber" performed by The Gap Band
"Cool" performed by The Time

"Misrepresented People" performed by Stevie Wonder
"Reflection" (live) performed by Prince with Wendy Melvoin

June 3, 2017

SOUL TRAIN SATURDAY MORNING
"Struttin'" performed by Billy Preston
"You Got The Love" performed by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
"Let 'Em In" performed by Billy Paul
"Ain't Gone Hurt Nobody" performed by Brick
"Finally Got Myself Together" performed by The Impressions

"Africa" performed by Richard Pryor from "Richard Pryor: Live On The Sunset Strip"
"We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue/Give Me Your Love" (live) performed by  Curtis Mayfield
"People...Hold On" performed by Eddie Kendricks

HAPPY 40TH ANNIVERSAY TO "EXODUS" BY BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS
"The Heathen" (live)
"So Much Things To Say"
"Exodus" (live 1977)

Thundercat performing LIVE at the BBC 6 Music Festival 2017

June 4, 2017
"Peace" performed by Ornette Coleman
"Monk's Dream" performed by Thelonious Monk
"A Day In The Life" performed by Grant Green

"Proud Mary" (live 1982) performed by Tina Turner
"Heartburn" performed by Alicia Keys
"Black Cat" performed by Janet Jackson
"Don't You Want Me" performed by Jody Watley
"Rock Steady" performed by Aretha Franklin

"I've Got Dreams To Remember" performed by Otis Redding

June 5, 2017
"Monday Morning Blues" performed by Mississippi John Hurt
"Keep It To Yourself" performed by Sonny June Boy Williamson
"When The Hurt Is Over" performed by Mighty Sam McClain
"The Sky Is Crying" performed by Gary B.B. Coleman
"When I Woke Up This Morning: performed by Lightnin' Hopkins

"Vibes And Stuff" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Midnight Sun" performed by Lionel Hampton
"Apple Blossom" performed by Esperanza Spalding featuring Milton Nascimento
"Day To Day" performed by Robert Glasper Experiment
"Rising Down" performed by The Roots

"Stereotypes" performed by Black Violin

June 6, 2017
"Stratus" performed by Billy Cobham
"Capricorn" performed by George Duke
"Cebu" performed by The Commodores

"Still Waters Run Deep" performed by The Four Tops
"It's Gonna Take A Miracle" performed by The Royalettes
"Right On The Tip Of My Tongue" performed by Brenda & The Tabulations
"I Love You For All Seasons" performed by The Fuzz
"How Can I Tell My Mom And Dad" performed by The Lovelites

June 7, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO PRINCE ROGERS NELSON-JUNE 7, 1958
"Mountains" performed by Prince and the Revolution
"I Wanna Be Your Lover"
"She's Always In My Hair" performed by Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL
"When You Were Mine" (live)
"Kiss" performed by Prince and the Revolution
"America" (live) performed by Prince and the Revolution

June 8, 2017
"In A Sentimental Mood" performed by Duke Ellington and John Contrane
"You And I" performed by Stevie Wonder"

"Cold Little Heart" (live session) performed by Michael Kiwanuka
"River" performed by Leon Bridges
"Because I'm Me" performed by The Avalanches
"I Won't Complain" performed by Benjamin Clementine
"A Change Is Gonna Come" performed by Brian Owens and Thomas Owens
"Why Is It So Hard" (live on KEXP) performed by Charles Bradley

June 9, 2017
"H2OGate Blues" performed by Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson

"Ain't That Peculiar" performed by Marvin Gaye
"My Baby Loves Me" performed by Martha and the Vandellas
"Hey Joe" performed by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
"Prototype" performed by OutKast
"People Get Up And Drive Your Funky Soul" performed by JAMES BROWN

June 10, 2017

SOUL TRAIN SATURDAY MORNING
"They Just Can't Stop It (Games People Play)" performed by The Spinners
"Just Don't Want To Be Lonely" performed by The Main Ingredient
"So Very Hard To Go" performed by Tower Of Power featuring Lenny Williams
"Can This Be Real?" performed by The Natural Four
"Dancing Machine" performed by The Jackson 5

"My Baby Just Cares For Me" performed by Nina Simone
"Fraser (The Sensuous Lion)" performed by Sarah Vaughan
"Green Eyes" performed by Erykah Badu
"Let Me Down Easy" performed by Bettye Lavette
"I Want To Be Evil" performed by Eartha Kitt

DJ Jazzy Jeff Budweiser Philadelphia Boiler Room set

June 11, 2017
"St. Thomas" performed by Sonny Rollins
"Moanin'" performed by Charles Mingus
"Booker's Garden" performed by Charles Lloyd Quartet

"Betray My Heart/Spanish Joint" (live North Sea Jazz Festival) performed by D'Angelo and the Vanguard
"She Ran Away" performed by Cody C hesnuTT-WSPC PREMIERE
"Nights Over Egypt" performed by The Jones Girls
"Searchin'" performed by Roy Ayers
"Chicago, Damn" performed by Bobbi Humphrey
"Hard Times" (live) performed by John Legend and The Roots

June 12, 2017
"Too Darn Hot" performed by Ella Fitzgerald
"Electric Chair" (live on "SNL" 1990) performed by Prince

"Call It What It Is" performed by Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
"I Wanna Breathe" performed by Sananda Maitreya
"Someone Like You" performed by Living Colour

June 13, 2017
"Tracks Of My Tears" performed by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
"Love Is Here And Now You're Gone" performed by The Supremes
"I Found A Love Pts. 1 & 2" performed by Wilson Pickett
"You're So Fine" performed by The Falcons
"Eddie My Love" performed by The Teen Queens
"Up On The Mountains" performed by The Magnificents
"Ka Ding Dong" performed by The G -Clefs

"Evil" performed by Stevie Wonder
"Maggot Brain" performed by Funkadelic
"Fight For Nutmeg" performed by Fishbone

June 14, 2017
"Scirocco" performed by Tony Williams Lifetime
"I Feel Sanctified" performed by The Commodores
"Up For The Down Stroke" performed by Parliament

"Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved)" performed by JAMES BROWN
"Hot Stuff" performed by Donna Summer
"Hot Boyz" performed by Missy Elliot
"Drop It Like Its Hot" performed by Snoop Dogg with Pharrell Williams
"Hot In Herre" performed by Nelly

June 15, 2017
"Keep Your Head To The Sky" performed by Earth Wind and Fire
"It's All Over" performed by Ohio Players
"Statue Of A Fool" performed by David Ruffin

"What The World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love" performed by The Isley Brothers and Santana-WSPC PREMIERE

June 16, 2017
"Me And My Woman" performed by Shuggie Otis
"Wanted Dread Or Alive" performed by Peter Tosh
"BAM BAM" performed by Sister Nancy
"Black Roses" performed by Barrington Levy
"Ring The Alarm" performed by Tenor Saw
"Rain" performed by Divine Styler

"Year Of The Dragon" performed by Wyclef Jean
"Gun" performed by  Gil Scott-Heron
"Someday We'll All Be Free" performed by Donny Hathaway
"Life Is Better" performed by Q-Tip with Norah Jones
"That Hump" performed by Erykah Badu

June 17, 2017

SOUL TRAIN SATURDAY MORNING
"Pillow Talk" performed by Sylvia
"Day Dreaming" performed by Aretha Franklin
"Loves Maze" performed by The Temprees
"To Be True" performed by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes
"And I Panicked" performed by The Dramatics

"I Love Myself" performed by Chaka Khan-WSPC PREMIERE

Just Blaze Boiler Room DJ set in London

June 18, 2017

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY--IN HONOR OF MY DAD, THE MUSIC OF MILES DAVIS
"So What"
"Dear Old Stockholm"
"Someday My Prince Will Come"
"Solea"
"Summer Nights"
"You're My Everything"

June 19, 2017
JAMES BROWN live on Italian television 1971
"L'Aventure du Jazz" performed by George Benson, Jimmy Slyde, Papa Jo Jones
"Hot Summer" (live) performed by Prince

"Stakes Is High" (live) performed by Robert Glasper Experiment with Mos Def
"Black America Again" performed by Common featuring Stevie Wonder
"I Try" performed by Talib Kweli featuring Mary J. Blige
"Respiration" performed by Blackstar featuring Common
"When I B On Tha Mic" performed by Rakim

June 20, 2017
"Living For The City" performed by Stevie Wonder
"Black Lives Matter" performed by Andre Cymone-WSPC PREMIERE
"Drawn" performed by De La Soul featuring Little Dragon
"We The People" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Compared to What' performed by Les McCann and Eddie Harris

"Introduction/Maiden Voyage" (live) performed by Herbie Hancock
"That How I Feel" performed by Sun Ra

"Housequake/The Bird" (live) performed by Prince with The New Power Generation & 3RDEYEGIRL

June 21, 2017
"Snake Oil" performed by Tony Williams
"Dreaming About You" performed by The Blackbyrds
"Summer Nights" performed by Lonnie Liston Smith
"Soul Girl" performed by Ahmad Jamal
"The Wolf" performed by Darondo

June 22, 2017
"Nevertheless (I'm In Love With You)" performed by The Mills Brothers
"Drinking Again" performed by Dinah Washington
"Joey" performed by Natalie Cole
"For The Good Times" performed by Al Green
"I'm Dying Of Thirst" performed by Robert Glasper

"Fight The Power (parts 1 & 2)" performed by The Isley Brothers
"Bank Robber Man" performed by Lenny Kravitz
"If You Don't Like The Effects, Don't Produce The Cause" performed by Funkadelic

June 23, 2017
"Wake Up" (live) performed by John Legend and The Roots
"Beasts Of No Nation" performed by Fela Kuti

"I Believe To My Soul" (live in Zaire 1974) performed by B.B. King
"Five Long Years" performed by Buddy Guy
"One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" performed by John Lee Hooker
"Back Door Man" performed by Howlin' Wolf
"Champagne And Reefer" performed by Muddy Waters
"Summertime" performed by Big Mama Thornton

June 24, 2017

SOUL TRAIN SATURDAY MORNING
"Harlem" performed by The 5th Dimension
"What's Your Name" performed by The Moments
"If It's In You To Do Wrong" performed by The Impressions
"So In Love With You" performed by Leroy Hutson
"Close To You" performed by Ronnie Dyson
"If You Let Me" performed by Eddie Kendricks

"Waterworld" performed by Handsome Boy Modeling School featuring Encore
"Keep On" performed by Alfa Mist-WSPC PREMIERE
"Sunrays" performed by Madlib

DJ BOILER ROOM SET WITH JAYDA G.

June 25, 2017
"Bethena" performed by Scott Joplin
"After You've Gone" performed by  Fats Waller and Art Tatum
"C Jam Blues" performed by Oscar Peterson Trio

REMEMBERING MICHAEL JACKSON: 8 YEARS LATER
"This Time Around"
"In The Closet"
"Liberian Girl"
"Butterflies"
"Human Nature"
"Enjoy Yourself" performed by The Jacksons
"Show You The Way To Go" performed by The Jacksons
"Blame It On The Boogie" performed by The Jacksons
"Maybe Tomorrow" performed by The Jackson 5
"Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)" performed by The Jacksons

June 26, 2017
"Ignorance Is Bliss" performed by Living Colour
"Judgement Day" performed by 24-7 Spyz
"Mistachuck" performed by Chuck D.
"My Philosophy" performed by Boogie Down Productions
"Unyielding Conditioning" performed by Fishbone

June 27, 2017
"Rapper's Delight" performed by The Sugarhill Gang

"Free Your Mind" performed by En Vogue
"Are You That Somebody" performed by Aaliyah
"Gotta Work" performed by Amerie
"Ladies First" performed by Queen Latifah featuring Monie Love
"Expression" performed by Salt N' Pepa

"Get It Up" performed by The Time
"Dark Prince" performed by Geri Allen Trio

June 28, 2017
"Hello, Jeff" performed by Stanley Clarke
"Snoopy's Search/Red Baron" performed by Billy Cobham

"Sweet Love" performed by Anita Baker
"Blue Skies" performed by Josephine Baker
"Remember When" performed by The Platters
"Hurts So Bad" performed by Little Anthony and the Imperials
"Thinkin Bout You" performed by Frank Ocean

June 29, 2017
"ELEMENT." performed by Kendrick Lamar-WSPC PREMIERE
"Who Shot Ya?" performed by Living Colour
"Can't Truss It" performed by Public Enemy
"Fishin' 4 Religion" performed by Arrested Development
"Get The Funk Out Ma Face" performed by The Brothers Johnson

June 30, 2017
"One Nation Under A Groove" performed by Funkadelic
"Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved" performed by JAMES BROWN
"Bustin' Out" performed by Rick James
"Move On Up" performed by Curtis Mayfield

"Take The A Train" performed by Duke Ellington
"Gutter Rainbows" performed by Talib Kweli
"Wholly Holy" performed by Aretha Franklin
"What's Going On" (live) performed by Marvin Gaye
"Let's Go Crazy" (live) performed by Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL
"Easy Goin' Evening (My Mama's Call)" performed by Stevie Wonder


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

SAVAGE RADIO PLAYLISTS JUNE 2017: WVMO 98.7 FM-THE VOICE OF MONONA

SAVAGE RADIO EPISODE #79: "BLACK MUSIC MONTH TRIBUTE 2017"-JUNE 14, 2017
1. "Black Man In America" performed by Andre Cymone
2. "Skywriter" performed by The Jackson 5
3. "Dust" performed by Van Hunt
4. "I Miss" performed by Jesse Johnson
5. "Grinder" performed by Gary Clark Jr.
6. "La La, La, Hee, Hee, Hee" performed by Prince
7. "Easy To Be Hard" performed by Cheryl Barnes from the film "Hair"
8. "Feel The Energy" performed by Angelo Moore & The Brand New Step
9. "I'm Dying Of Thirst" performed by Robert Glasper

SAVAGE RADIO EPISODE #80: "HAPPY 69TH BIRTHDAY TODD RUNDGREN"-JUNE 21, 2017
1. "Hideaway" performed by Todd Rundgren
2. "Something To Fall Back On" performed by Todd Rundgren
3. "Piece By Piece" performed by The Tubes
4. "Shave Your Legs" performed by The Pursuit Of Happiness
5. "Rising Sign" performed by Utopia
6. "You Cried Wolf" performed by Todd Rundgren
7. "Frederick" performed by The Patti Smith Group
8. "You're Much Too Soon" performed by Daryl Hall & John Oates
9. "Take It Home" performed by Utopia
10."Hang On Paul" performed by Nazz
11."Boogies (Hamburger Hell) performed by Todd Rundgren
12."Love Is The Answer" performed by Utopia

SAVAGE RADIO EPISODE #81: "BLACK MUSIC MONTH CELEBRATION PART 2"-JUNE 28, 2017
1. "Supersoulfighter" performed by Lenny Kravitz
2. "All Day Sucker" performed by Stevie Wonder
3. Anxiety/Taurian Matador" performed by Billy Cobham
4. "You And Your Folks, Me And My Folks" performed by Funkadelic
5. "Penelope Please" performed by Terence Trent D'Arby
6. "Outstanding" performed by The Gap Band
7. "Falling In Love Again" performed by Eagle Eye Cherry
8. "The Slouch" performed by Vernon Reid & Masque
9. "Diamond In The Rough" performed by Ernie Isley
10."Pray My Soul" performed by Axiom Funk (featuring Bernie Worrell and Eddie Hazel)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

NOW PLAYING IN THE SAVAGE JUKEBOX JUNE 2017

"ROCK N' ROLL CONSCIOUSNESS"
THURSTON MOORE
Released April 28, 2017
NEW 2017 MUSIC: WSUM's Freak Scene Radio brought me here and incidentally, this album was my final purchase at the great Mad City Music Exchange before they closed up shop at the location they occupied for 30 years and just prior to their move to a new location (long may you run).

Anyhow, and for no reason in particular, I have never really listened to Sonic Youth. Certainly, I have heard some songs over the years but believe me, I could never even begin to tell you what they even were let alone what they sounded like. That being said, there was some thing that did indeed compel me to purchase "Rock N' Roll Consciousness," the latest solo offering from Thurston Moore and it was a wise purchase indeed. For me, these five extended songs, the shortest of which ("Cusp") runs a hair over six minutes while the longest ("Exalted") is just shy of 12 minutes, feels like one, vaguely prog, subtly post-rock, undeniably psychedelic soundscape where emotions of melancholia, doom, rage, and oddly enough, a certain tranquility weave its meditative spell..albeit a decidedly agitated meditative spell.

Through all of the sounds and hippie styled lyrics as contributed by poet Radio Radieux, the guitar is unquestionably the star of the album as elegant passages crash into bombastic power chords, which then float into feedback drenched anarchy and often, brilliantly so, into mesmerizing interlocked sequences that for me, recalled the very best of Television's now iconic "Marquee Moon" (released February 8, 1977). 

Thurston Moore's "Rock N' Roll Consciousness," for me, is that perfect "grey day" album--one for solitary moments spent under cloudy skies.
"PRISONER B-SIDES: END OF THE WORLD"
RYAN ADAMS
Released April 28, 2017
NEW 2017 MUSIC: This is a quickie...but first things first...Ryan Adams, who reportedly recorded a whopping 80 songs for his achingly beautiful album "Prisoner" (released February 17, 2017) definitely picked the very best of the best to make up that album. 

As for this B-sides collection from the same sessions and collected upon the "End Of The World" vinyl set and later released digitally, these 17 songs make up for a rawer, rougher double album length experience that only extends and deepens the "Prisoner" album with its post-divorce themes of heartbreak, isolation, confusion, restlessness, uncertainly and the attempts of trying to figure out how to move forwards when "'til death do us part" has proven itself not to be. With titles like "Are You Home?," "It Will Never Be The Same," "Broken Things," "Let It Burn," "Please Help Me," "Too Tired To Cry," and "The Empty Bed," you know that upon listening to these songs, you are in for a dark, sad ride.

I am still working through the collection but even so, what remains is my mystification at just how oh how does Adams continue to unearth new ways, lyrics, melodies and performances to convey stories and emotions of love and loss, essentially the cornerstone of his entire recording career.  Regardless of the methods behind his specialized brand of musical magic, these songs are more than worth your attention if you are just itching for something even broader, something that sounds like the perfect extension of one of his finest works (aside from "Prisoner"), "Love Is Hell" (released May 4, 2004)
"BUCKINGHAM McVIE"
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM & CHRISTINE McVIE
Released June 9, 2017
NEW 2017 MUSIC:  Essentially a Fleetwood Mac album in all but name and without the presence of Stevie Nicks (whom, as far as I am concerned, is acting a bit mercenary lately due to her lack of studio participation in favor of solely participating in more money grabbing tours), "Buckingham McVie," itself a play upon the pre-Fleetwood Mac endeavor (and still unavailable on CD or digital formats) "Buckingham Nicks" (released September 5, 1973), is a glistening, rock solid pop album that shows without any doubts that these musical veterans still have more than enough musical magic to create and deliver.

These 10 new songs are a veritable showcase for Lindsey Buckingham (who seems to be on a prolifically creative high over these last 15 years or so) and Christine McVie to not only remind listeners why we fell in love with the in the first place but to introduce any curious new listeners a level of songcraft, production and musicianship that is of such rare quality in the 21st century but was the norm 40 years ago. Frankly, Buckingham and McVie get to show everyone just how it is done while still unearthing some surprises.

Where tracks like "Feel About You," "Red Sun," "Lay Down For Free," "Sleeping Around The Corner" and the stunning, warm wind rush of "In My World" could all sound like updates from Mac's "Mirage" (released June 18, 1982)--and in the very best way--I was indeed surprised by the funk groove of "Too Far Gone" and was undeniably moved by the selections of  the flat-out beautiful "On With The Show," "Love Is Here To Stay," and "Game To Pretend," songs that conveyed a level of wistfulness that only arrives with age and having much life lived.

It is truly a joy to hear Christine McVie, a songwriter who I have always felt gets a bit lost in Stevie Nicks' powerful presence and looming shadow. Her warmth, skills, and supreme voice have lost absolutely nothing during her time away and er songwriting remains as bulletproof as ever. Hearing her paired with Lindsey Buckingham again allows him to work with his musical paintbrush with a completely different sense of inspiration and the effect is sparkling. And man, by the time he unleashes his guitar solo during the album finale "Carnival Begin," it feels as fi he has realized another potential live in concert six string fireworks display.

Essentially 30 years ago, I vividly remember hearing some B-side selections from Fleetwood Mac's "Tango In The Night" (released April 13, 1987) including one oddball cut entitled "Ricky," a joint composition by McVie and Buckingham on which McVie seemed to be singing in Buckingham's agitated style. It was a song so quirky, so unexpected and yet, it worked perfectly.

Now 30 years later, it feels as if Christine McVie (now fully returned to Fleetwood Mac after a 16 year absence) and Lindsey Buckingham have blissfully picked up from where they left off and the time apart has not dulled their skills whatsoever. And with bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, one of rock and roll's finest rhythm sections ever, playing on the album throughout, we have an album of rock royalty performing with vibrancy and vitality and without any of the angst of the past.

In fact, I almost wonder with Stevie Nicks' absence, she has contributed to the album as that aforementioned angst and friction is out of the way (not that she was ever the sole cause--just let me make that clear). It is through her absence, we can see and hear the joy and love between these bandmates. We can hear how this specialized chain musically stays together.
,
"TI AMO"
PHOENIX
Released June 9, 2017
NEW 2017 MUSIC: I have to admit, that even though I like the album, Phoenix's previous release "Bankrupt!" (released April 22, 2013) is not an album that I have returned to very much at all because it just felt too much like a step-by-step sequel to their breakthrough "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" (released May 25, 2009)--the sound of a band wanting to creatively  move forwards but not really knowing quite how to do and ultimately sounding just as before. It was fine but you just knew they could do a bit  better. Now...they have.

"Ti Amo," the sixth album from Phoenix, is a top to bottom winner where every single track is a sunshine beachball splashdown spectacular that should be voluminously blasting from car and house party windows all summer long. If you want a pop album and not  hate yourself for loving it to pieces, Phoenix have cracked the code as they fully understand songwriting, performance, and production to the degree that they have crafted a European summertime fantasy album where the warmth radiates from the speakers and your bodies are in constant motion due to the infectious grooves that merge the dance floor from the 1970's and the 21st century blissfully and effortlessly,
"1969"
ANDRE CYMONE
Released April 7, 2017
NEW 2017 MUSIC: One of the best albums of 2017 without question.

Andre Cymone, veteran singer/songwriter/musician, pioneer of the Minneapolis scene and sound of the late 1970's/early 1980's and close friend, confidant and former pre Revolution bandmate of Prince himself, has followed up his stirring 4 song "Black Man In America" EP (released September 30, 2016) with the propulsive, swaggering, downright electrifying "1969," a collection of raw, ragged rock and soul inspired by the music of Cymone's youth.

True to the album's title, Andre Cymone and his crack band evoke the sonic styles of Sly and the Family Stone, The Rolling Stones and James Brown plus the pastoral psychedelia and fearless folk of the era, what is most notable about the album is how Cymone superbly mirrors the socio/political landscape of the past with the present to showcase brilliantly how not terribly much has changed over nearly 50 years, and especially in a post President Obama world, which has seemingly swung backwards in time to a point before 1969.

With tracks like the slammin' strut of "Money," the urgently acoustic "Black Lives Matter," the street chants of "Black Man In America," the meditative poignancy of the album's title track and even more, Andre Cymone's "1969" is a fully transportive experience fueled by  his undeniable energy, focus, commitment as well as his muscular voice and instrumental prowess and powers.
NOT DEAD YET
PHIL COLLINS
384 pages 
Published by Crown Archetype
Released October 25, 2016

Phil Collins has long existed as one of my most passionate musical heroes.

While I prefer his music as a member of Genesis rather than his solo material, I have long felt a certain kinship with the legendary drummer as I play drums (admittedly nowhere near as brilliantly as he) and of course, we share the same last name (no relation...ha ha). As I look over my musical loves and education throughout my life, I remain so graciously thankful that I was coming of age at a time wen spectacular rock drummers armed with exquisite skill as well as the personality to make each kit sound completely unique to themselves were so present.

For me, having the likes of Neil Peart, Stewart Copeland and Collins all so visible, creative, and especially innovative to the point where they all completely altered the perception of what a drummer could possibly be was seismic to me. Phil Collins was just towering to me as I was growing up and I marveled at how a drummer could also be a songwriter, singer, frontman, producer, and even an actor! While many grew tired and even irritated with his increased ubiquity during the latter half of the 1980's and early 1990's, I didn't care a whit because I simply continued to cheer him onwards as his talent was unquestionable.

While he has always been an artist (especially Genesis) that I have found myself having to defend over and again, the level of cruelty hurled towards him over the years is massively unnecessary because, honestly--look at all of the music released and tell me if the music of Phil Collins is really that sub-par. It isn't. You know it. And besides he is one of the finest musicians to ever hold two sticks behind a drum kit and his drum sound is iconic!!!

So, of course, it was imperative that I pick up a copy of Collins' memoir Not Dead Yet, and I believe that for Collins fans as well as for those who just love good books, this autobiography makes for compulsively entertaining, candid reading.

Chronicling the entirety of his life, Phil Collins' Not Dead Yet is surprisingly breezy and disarming with its tone that strikes a fine balance between the literary and the conversational. Collins' written voice comes off much like his music...warm, earnest, confessional, romantic, sometimes sentimental, sometimes cheeky, and at its very best, brutally honest and unflinching towards the mistakes made in his life, therefore leading to quite powerful soul searching regarding the imbalance between the grand success of his working life and the emotional drama with in his tumultuous family life, one that has given him three wives and five children between them.  Additionally, I was deeply moved by the later sections of the book in which he details the harrowing details of his late in life alcoholism which nearly killed him plus his declining physical health due to 50 years of playing and bashing away upon the drums. Every high and low of his life is presented cleanly and without any stitch of self-conscious maudlin. It is as if Collins is sitting in the room with you, personally sharing the story of his wondrously charmed life.

No, the book is not as exquisitely, meticulously written as Elvis Costello's Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink (2015) and certainly, as a Genesis fan, I would have loved to have read more complete stories about the makings of certain albums and songs. But, even so, what we have is akin to Pete Townshend's wonderful memoir Who I Am (2012), a memoir from a musical legend who brings himself so fully down to Earth with wit, charm and an accessibility that showcases an enormous commonality and humanity. 

A MASTERPIECE REVISITED: "PURPLE RAIN: DELUXE EDITION" PRINCE AND THE REVOLUTION

"PURPLE RAIN" (DELUXE EDITION)
PRINCE AND THE REVOLUTION

Produced, Arranged, Composed and Performed by Prince and The Revolution
Released June 23, 2017

"Let the rain come down..."

Indeed!

Dear readers and listeners, the vault has been opened!!! Or at least, a little bit. Do not get me wrong, for I am not complaining in the least because for what we have all now received is a cause for rejoice and an especially and blissfully electrifying way to commemorate the artist forever known as Prince.

For an artist of Prince's legend, stature and unbelievably high artistic quality, it has long disturbed me with how poorly his catalog has been treated over the years. In this age of remastering, Prince's discography, most notably everything he recorded for Warner Brothers from the beginning of his career to perhaps the early 1990's has been in such serious need of an upgrade that the negligence has been nothing less than shameful as far as I am concerned. But now, corrections have been made and gloriously so with brand, spankin' new deluxe, fully remastered edition of the iconic "Purple Rain," a full 33 years after its original release. Believe me, for what we have been given, this was more than worth the wait

First things first, the remastered version of the original album, personally overseen by Prince himself before his passing, sounds absolutely pristine and speaker shaking, just as it did when I placed that vinyl onto my turntable back in the summer of 1984. In fact, and just as with some of the very best remastered albums that I have had the pleasure to hear, most notably The Beatles or Led Zeppelin's full catalog, Prince and the Revolution's "Purple Rain" fully represents what it means to have music that is very much of the time in which it was created but somehow it transcends time and space itself becoming purely and beautifully timeless. The remaster makes the music sound as if it was all recorded just yesterday, if not tomorrow!

The bass drum beats give you that power kick to the chest while the guitars scorch the speakers and the keyboards, vocals and all other musical and sonic dressings superbly surround and envelop, making for an experience that is fully immersive, especially now as our knowledge of these nine iconic songs have merged and congealed with our memories, blending and blurring any sense of nostalgia and this moment in time circa 2017 seamlessly. Prince often said later in his life that time was an illusion. Listening to "Purple Rain" now, all cleaned up and sparkling fresh, I am seriously prone to believe him as the emotions I feel while listening, first when I was 15 and now at 48, are remarkably the same and enhanced.

But what of the extra goodies, bells and whistles, you ask? Well...in addition to the newly remastered album, there is a disc which contains all of the singes released during the "Purple Rain" period and with those singles, there are also the famed B-sides, the extended versions of which have never been released on CD or digital formats before now and their arrivals are most welcome. Yes, that disc certainly carries a hefty level of repetition as we receive the single edits as well as the extended versions--I was thrilled to find the 7 minute movie version of "Let's Go Crazy" included in the package and to that end, the thrilling 10 minute version of "I Would Die 4 U," on which the live sounding track is augmented by Shelia E.'s swift percussion and saxophonist Eddie M.'s jubilant soloing, is a joyful addition, as we can hear the crafting a song which showcases Prince's past, present and future all in one as you can hear how the music evolved from all that came before and signals what was yet to arrive. Time is an illusion!!!!

And then, yes, the B-sides, from "17 Days" to the short and extended versions of "Erotic City" and "Another Lonely Christmas" are included as well. For me, the biggest surprise of all was to find that two selections entitled "God" are collected in this edition as well. First, the ethereal, and even bizarre vocal version and secondly, stunningly, the internationally only released, nearly 8 minute instrumental version subtitled "Love Theme From Purple Rain."  This track is the instrumental music utilized as film score for the still heart racing bedroom love scene and it is a veritable showcase for Prince's peerless instrumental skills from his impressive, innovative drumming, to his sweeping keyboard skills and dazzling Carlos Santana influenced guitar work.

But, without question, the jewel in the crown of this reissue, which I have to tell you also includes a DVD of the long out of print "Live at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY March 30, 1985," concert video, are 11 songs from the vault!!!!! Now, quite a number of selections will be of most familiarity to people (like myself) who have heard bootlegs over these past 30 plus years and are thrilled to have official, unblemished versions. For those who have not heard even a note of anything not officially released, get ready! For all of us, it is a spectacularly fascinating ride through what was discarded, slept on, and even after all of these years, still unknown yet everything informs the nine songs which make up the official album, the determination and strict attention to what would make the album and film work at its absolute tip-top peak.

So, here they are...

1. "The Dance Electric"-Originally given to friend and former bandmate Andre Cymone for this third solo release "A.C." (released 1985), we now have the official release of Prince's original version, running over eleven minutes in length and it is as propulsive as a ferociously speedy yet rock steady locomotive as the song echoes the apocalyptic dance, doom and reverence of making love as the bombs fall and getting your house in order when Kingdom comes.

2. "Love And Sex"-Continuing the theme from "The Dance Electric," this uproarious rave up imagines life in the hereafter and questions will there be sex and dance in the afterlife to go along with the everlasting love.

3. "Computer Blue (Hallway Speech version)"-This track is a MONSTER!!! First of all, I am so thrilled that it is included in this set as I remember hearing it as a tape hiss filled bootleg many years ago and it really speaks to Prince's genius as to know precisely what to use and what to discard to make the song work at its very best on the original album as well as within the context of the film.

While essentially the same song as hear don the original album, this version is over 12 minutes long, containing guitar feedback fury, extra lyrics, a point of pause during which Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman offer their taunting lament of Prince's "poor lonely computer" who still refuses to understand the differences between love and lust and even then, Prince offers a hallucinatory spoken word section amidst the roar of The Revolution.

This version of "Computer Blue" certainly feels like the broader sequel to tracks like "Automatic" and "Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)" from "1999" (released October 27, 1982) and even foreshadows and spiritual crisis inherent in "Temptation" from "Around The World In A Day" (released April 22, 1985). Again, referencing the past while simultaneously pointing to the future while making a raucous, electrifying now like this track.

4. "Electric Intercourse"-The prolific nature of Prince as a writer/producer/performer is now the stuff of legend yet regarding "Purple Rain" and especially this track, Revolution bassist BrownMark has expressed in recent interviews that the original album and film forced Prince to slow down more than he was used to, as the process of filmmaking allowed him to probe deeper, revisit tracks, introduce and discard all the while fashioning the masterpiece we all know and love.

In the case of "Electric Intercourse," which was written for the film, we have a lonely, lusty bedroom synthetic ballad much like what we heard throughout "1999." Prince later was able to re-think and return to the drawing board and good that he did because he ultimately fashioned a ballad for the ages with its replacement, "The Beautiful Ones," a song that plunges to greater romantic, emotional depths. As it is, this track is a stunner

5. "Our Destiny/Roadhouse Garden"- Revolution keyboardist Lisa Coleman has also expressed in interviews that there are potentially four or five complete albums made with The Revolution housed inside Prince's vault. I am assuming this was one of those potential tracks as Prince, at one point during the 1990's, in a rare period of publicly looking backwards, kicked around the idea of finishing a Revolution album entitled "Roadhouse Garden."

As it stands, this 6 minute plus, two part suite (the first string laden half is sung by Lisa) signals the more complex Revolution music to come as the opening string section was later used and an interlude/introduction to "The Ladder" from "Around The World In A Day," an album Wendy Melvoin explained had been fully completed before the "Purple Rain" tour began!

6. "Possessed"-I've heard a couple of bootlegged versions of this song over the years, a notable one being a tad slower, funkier, so to speak. This faster paced, nearly 8 minute, fresh out of the vault release has been heard by all of us before and it is indeed within the "Purple Rain" film in the background of a scene where Morris Day is attempting to woo Apollonia Kotero with fabricated tales of having personal Italian cooks, and being the proud owner of a "brass water-baaaay-ed."

7. "Wonderful Ass"-One of my favorite bootleg songs EVER!!!! Now, I have no idea if this was ever conceived to work within the film or the album but it is notable for the arrival of Wendy Melvoin as I believe this was one of her first studio appearances with Prince, if not the first. The hip swaying bass line and rhythm guitars, the infectious choruses, the brilliance of those drums and the overall dance floor wooziness and then, check it:

"Educate
Tolerate
Negotiate
Communicate
Litigate
Graduate
Appreciate
Separate
Interrogate
Violate 
Fluctuate
Perpetrate
Masturbate
Stimulate, Stimulate, Stimulate..."

Take that, INXS!!! The Revolution will be heard!!!

8. "Velvet Kitty Cat"-I have never heard of this one whatsoever and this bare bones track, with primitive drum machine and some bluesy guitar, sounds like a page from Prince alter ego The Kid's musical diary. As does...

9. "Katrina's Paper Dolls"-Another track I have never heard of and I just learned that it may have been named after Denise Matthews a.k.a. Vanity (R.I.P.) as "Katrina" was her middle name. Again, this slice of bedroom pop seems to signal the dreamy, character sketches to come like "Starfish And Coffee" or "The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker."

10. "We Can Fuck"-Eventually released as a collaborative effort with George Clinton and renamed "We Can Funk" on "Graffiti Bridge" (released August 21, 1990), this 10 minute plus version again showcases the past, then present and the future as it growls and flows into a post-coital sequence that echoes "Do Me, Baby" and also presents Prince as relentless Lothario yet with a tremendous sensitivity and vulnerability that makes the song move from masturbatory fantasy towards sexual reality.

What is interesting tome is that the vocal and drums tracks from this version are precisely the same as heard upon the final version. Additionally, I have heard a full Revolution version through bootlegs, complete with horns and just rides that growling groove tremendously. I am curious as to how this song necessarily fits within the odyssey of The Kid especially since he revived it for "Graffiti Bridge," the quasi-sequel to "Purple Rain."

11. "Father's Song"-Ah!!!! The music of Prince's Father, Mr. John L. Nelson as heard within the film and as an interlude in "Computer Blue." This haunting, deceptively peaceful yet decidedly turbulent instrumental is a splendid look at Prince's astounding skills as a pianist and keyboardist as he weaves acoustic/synthetic soundscapes that made me wonder if by any chance had he been listening to Vangelis at all. Really! This track sounds like lost music from "Blade Runner" (1982)!

And there you have it!

Two years after the reissue was first announced and planned for the 30th anniversary of "Purple Rain," and now sadly, fourteen months after the passing of its creator (which does make me feel that the suits at WB were just waiting for this period--dark mercenary thoughts but even so...), we now have this splendidly realized document that makes us all see one of Prince's masterpieces anew and even in a more complete way.

Here's hoping that this release will serve as a template for future reissues of a catalog desperate in need of a reverential upgrade.