1001 Albums: Safe As Milk

#81

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Artist: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band

Album: Safe As Milk

Year: 1967

Length: 33:40

Genre: Blues Rock / Acid Rock / Garage Rock

“Singin through you to me
Thunderbolts caught easily
Shouts the truth peacefully
Electricity”

I know what everyone is thinking and believe me I know you want to know. I told myself I wouldn’t but I know at this moment you’re all aching to find out and you won’t be satisfied until I acknowledge it. That’s fine, but I can’t always do this for you guys but I will make an exception this one time. I know you’re all dying to know… how did I do in karaoke on Friday? I realise I mentioned it in my last post and it left you guys aching for me to talk about it and I kind of felt it was either irrelevant or just didn’t really fit with this particular blog post. But looking back on all my posts I consistently talked about life and things that had absolutely nothing to do with the album so I figured what the hell, why not.

I absolutely slayed in karaoke. I killed it. I was nervous because the last time I went I butchered it but this time around I just tore it apart. I started the night with “Ballroom Blitz”, nothing great, just a ton of fun. Second song, I killed. sang ABC’s “Poison Arrow” and just owned it as my own. It was sad that nobody really knew the song, but I did well enough that it did not matter. Unfortunately with my next tune I didn’t do as well. Sang Elvis Costello’s “Radio Radio”. Fantastic tune but unfortunately I followed to assholes who chose to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” which honestly there’s an unwritten rule that unless the whole bar is doing it together you do not pick that fucking song. Following that with a song that barely anyone knew wasn’t great and I did ok… but I got to sing it which was all I wanted. About an hour later me, Luis and Aziz broke out into “TubThumping” where I samg all the female vocals and immediately got to sing my final song, Abba’s “Does Your Mother Know”, another I’ve been wanting to belt out for a long time and never did.

There, happy? That was my night.

what?

What more do you want?

Oh…

Oh right…. Safe As Milk. I forgot… I actually listened to an album by Captain Beefheart.

beefheart.jpg

An early photo of him when he was just a cabin boy.

Ok, I promise I’ll stop making these band name puns… maybe…

Despite what it sounds like I actually really love this album. My biggest problem (which is unrelated to the album itself) is that I’ve just been so tired these past few days that I barely remember much details of this album. I can definitely talk about the general feelings I had for it, but specifics are going to be really difficult at this moment. I’m adding this album to the revisit list and will eventually give it a relisten and a second blog post because my current feelings and mood just will not give it the justice it deserves.

So what can I say about it? It’s definitely it’s own thing. There’s no denying Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band managed to create something that is uniquely their own. Heavily influenced by Blues Rock, they managed to take on the genre and tackle it in a completely unconventional and unique way to the point that their original label dropped them for being too unconventional (Due to the song “Electricity” in particular). He also seems to take a page from the book of Zappa (which makes sense since he was a part of Zappa’s band) incorporating weird time signatures, strange noises, sound clips (such as a radio host introducing one of the songs), unusual and surreal lyrics and funny singing voices. If you love Zappa, Beefheart should definitely be one to check out.

I actually heard some people express they find Beefheart harder to get into than Zappa, Beefheart surprisingly somehow being more alienating. I don’t know if I agree with that. Maybe Beefheart’s later work gets a little more difficult to the ears, but this one feels way more accessible than Zappa’s work, incorporating enough weirdness to stick out but still remaining traditional enough to keep the average listener hooked. Maybe it’s just because I like the unconventional but this was definitely one of the top listening experiences I had on this list so far, so we’ll see once Trout Mask Replica hits us if I still feel the same way.

So there you have it, don’t really have much to say at the moment which is a real shame because I really loved this album but my mind has been so bogged down and cloudy this past week for so many reasons that it was really difficult to form any sort of coherent analysis or critique, especially for an album of this caliber.

So until I revisit it, check it out for yourself and enjoy the kookiness that is Captain Beefheart.

Song of Choice: Dropout Boogie

-Bosco

 

 

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1001 Albums: The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators

#72

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Artist: The 13th Floor Elevators

Album: The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators

Year: 1966

Length: 34:31

Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Garage Rock

“Oh yeah!
Ahh!
You’re gonna wake up one morning as the sun greets the dawn.
You’re gonna wake up one morning as the sun greets the dawn.
You’re gonna look around in your mind, girl, you’re gonna find that
I’m gone.”

Woo-hee, what a week I’m experiencing. Nothing really out of the ordinary. I’ve hit the end of my semester at school so all my assignments are due and I have about five exams to study for. On top of all that, I was at a shoot all weekend and am trying to make a demo reel (2 actually) for another class. It’s nothing crazy, but oh boy is is overwhelming when all piled on at the same time. Especially the demo reel. I don’t know why but I can’t seem to wrap my head around it, like my brain goes into overload when thinking of how to go about making one. I need one, it’s important. Every job I apply for asks me to submit one, so it’s absolutely necessary that I have one. But man… am I having difficulty doing it. How do you show off your best work in 60 seconds or less? I don’t know… I don’t know!!!!

Either way, I got to lose myself in the crazy psychedelia that is known as the 13th Floor Elevators. A garage band that delved into psychedelic music, they managed to take the best of both worlds and blend the two styles quite seamlessly creating a sound that can only be characterized as their own. I remember hearing their biggest hit “You’re Gonna Miss Me” in a psychedelic rock class I took back in University. From the second Roky Erickson blares his voice in that raspy, aggressive way, wailing and screaming with all the angst of a 19 year old, I knew I was in for something special. But it didn’t end there. Backing him up is some dirty, raw sounding guitars, heavy drum beats and some rave-up instrumentals enough to send you on one hell of an acid trip. If that wasn’t enough, accompanying these instrumental is a strangely, odd bubbling and gurgling sound, an instrument not easily recognizable. What could this mystery instrument be?

Obviously it’s the electric jug.

41X1F0KEBWL

wait… what? A Cuisinart?

Ok, so it’s obviously not that type of electric jug, but this seems to be an instrument so obscure I couldn’t even find a picture of it on Google. So please if you do, do share it because that’s something I’d love to see.

In all seriousness though, the band was actually using an electric jug. How they made the jug electric in the first place is beyond my understanding and falls in the realms of when we all make the joke that we’ll join a band and play the electric triangle. Everyone who finds this out is always beyond astonished, but in the best way possible. The fact that they incorporated such a ludicrous instrument just adds to how awesome they really are.

When listening to the album part of me was a little sad that Count Five’s Psychotic Reaction wasn’t included on this list. But, in hindsight, I can see why. Psychotic Reaction is another great example of a garage band that blends psychedelia with it’s style very well and has some amazing rave-ups in their songs. But, they don’t really do anything different from the 13th Floor Elevators and I guess if you had to choose one or the other the 13th Floor Elevators is the obvious choice. But if you like this, check out Psychotic Reaction, you won’t be disappointed.

What makes this album so great is its aggressive nature that overlaps and mixes into mind-bending psychedelia. Just listen to a song like “Roller Coaster”. With the guitars twanging away angrily, the electric jug player bubbling the jug like a fucking madman and the build-up to an insane mind trip into the warped minds of a group of teenagers grasping desperately to hold on to the little they have left of reality. It’s kind of weird for me to say that especially knowing the singer, Roky Erickson, would later be convicted into a mental institution after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Knowing this adds a much darker undertone to the whole album, especially since Roky screams and wails like he’s trying to expel a demon from his very core.

believe it or not, the band was also known for doing live shows and recording their albums while under the influence of LSD, which in a lot of ways makes a lot of sense. Everything from their lyrics to their acid-drenched guitar work, where Stacy Sutherland would revolutionize the use of reverb and echo to create their unique sound. They really wanted to keep the drug-fuelled lifestyle and experience alive and they made sure the listener experienced it with them (which would become a staple of Psychedelic music).

This definitely set a lot of groundwork and would be an important album for Psychedelic Rock, often being credited as the first psychedelic band and have gone on to influence bands such as ZZ Top, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Primal Scream, the Butthole Surfers and REM. Words can’t really properly explain what this album does and it can only really be experienced as a lens into the mind of a drug addled angsty teen with a severe mental disorder. There’s really nothing else quite like it and it manages to really stand out as it’s own thing at the time it came out, leaving it’s mark in Psychedelic history.

Song of Choice: Roller Coaster

-Bosco

Note: Schizophrenia is an incredibly debilitating mental disorder that can deeply affect those who have it and their loved ones. It should never be romanticised or taken lightly. (Having personally known people affected by it).

Edit: Found out the secret to the Jug. Seems they just held a microphone up to the jug… a little anti-climactic.

 

1001 Albums: Midnight Ride

#68

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Artist: Paul Revere and the Raiders

Album: Midnight Ride

Year: 1966

Length: 29:08

Genre: Pop Rock/Garage Rock

“Girl, you thought you found the answer
On that magic carpet ride last night
But when you wake up in the mornin’
The world still gets you uptight
Well, there’s nothin’ that you ain’t tried
To fill the emptiness inside
When you come back down, girl
Still ain’t feelin’ right”

Oh boy, it’s a little dusty here. For a second I almost forgot that I even had a blog sitting out there on the internet. I waited a little too long to do this one that I came out of the routine of listening to the albums and posting regularly. It happens I guess, you get into a good routine and everything is running smoothly an then suddenly something happens and stops the routine. You figure, the next day, the next day, another day. It becomes easier to just wait another day then do it now. You think, it’ll happen, I’ll do it, but find yourself a week or two later realising you haven’t. Whoops. Honestly, my perception of time has been warped a bit these days and although I know exactly what day we are (Monday, woohoo) I have no idea how much time has passed. It’s like I can’t feel the passage of time and it’s all going by in a blur and a haze, three hours could feel like ten and one minute could go by in a day and I won’t even notice. Should I be concerned? Nah…

A lot has happened since my last post. I went down to Montreal to watch Sandra perform in a modernized adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, set in a post-apocalyptic world. She played Juliet and fucking killed it. Knocked it out of the metaphorical park and nailed the performance. I was both blown away and impressed (are they the same thing?) by it and it made me fall for her even more. Sappy, I know, shut up.

I also moved in to my newest apartment this week. Officially on my own and doing my own thing and I gotta say it’s been amazing… ly terrifying. Amazing nonetheless, but scary as all shit, especially since I still don’t have a job. Money is going but none is coming back, which anyone can say isn’t the greatest feeling. I know I’m not the only one who has gone through that and and won’t be the last, it’s part of being an adult and life, it happens to all of us, but it’s currently what’s going on now and it’s a doozy of an anxiety blanket on my shoulders. But I apply as much as I can everyday so something is bound to come up soon… right? RIGHT?

At least I don’t have to worry about food for awhile. My mom in all her Italian Motherhood brought up three months worth of food for me. As much as I feel I should be doing these things on my own, I sometimes am really happy that I have an Italian Mother. And if you’re wondering, yes all the stereotypes about Italian Mothers are very true, so that means no matter what I will always be well fed.

Part of the reason it took me so long to listen to this album was the fact that the entire album wasn’t on Spotify. Yeah it was one of those weird ones where only a few of the songs are missing… for some reason. The entire album is there except for one song. One damn song. WHY?! I’ve come to understand that it’s not up to Spotify to decide what can be played or not and it actually comes down to the artist and labels themselves. But why would they put the entire album available for play by the public and make one song off it unavailable? Is it to annoy people? Because I just feel annoyed by this. In order to listen to it I had to have it readily available on Youtube (which thankfully that one song was). But since I do most of my listening outside of the house and I was out of data on my phone for the month… it made the whole situation a little complicated. And it’s a shame to because the song that was missing, All I Really Need Is You, was a solid tune for the album and blended their rock heavy, proto-punk attitude songs with their more pop-sounding ones. If you ever do decide to listen to this album on Spotify, get the missing song ready on a different tab, it’ll be worth it.

So, enough was enough, I had woken up early this morning and figured I have more than enough time to listen to it and so I did. I’m happy I finally did because I really enjoyed this album. I had been eagerly awaiting this one because I had already known and loved their song Kicks,¬†which I’ll get into after, and wanted to hear more from them. I was not disappointed. What we get is a very enjoyable rock album, with elements of garage and proto-punk thrown in for extra flavour. There’s a nice level of aggressiveness barely breaking the surface of the music, which adds a lot to the subtext of what you’re listening to and never crosses the threshold of being in your face or obnoxious. Even with that it still manages to keep it upbeat and happy, even with the anger festering and boiling underneath it all. At times this is used perfectly as a juxtaposition with the lyrics. Ballad of a Useless Man, I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone and There She Goes¬†by all means should be depressing songs but Paul Revere and the Raiders manage to turn them into darkly upbeat tunes. Sure the lyrical content talks about themes such as bad romance, being played and dumped, feelings of worthlessness and being used, but thanks to the delivery of the vocals and the rockin’ instrumentals, we instead get the bitter musings of someone who is both angry at their shitty situations and yet mildly apathetic to the point that you question how upset they really are. It’s honestly beautiful.

Kicks still remains a stand-out song to me. Not for it’s musicianship but for it’s lyrical content. I remembering studying this song years back in University when I had a class on the history of Psychedelic Music. At the time it was weird to hear a song that was incredibly anti-drug use. With all the bands and musicians around them dropping acid, doing drugs and going on trips, it was really controversial of them to release a song that was very against what all their peers were doing. Sort of the beginning of the counter-counter culture, the people who were counter culture but were also against what the revolutionaries were doing. (Funny I say this because SPOILER ALERT Frank Zappa is up next who was the king of the counter-counter culture type). It’s such a clever questioning of the whole drug culture that was springing up. Do you really find your answers on your magic carpet ride? Do you really come out of it feeling different and understanding everything? From their observations, no, most of their peers would come out of their trips still feeling the same bitter way they did before and seemed to come up with the whole “It opens your mind” mantra as an excuse to continue to get their kicks that aren’t helping in any way to begin with.

Drug culture always baffled me. I never understood someone’s want or need to do drugs. I guess, to an extent, I can understand the idea of trying everything at least once, but when it comes to something that fucks up your mind… I don’t know if it’s really worth it. For some maybe, they love the experience and the trip, so much that they will go back for more if the first one was exceptionally amazing. For me, it’s a solid no every time. I’ll be honest, I’ve tried weed a few times in my life, the experience was so mundane and boring that all I could think was “This is what all those stoners are going on about? Jesus, no wonder most of them aren’t really exciting people”. (I have met exciting people who smoke a lot, but their exceptions to the rule from my experience). I ran into on old classmate from high school once, he was a real pothead back in the day. It was a strange experience altogether. He was the same guy but… slightly different. His speech patterns had slowed down immensely and he looked like he was walking around as if in a cloud. He wasn’t high at that moment (Trust me I knew him high) and part of felt a little sad. I can’t blame the drugs because I don’t know if that’s why his brain seemingly slowed down incredibly since I last knew him, but it’s not crazy to think that was the cause, especially since he was smoking heavily during his teen years, when you’re brain is still in development.

As you can tell I am very anti-drug, but I will never be preachy about it, I will just have my opinion on it all. If someone is with me and wants to indulge in some drugs, by all means they can do whatever they want, it’s their choice. As long as they respect the fact I don’t want to (and believe me it’ll take way more than peer pressure to get me doing it) then we’re all good. Nobody has convinced me that drugs are worth doing ever and every experience I’ve had with people who do drugs has always turned me off completely.

I once went to a house party that I thought was going to be a classic house party but ended up being a pill party. Everyone around me was crushing pills, snorting powder, ingesting things from Ecstasy to Speed. It was a nightmare fuelled night as I stumbled from room to room (completely sober, I was afraid to drink that night because who knows what could happen while inebriated) and just witnessed people on the floor, eyes barely open, smiling stupidly at nothing and giggling with their peers, it cemented my ideals of never doing drugs ever. Someone my family knew had developed schizophrenia thanks to smoking too much weed (brief explanation, drugs don’t create mental illness but can trigger the mental illness and speed up the process in people who already have it or are prone to developing it) and as someone who in his early adulthood found out he had OCD, Social Anxiety and Depression, it just made the idea of drug use even more terrifying. Did I really want to make any of these things worse than they already were? No, not at all. That’s a risk I am never going to take no matter who tells me how good the trip will be.

So, I went on a bit of a tangent there, didn’t even expect myself to do that. That’s the beauty of free-writing though, you never know where it’s going to take you. Overall, the album was a very enjoyable rocker that anyone can really enjoy. Even though there are some filler songs that the album could have done without, Little Girl in the 4th Row and Melody for an Unknown Girl come to mind not because they’re bad but stylistically they stick out and feel out of place on this album, it’s still a solid piece of work.

Song of Choice: Get It On

-Bosco

1001 Albums: Here Are The Sonics!!!

#49

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Artist: The Sonics

Album: Here are The Sonics!!!

Year: 1965

Length: 28:48

Genre: Garage Rock

 

“Say there’s a girl
Who’s new in town
Well, you better watch out now
Or she’ll put you down
’cause she’s an evil chick
Say she’s the witch”

I’ll be honest, I found myself excited to listen to this album. No particular reason why. Did I know the band beforehand? Nope, not at all. Never heard of The Sonics until now. So what was it that got me so excited? I believe it was the album cover… it’s not a crazy album cover in any way but something about it told me I was going to experience something a little different than what I’ve been listening to up this point. Something a little harder maybe, a little rawer, a little more rock than pop.

I’m happy to say I was right because what I was met with was something dirty and nasty sounding. The Sonics seem to be an early incarnation of what would come to be known as Garage Rock and they show all the elements of it. The recording sounds awful, sounds almost like they actually did record it in their garage and submitted it as is. It sounds more like a compilation of basement tapes than an actual album.

“Should we maybe polish it up, make it sound halfway decent?”

“but… why?”

And why indeed. The nasty sound recording is what gives the album it’s edge and charm. So far we’ve only heard live albums that have had this level of recording and even then they were way better than what we had to listen here. Sometimes when all the band members start playing their instruments all at once, it explodes into the mic like a giant cacophony of noise. It’s beautiful on every level.

There’s not too much that can be said about this album. it does what it needs to do. Musically it’s dirty and raw and lyrically it talks about the teenage lifestyle of girls, cars and chilling out, which would become a staple of the garage rock genre (mixing it together with some good old teen angst). The singer growls and screams into the microphone aggressively, taking out his frustrations, especially in the three original songs found on the album (The Witch, Psycho, Strychnine). The covers for the most part are fairly decent and they’re dusty sounding playing really gives each pop song they covered a new texture to it unheard before. But it’s really in their original songs where the band shines the most. Also, to their credit, the songs never reach the 3-minute mark, yet all feel longer than 3 minutes, which was interesting. This is one of the shortest albums I had to listen to so far and yet still managed to last my entire bus ride home… I can’t explain that phenomenon. This isn’t a bad thing at all as I really enjoyed every song, I was just surprised to see that the songs were much shorter than they actually felt.

Listening to them you get a good sense of where this album is placed historically in music. If you’re looking far enough back, this would be a good place to look as the start of Punk Rock music. It shows all the early characteristics of what would become Punk Rock in the 1970’s. The D.I.Y. attitude of the band members, playing and recording themselves in their own way, the aggressiveness of the playing and singing, the the themes of teenage frustration, the dirty sounding guitars that clang away shamelessly and that “I don’t give a shit” attitude that is exuded throughout. They don’t care how they sound, they just playing the music the way they want to.

The Sonics were one of the first Garage bands to step foot onto the scene and thanks to them they opened the door for future garage bands to come and take their place as well. You think Nirvana would have been able to do what they did if not for The Sonics starting the journey? I don’t think so. Heck, Kurt Cobain has even cited The Sonics as being a big influence on him, which shows and makes sense. The Sonics weren’t the greatest, but they were the first (presumably) and it’s a real shame there isn’t more people talking about them. Really, I mean it. When it comes to Garage Rock, Punk and Grunge, (and any other genre similar to these) I have not once heard anything about this band. I even took a roots of rock n roll class that covered garage rock and didn’t even mention The Sonics. I don’t get it. This album is even cited as being incredibly influential on these genres… so why aren’t they being talked about more??

More people should be talking about them. I don’t think to the point of analyzing their work and writing lengthy essays, but they should be acknowledged and pointed to anytime history of garage and punk rock is mentioned.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Thank you.

Song of Choice: Strychnine

-Bosco