from the archive
Little Richard at the STATE FAIR 10-18-98
I could hardly wait. I was very excited about this show. It is not often you get to
see a legend, a founding father, a giant from the early days of rock'n'roll.
Richard Penniman is the originator, the emancipator, the architect of
rock'n'roll. Just ask him. At 65 Mr. Penniman moves a bit slower and his
stamina is not quite what it once was, but Little Richard can still do it all. He
still has the magic, the charisma, the voice, the chops. Man, can he make a
piano walk and talk. He cannot, however, sustain the hard rocking boogie
woogie for too long at the time. From where I was sitting he appeared to be
tired, not feeling well and at one point said he had considered canceling the
show due to illness. That surely would've been our loss because Richard
commanded that stage for around two hours. He stopped often to talk to the
audience, Richard likes to talk anyway, but these interludes appeared to be
rest periods between the jumpin' jive sessions, during which he gave his all, a
trouper every step of the way. The show must go on and the assembled crowd
were the winners because of it.
He came out to a standing ovation before the first note was played and
climbed atop the piano to drink in the adoring applause. Opening with "Good
Golly Miss Molly", he had the crowd in his palm from the moment he stepped
on stage. Highlights of the show included Larry Williams' "Bonie Maroney",
"Jenny Jenny", and Otis Redding's "Try Me" which Richard nailed. He also
pounded out rousing renditions of "Bama-Lama-Bama-Loo", "Tutti Frutti",
"Keep-a-Knockin'", "Lucille" and a number of songs from other artists, notably
Chuck Berry's "Rock'n'Roll Music", Antoine Domino's "Blueberry Hill", Gene
Vincent's " Be-Bop-a Lula", Bob Segar's "Old Time Rock'n'Roll", Hank Williams'
"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and "Jambalaya", the Beatles' "I Saw Her
Standing There", "Good Night Irene", "I Saw the Light" and even "Every Breath
I Take" by the Police!
When the show finally came to a close with a 900mph version of Long Tall
Sally we had been scolded, preached to, made fun of, joked with, given a
history lesson and taken into his heart. Little Richard Penniman's humor,
sincerity, originality and consummate showmanship are unmatched. If you
were not there, I hate that you missed it. It was great. I smiled for two solid
hours and I'm still smiling now at the very thought of it. "My, my, my, are we
having fun tonight?" Yeah!
Morphine @ THE RITZ April 28 1998
16 Horsepower opened. I knew nothing about this Denver based band but one thing I can tell you now is that they are
intense. More precisely the engine of this group, vocalist, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist David Eugene Edwards is
way intense. Imagine Johnny Rotten with better pipes singing folk music. Imagine a revivalist preacher spewing
brimstone. Imagine all hell breaking loose at a bluegrass party. Edwards creates more energy sitting down that most
singers do erect. He attacks the bandoneon (accordion), slide guitar and banjo with a punk-like abandon. Though
guitarist Jeffrey-Paul Norlander, bassist Pascal Humbert and drummer Jean-Yves Tola are quite good, this is
essentially a one man show with backing musicians. If you like a little bible thumping with your banjo picking these
guys are it.
Every man is evil, yes
And every man a liar
And unashamed with wicked tongues
Sing the black soul choir
And now for something completely different. Morphine. I had seen this Boston band one time on Sessions @ West
54th on PBS-TV and was impressed with their guitarless sound. That IS the first thing you notice about them, it's hard
to miss. Their sound is one of the most unique, creative, dynamic, innovative and likable of any band recording today.
They are Billy Conway on drums, Dana Colley on sax and Mark Sandman on the two-string slide bass/guitar/sonic
reducer. Morphine plays pop, noise, jazz, show tunes all at the same time. They are a genre of one. That is good. They
are not likely to have a hit on the radio but I don't think it matters to them or me, for that matter. Their sonic assault, and
that IS what it is, reminds me of the Velvet Underground without any hint of actual influence. Morphine's approach is
rich with humor, tragedy, indifference, passion, social conscience, goofiness, again, all at once. I have searched for the
proper adjective to describe this band and the best I could come up with is, incredible. Just incredible. We were
treated to everything from a cool coffeehouse daddy-o poetry reading to and all-out whirling noise bath and all things
in-between. Not every adventure was a successful one but that is what makes Morphine so great, they go to the edge,
test the limits, take chances, and more often than not they come up with brilliant sonic landscapes that a lesser band
would never reach.
It is this willingness to stretch the musical form that sets them apart. Most bands playing today would shy away from
the areas they reach for. Most musicians are too uptight to get anywhere near this loose. Morphine is intellectual and
physical, the thinking man's dance band, the brainless skanker's high brow musician. If you have never had the
Morphine experience, this is not a concert, this is an experience, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT miss these guys. It just
might change your life.
Sonic Youth w/ Pelt Solmania at THE RITZ 6-4-98
I missed Solmania. They (guitarists Masahiko Ohno and Katsumi Sugahara) are what they call noisicians in
Japan. They make noise, and you can't dance to it, that's all I know.
Shortly after I arrived Pelt, from Richmond Virginia, took the stage and prompted one audience member to say if
you ever wanted to try heroin, you don't now. These three guys with some type of electronic contraption with
strings and a crank and one girl with a violin or viola lent a whole new meaning to the word atonal. Pelt was
drummerless and just droned away while the singer groaned, yelped and reached the depths of his bowels for
some of the most primitive guttural sounds I have ever heard emanate from a human. The closest comparison
I've been able to come up with is aboriginal didjeridu music. But, this was like an angry electronic version with a
much more pre-civilization vocal attack. They played, I think, two pieces, I'm not sure. They did receive a nice
hand from the crowd. I couldn't help but think what incredible courage it must take to play this music in public.
Sonic Youth is another story. Their music is like the ocean. It comes in waves, discordant, angry waves that
crash onto your mental shore then recede into serene, beautiful lapping tides. Thurston Moore, Lee Ronaldo,
Steve Shelley and Kim Gordon conjure up flat earth sea monsters and then seamlessly transition to the perfect
calm flat water sunrise.
Sonic Youth is one of the numerous bands that owe a debt to White Light White Heat era Velvet Underground but
they have taken a road merely suggested by the Velvets, among others, and made it their path to glory. Their
pounding rhythms and their free form guitar rambling is constantly reinventing what pop music can be. Thurston
Moore brought the idea of alternative tunings to the mainstream. If you look at what this band has
accomplished over the last 17 years you have to be amazed. Who else has raised the level of avant garde
conscienceness to the extent that the Youth have. We have had raw bursts of avant awareness throughout the
years but no single band has gotten more mileage out of stretching the "rock band" boundaries than
Kim and the boys.
The Youth have their moments of sheer spontaneous creation and they have moments that lag a bit. The lags
are the price they pay to reach those soaring crescendos of pure free flowing inventiveness that often fill the hall.
You can't have one extreme without the other. I consider Sonic Youth one of the must sees of the bands currently
touring because they are unlike almost anything else you will encounter and it would be difficult to leave their
show unchanged in some way.
The Velvet Monkeys- Houseparty (God Bless Records NOIR 011CD)
This belatedly released CD opens with Brickhouse. This ain't funny. I guess it is intended to be a humorous takedown
of the famous funkadelic Bootsy thang. I personally was not amused; not that I care about the desecration of a piece of
funk crap. There is a bit of righteous instrumental soaring in the middle of this but it is still funk and not nearly as funny
as the original. I have never really cared for Don's vocal delivery and whatever it is that I don't like about it is exposed
even more than usual on this.
Next up is Harmonica Hellhouse, Stoogish wham bam thank you ma'am jamming that is not gonna race up the charts
but will bend your weenie if you stand too close.
Did you ever consider what it might be like if John Cage, Edgar VarÃ¨se and Karlheinz Stockhausen jammed with the
Stooges and Pink Floyd, all at the once? If they did it might sound like Little Doll. This is a nightmare track that will peel
the thirty-seven coats of hand rubbed candy-apple red lacquer off your '65 GTO, no questions asked. The Velvet
Monkeys take this classic Stooges piece to another planet; we're talking beyond Plu-fucking-to. Little Doll has arrived
just in time to shake the cobwebs out of corners of the universe untouched since the creation. "Little doll, I can't
forget. Smoking on a cigarette... Com'on shake. And shake it does, like some seismographic rattle, some hellhound on
my trail dogbite shake, some quasar quark down to zero, neutrino shake. This is raw power with a little taste of
elemental brimstone magma spewing right down your main street. Uh huh, Com' on.
Seven Angels; is crushing, hold nothing back, balls out pop rocking for the ages. It gets more throw down slashing into
1:41 than most bands get into a whole album or career.
Say what you want about anything. Call this noise punk or trash. Say what you want about anything, just get out of my
Cadillac. We call it Rock. Don't stop. That just about says it all for me.
Rock Party is thrashing, pounding miscreant rock'n'roll with no purpose in mind but to insight a riot, slam yer ass,
blow a hole in the ozone, baby. Yeah!
Velvet Monkey Houseparty ThemE. When the Velvet Monkeys come to your town, everybody gets down. You KNOW it's
The Trance (Band and Process) Just try to absorb Doktor Riviera's discourse without cracking a smile. I would love to
describe this to you but you just gotta xperience it for yourself. Nothing else will do. Try to remember to forget or
remember to remember or forget to remember or remember to forget or something in between. . .
The Velvet Monkeys, one might say, are an aquired taste. This CD could be your last chance to aquire that taste. Do it
right away before this CD becomes extinct. Oh you might be able to run across a copy of Rake at a Rumminger sale but
don't take that chance. The Velvet Monkeys are one of the neglected wonders of the 80's. Don Fleming, Malcolm
Riviera, Jay Spiegel, Scott Jarvis, Rob Kennedy and Tom Kane have assembled a dynamo of space warp, chest
pounding, ear splitting rave-ups here; crank it up loud and turn on those fire things baby!
Flat Duo Jets / Big Joe - Humble Pie
I actually got there late, Big Joe was well into their set when I arrived and ordered coffee. The coffee was really not
bad for a bar. Actually Humble Pie is a restaurant until around 10pm. Big Joe has a country pop tinge and delivers it
with conviction. I had seen them open for the 'Jets in October of '97 at the Brewery (see faze3 issue #7) and the
things I said about them then are still essentially true. They are even tighter now and, I think, rock harder than they did
that first time I saw them, fresh from Arizona. This is a very good band and I was especially impressed with the
guitarist's slide work.
Flat Duo Jets, actually a duo this time, as it should be, go way beyond music. Dex and Crow are maniacally stirring
the fatback and grits in the pan, the grease is on fire and they are fanning the flame. Flat Duo Jets are rock'n'roll as
religious experience, as catharsis, as a cleansing of the soul. Lyrics, chords, beat all become simply ingredients in
the alchemy and Dex is the sorcerer, and Crow is, well, Crow, that's all you need to know - the jungle drums WILL be
there, in force. This is a two headed fire breathing dragon that will not be slayed. The flames leap to white hot, flash
bulb intensity each time Dex delivers the mighty E-chord and Crow beats hell out of the last element of resistance.
Never have I seen two guys get more out of their instruments than Dex and Crow. Never have I seen this level of
intensity from a performer. Flat Duo Jets are a couple of mad boppin' daddies that are not to be missed. In the world
of true, unrestrained rock'n'roll they are a treasure. They are like finding gold. Rave ups that defied description and
reason were Bo Diddley's Pretty Thing, She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain and Frogie Went A-Courtin. See Flat Duo
Jets, and make it soon.
The Carbinesand The Comas - Humble Pie March 27, 1999
When I arrived the restaurant was still making the transition into club. Tables were being hustled into the kitchen and
a few stragglers were emptying the last remaining drops of wine. 10:30 is way too early to come to this club. It was
over an hour before I heard a note of music but there is some interesting art displayed to pass the time. Nice place.
The Comas opened with some drum machine and short wave radio skronk that was really underwhelming. But, as the
drummer actually got behind his kit, things looked a bit more promising. The Comas brought the Beatles to mind on
more than one occasion with their off kilter pop. They achieved some very nice vocal harmonies and invoked the
random hook but seemed like a band that has not yet crystallized it's sound. There's a lot of potential here.
The phrase little miss dynamite was once used to describe Brenda Lee. It is the perfect way to characterize the
diminutive dynamo Tift Merritt.
The Carbines are a countrified honky-tonk band, the real, true, old fashioned kind. Stand up double bass (Christopher
Thurston), fiddle (Margaret White), pedal steel (Greg Readling) and cracker jack drummer (Zeke Hutchins) along with
Tift Merritt on guitar and vocals. These guys are not pop stars in ten gallon hats, just plain old working man's real
American country blues.
Tift Merritt is incredible. This is an excellent band but Merritt is the star. She's got a smile that brightens up the entire
room, her eyes sparkle with their own inner light. Her voice is distilled water clear and one of the strongest around.
Unbelievable. Her blond curls frame her beaming rosy cheeked face to display a sun-like radiance. To only pay five
bucks to see this girl shine like Venus in the evening sky seems like cheatin'.
Tonight Tift is decked out in a white pleated boot top length dress, nothing fancy, just right. When she kicks up her
boot heels she gets this cute little skirt flip thing going that just, somehow, seems faultless. Her mannerisms and
delivery are just all so correct and natural that I can easily imagine her projecting that same free and easy brilliance
in a football stadium to 50,000 adoring fans. If the Nashville cats aren't looking to sign this kitty something is rotten in
Tennessee. She's got the look, she's got the sound, she's got the show.
I'm personally not hot for what passes for country music these days, but there is something going on with this band
that goes beyond genre, goes beyond taste, goes beyond country. This is, simply, a great band fronted by a juke joint
girl with immense talent. Run, don't walk, to the next venue featuring The Carbines. You won't be sorry.
Cholly(a tribute to Charlie Taylor)
I am not now nor have I ever been a real dyed in the wool country music fan but I do appreciate and recognize
talent when I hear it; Hank Williams, George Jones, Buck Owens, Dwight Yokum and like that, you know. I was
invited to hook up with this magazine on the premise that we would provide an outlet etc. for little known
musicians of all genres (Eric, I said ALL genres; metal is just one dish not a whole blessed meal).
OK, so, there was one enormously talented country singer that you will never hear unless you dig up a copy
of the one 45 rpm vinyl record he made back in the late 60s with Kenny and the Klovers (well, you could come
over to my house and listen to a couple of cheaply recorded cassettes made late in his life when emphysema
and cheap whiskey had eroded most of his rich tone control). I Looked Around b/w You Must Be a Dream
Come True were both his own compositions. Hell, I can't even tell you what label it was on but, trust me, it's
obscure. The artist: my father; Charlie Taylor. Charlie was an amazing singer. He could've stood with the
giants, Grand Ole Opry material. I have seen him woo and romance a crowd in a way that few can do. He
mesmerized them with his voice and charmed 'em with his wit. He was just basically a good ole down home
country boy who came to life under the hot lights - the spotlight turned him on and he switched on the
crowd. He exuded a kind of risquÃ© sensuality and was confident enough to play the fool. As a man he had
many faults and limitations but as an entertainer he was without peer.
When I was young he used to drag me around to gigs and I'd be embarrassed by him showing off my boy but
now I hold these memories precious and can now see the pride with which he displayed my sister and me.
Back in 1946 my dad was a member of a group, along with Bob Boyd, Darryl Leggett and Dave Paremore,
called the Trailblazers. They played live on the radio at WRRF 930AM in Washington, NC on a show that was
hosted by Uncle Rufus and by all accounts were very very good. At some point in time, the story is very
sketchy, my dad was invited to come to Nashville but, because my mother was immanently pregnant with me,
he did not go. Strangely I have always felt a little responsible for him missing out on his dream. A second
chance never came but when he flashed his gold tooth and crooned sweetly with that mischevious glint in his
eye he was in heaven and it was audience meltdown time. Dad, I miss you.
John Cale - Free Concert - Wake Forest University
The first glimpse of a legend sorta does something to you. There he stood, larger han life itself, larger than tee vee
even, in his surgeon's greens, tar black hair cropped short and the cut of that jaw; reminded me of Mr. Spock gone
berserk, sans ears of course.
Slamming out Mercenaries John's New Wave Band was a cut above mere competence and provided an excellent
framework from which Cale launched his protests/attacks on form. The band was young and tight. The guitarist was
a bit heavy handed at times but silky smooth. Drummer, keyboard player and chanteuse all sang excellent harmony
and handled their instrumental chores well.
Except for one tune late in the set which was handled by the lovely blond percussionist it was John Cale in the
limelight and he delivered one of the most intense individual performances I have ever witnessed. The former Velvet
Underground bassist switched back and forth between guitar, fretless bass, electric piano and viola as the
composition demanded. John did a bit of crooning, a bit of droning and a bit of straight ahead rock&roll topped off by
a rousing encore of the Modern Lover's Pablo Piccaso but sadly the general apathy displayed by most of the
audience failed to bring the mad Welshman back a second time.
Shonen Knife, live on the net 6-23-98
Shonen Knife is always refreshing, exciting and so, naturally, I was giddy with delight when I found out they would
be introducing their latest release, Happy Hour (Big Deal 9055-2) live on the net (as well as many radio stations)
from the offices of Microsoft. Our old friend Billy G, the six (or is it SIXTY) billion dollar man, was trying to bring
attention to his new NetShow software which he hopes will be in direct competition with RealPlayer. Enough about
You always know what you're getting with Shonen Knife; sharp barbed hooks, Ramones-like motor revving pop,
simple, happy, heartfelt rock'n'roll. It is increasingly more difficult to find anything you can count on these days but
you can rely on Shonen Knife to be, well, Shonen Knife. They are like a puff of fresh air on a sultry, breath arresting
summer day. They're cute, they're cuddly and they ROCK!
They played older stuff like Twist Barbie, Top of the World, their cut from If I Were A Carpenter and the new single
from Happy Hour, Daydream BelieveR. You remember the Monkees, right? Atsuko, Michie and Naoko are the most
shy and demure, unassuming rock'n'roll band I have ever seen. Even local unknowns have more of that "I'm a rock
star" attitude than these girls.
Happy Hour is more of why I love Shonen Knife, uplifting, exuberant, completely unpretentious rock'n'roll.
Konnichiwa, Cookie Day, Sushi Bar, Fish Eyes, Banana Chips, Jackalope, Gyoza, Catch Your Bus, Hot Chocolate
People Traps, His Pet, Dolly, there's not a dud among 'em. Shonen Knife are just incredible and if you can't see
that, I'm truly sorry. For those of us who appreciate them, they are like a revelation. Get it unless you listen to
music to justify your misery, your bummed out, depressed, angst ridden pathetic life and want to celebrate the
fact that you like it that way. If you want to be on a downer stay away from this record. If you like happy, visit
Shonen Knife Planet.
photo by mike dupree