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Thursday, March 09, 2006

SURFACE NOISE vol 3

I believe in bio-rhythms. I have cycles. I'm in a vinyl cycle.

Ever since Happy Boy moved out here to Williamsburg in 2001, people have warned me about Ear Wax, a record store on Bedford. 'Assholes' was the word used most often. I'm not sure about that. There was only one guy workin' there when I went in for the first time today, and he didn't say much except 'cash or credit'.

I bought stuff.

In 1976 Neil Young released 'Tonight's The Night'.


[TTN album cover]


I already have a copy of this record, but it's seriously worn, and a new, sealed edition for 10 bucks was certainly up my alley. I'm sure Chris will enjoy having it at the studio.

Over the course of 73-75 Neil young lost a number of friends and associates to heroin.

"I hit the city and I lost my band...."

Nils Lofgren assumed the role of the dearly departed Danny Whitten in Crazy Horse. Neil did his 'Harvest' thing, and after some time they all got back together and made this very loose, very dark, incredibly evocative record.

There are no hits from this one. The title track, and 'Come On Baby Let's Go downtown' have been enduring numbers for Neil over the years, but over all, this record is about a time and place in Neil's soul, and it's best left there.

Side Two is sublime. 'Roll Another Number' followed by 'Albequerque' just gets me, deep down.

"Well, they say that Santa Fe is less than ninety miles away
And I got time to roll a number, and rent a car

Oh Albuquerque"

'Tired Eyes' kills me. Dylan wishes he could be so visceral.

Well, it wasn't
supposed to go
down that way.
But they burned his brother,
you know,
And they left him lying
in the driveway.
They let him down with nothin'.
He tried to do his best
but he could not.

Please take my advice,
please take my advice
Please take my advice.
Open up the tired eyes,
Open up the tired eyes.

Well tell me more,
tell me more,
tell me more
I mean was he a heavy doper
or was he just a loser?
He was a friend of yours.
What do you mean,
he had bullet holes
in his mirrors?
He tried to do his best
but he could not.

Lou Reed's 'Berlin' is most likely the saddest most disturbing popular recording of all time, but Neil comes in at number two here. Neil likes being number two. Crazy Horse is, after all, according to Neil, the second greatest garage band of all time. He never said who's number one. I don't think he knows, I just think he's comfy with being number two - less pressure.

Speaking of Lou, I also picked up a copy of 'Transformer'.

44541-2


Again, I have this one already, as does Chris. It was five bucks, and I wanted it....NOW. It's a bit worn, but it's 'Transformer' for chrissakes!

Chris and I spar a bit over this record. He's a real Lou fan, and likes pretty much everything Lou does - I understand that. I have a similar thing with other acts (Bowie). I tend to goad Chris by saying things like: "It took Bowie to get a good record out of Lou", or "It's the best thing he ever did". The problem is that I really believe those things. This LP has Bowie, and, even more pervasively, Mick Ronsosn all over it. In fact, one could say that the record was most influenced (outside of Lou - he wrote the album!) by Mick.

"You're going to reap just what you sow"

...and I will.

It's fairly safe to say that it's Lou's most successful solo record. 'New York' might have sold more copies - I don't know - but you hear these songs; 'Walk on the Wild Side', 'Perfect Day', 'Viscous', 'Satellite Of Love' more than any other post VU Lou tunes.


At the same time that Neil was doing 'Tonight's the Night' and Lewis Reed was toying with a person he created called Lou Reed, a German prog band by the mane of 'Gong' released an album called 'Shamal'.

Shamal

I have been hearing about Gong, and reading about Gong for over twenty years.

I bought.

Johnny Rotten played a Gong record when he was guest DJ on Radio Luxembourg (circa 76) - I don't know which. I have a record by another German prog band called Amon Duul II (umlauts not provided, they go over both U's). Apparently there was an Amon Duul at some point previously. I like that record, and I like this one.

It's very well recorded, with very precise instruments.

I'm betting Tony Alva wouldn't have let his brother play this one twice in the room with orange walls. I don't think it would have lasted a whole side, not even with the US Bongs Capitol Hill in action. There is some seriously wailing guitar, but you have to look for it between flute solos.

Five years before all of that, what seems both a lifetime and an instant way, the Stooges spent some time at Elektra Sound Recorders in L.A. making what would become the 'Funhouse' record.

EKS-74071


I bought myself the same 180 gram edition I bought Fred for Christmas. It's good. Real good. This is the record where they used a PA in the live room. This is also the album that nobody bought when it came out, the label dropped them, and Iggy put himself in a state of homeless drug addiction prior to giving up on rock and roll and moving back home to Michigan.

He would be brought of retirement by, ahem....David Bowie.

Rock On.

Comments:
Ted it was Danny Whitten that first heard about Nils, he told Neil about him and they invited him to play piano on After the Gold Rush. It was Nils that wrote Beggars Day for the first and best solo Crazy Horse album. Nils left crazy Horse and jump started Grin after this, and Neil had him come back for the Tonight’s the Night album. Nils was never Danny Whitten's replacement. They tried a few different guitarists, but finally replaced him with Frank Shampedro in 1975 for Zuma, as you know he is still with the Band.
 
we gotta listen to TV Eye before we mix Hell Disaster tonight!
 
"Transformer" is certainly a great record. The songs, the sounds, the performances, the production, the cover... everything works.

There's a lot of Mick Ronson on this record, but almost no David Bowie. He "produced" this in much the same way that Warhol "produced" the first Velvets record; it was more about bringing the parties together and letting them get on with it.

Of course it didn't take Bowie to get a good record out of Lou. Lou had already made 4 Velvets records. "Transformer" was only his second solo record; he'd only failed once (the first solo record).

Lou's solo debut ("Lou Reed") was recorded without Dolby but mixed back with a Dolby decoder on, f'ing everything up. It wasn't until many years later, when Lou was compiling tracks for a collection, that he noticed what had happened.

Interestingly, "Satellite of Love" was written during Lou's time with the Velvets, and all of "Transformer" is hugely Warhol influenced (Andy came up with the name "Vicious" and the line about hitting you with a flower).

In terms of the arrangements and production, Mick Ronson was huge.

As far as how "successful" it is, there are other Lou records that work as well as cohesive wholes. "Coney Island Baby," "Set the Twilight Reeling" come to mind.
 
My blog is turning into a sort of wackypedia - I post stuff that I believe to be true, and then all the other truths follow. Cool.
 
I have learned that it wasn't Gong that Johnny Rotten played on the radio, it was Can, and it wasn't Radio Luxembourg it was Capitol Radio One.
 
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