Tag Archives: krautrock

Hot Tub Rock Show: David G’s Last Call List, Pt. 2

This week, Noise Narcs answers the age-old question: What five bands would you travel back in time to see in their prime? To see other responses, jump in the hot tub.

This is part two of David G’s Hot Tub Time Machine post, listed in chronological order. See Part 1 here.

3. Velvet Underground, 1966-1967

I’m not alone in seeing VU as the blueprint for our current generation’s music. All of the Hot Tub posts have been heavily slated to the ’60s. But if acts like the Stones and Beatles and Jefferson Airplane defined “60s music,” the Velvet Underground deformed it. As other music shot to the top of the charts, the Velvet Underground played music that would bubble up from the sewers: shaped noise, not pretty songs with sass and “substance,” was the real rock of the 1960s.

I can barely imagine the shock of their mid-60s live shows. This was the Billboard top 10 for 1966:

1. "The Ballad of the Green Berets," Sgt. Barry Sadler
2. "Cherish," Association
3. "You're My Soul and Inspiration," Righteous Brothers
4. "Monday, Monday," The Mama's and The Papa's
5. "96 Tears," ? and The Mysterians
6. "Last Train to Clarksville," The Monkees
7. "Reach Out I'll Be There," Four Tops
8. "Summer In the City," Lovin' Spoonful
9. "The Poor Side of Town," Johnny Rivers
10. "California Dreamin'," The Mama's and The Papa

Meanwhile, Velvet Underground was playing with Nico on Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable tour, with dancers (e.g., Edie Sedgwick), Warhol film projections, and miscellaneous performances by members of Warhol’s Factory. VU would play songs from their upcoming debut, and they would frequently end their shows with a jam they were calling “Booker T” (see my earlier Booker T and the MGs obsession), which would eventually form White Heat‘s chilling “The Gift.” What it comes down to, my fellow Narcs, is what side of the street are you on? The top 10? Or the VU?

Decent sounding bootlegs for this era are scarce, but Youtube user groovemonzter has taken a riotous live recording of “Run, Run, Run” from 1969 and mashed it with Warhol video from the Exploding Plastic Inevitable show. Pick your side wisely:

The Velvet Underground, “Run, Run, Run (Live, 1969)”

Kölsch in a Can (yuck, yuck)

4. Can, 1971-1973, Cologne, Germany

I know: this makes me the worst, a cliché right out of LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” (“I was there in 1968 / I was there at the first Can show in Cologne”). But if, as Matt K observes, the spiritual end of the 60s was The Rolling Stones’ disaster at Altamont, then Can is the sound of the 1960s being torn limb from limb. Even their name is an backronym for “communism, anarchism, nihilism.”

The date range is arbitrary, I’d be equally happy with the 1968-71 lineup that featured Malcolm Mooney as the lead singer (before his nervous breakdown led his psychiatrist to conclude Can’s music was bad for his mental health). But the period from ’71 to 74, with the subdued intensity of Japanese street singer Kenji “Damo” Suzuki at the helm, is when they truly hit their stride. Sure, it’d have been amazing to have been at their infamous six hour concert in Berlin (a walk in the park for the band: classic “Yoo Doo Right” was edited down from a twenty hour improv jam). But I’d rather see them on their home turf of Cologne, drinking Kölsch after Kölsch, as Can played their hypnotic pysch-funk until the world was rendered senseless.


Can, “Paperhouse (Live)”


Can, “Spoon (Live, Cologne 1972)”

5. Morphine, 1989-1990, Boston

In every way this is a stupid, wrong answer. Go ahead and close your eyes and ignore this; pretend I chose wisely and picked Nina Simone and embedded her un-embeddable “He Was Too Good to Me” from her gig at The Village Gate. But I didn’t. Like many foolish men before me, I got seduced by a fantasy:

I’m in Boston, a town I like but don’t love. I’m alone. After passing dreadful Irish™ bar after dreadful Irish™ bar, I give up and enter one. “Hey, where you going, $5 cover.” Seriously?“Yeah. Band tonight. Morphine.” Stupid name, I think as I pay and belly to the bar. Band has just started its set. Bass, drum, and sax, a stupid gimmick that I ignore. I drink, elbows on the bar, trying to figure out what I’m doing in Boston, what I’m doing with my life, what my next beer will be. And then I hear it. That sound. That goddamn driving sound, that sax slipping into every crevice of a stone rock groove. I push the guy in the stool next to me, sure that this has to be the opener, Who is this? He shrugs. And then they switch gears. A ballad. All that rock drive, all that forward groove, disappears. And my heart drops into my stomach, and any hope of finding whatever I came to Boston for slips from the face of the earth.

You’re probably asking, how would this work? Would the time machine also be an amnesia machine? Don’t you think Morphine would probably have packed a crowd in their hometown even in their early days? What kind of lame variation on the gem-in-the-corner-bar dream is this?

And to that, I say: screw you and your belief in an imaginary time machine. Go listen to Nina Simone, you sissy.

Morphine on a really lame-seeming French TV show:

And the ballad that dropped my imaginary heart:
Morphine, “You Look Like Rain (Live, Bootleg Detroit, 1994)”

6-10. Pavement

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LCD Soundsystem Knows All of What I Want

I reached for Noise Narcs’ post function within the first bar of “All I Want.” LCD Soundsystem doing a motorik beat? Instant sale.

I wasn’t that enthralled by “Drunk Girls,” the first leaked track from This Is Happening, but this song really does have everything I want. Motorik beat? Check. The dance-pathos of “All My Friends”? Check. “Heroes”-checking guitar? Check. An amazing, haunting, synthesizer that explodes daintily at the 2:53 mark? Check. Acts as an objective correlative to my excitement over a move to a new part Philly? Check, oh my yes, check.

LCD’s website has set up a free stream of the album pre-release, and I’ve got ants in my pants to finish this stupid post so I can go listen to it.

And I couldn’t mention motorik without posting the masters themselves, Neu! Drop these two songs on your mp3 player and start walking: odds on that 15 minutes later, you’ll wake up and find yourself in a completely foreign part of your supposedly well-known metropolis. Dig that beat.

LCD Soundsystem, “All I Want”
Neu!, “Hallo Gallo”

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1-UP: Giving music a second life

In the past week, I’ve been inundated with music that I had written off. So, a new feature: 1-UP, where we fess up to hatin’ on bands that shouldn’t have been hated on.

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks
There was nothing wrong with Real Estate’s album. It just didn’t capture me, Pitchfork’s 8.5 seemed ridiculous, and I wrote them off as just another wave in this year’s tsunami of beach rock. But their side project, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, will have me giving them another look. Imagine Yo La Tengo and Neil Young forming a classic rock band. Or really, forget that critic speak: just imagine really chill classic rock.

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, “Animal Tracks”

Kraftwerk
I’ve never disliked Kraftwerk, but I’ve always put them in the formative but not for me category, and skipped them for their off-shoot Neu! (who really are the best). After reading about Philly’s newest Fishtown watering hole, I put onTrans Europe Express while walking home, and damn was I wrong. Sorry, legendary electronica weirdos: my bad.

Joanna Newsom
Nope, I was right. Still unlistenable. Someone needs to hold an intervention for Andy Samberg.

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New Music Tuesdays: Free Lying Gorillaz

A very quick edition of New Music Tuesdays, highlighting a few albums that were released yesterday.

Liars, Proud Evolution
Post-punk Kraturock-philes Liars released a very solid fifth effort in Sisterworld. I’ve already annoyed people with “Scissor” via Facebook, so I’ll post their sequel to Pearl Jam’s “Do the Evolution” (lie):

Liars, “Proud Evolution”
Also, Thom Yorke did a remix, Radiohead completists:

Gorillaz, Plastic Beach
Damon Albarn-helmed Gorillaz released the uneven but fun Plastic Beach. Why wouldn’t grimemaster Kano feature with the Lebanese National Orchestra?

Gorillaz, “White Flag”

Free Energy, Stuck on Nothing
Philadelphia hipster classic rock band Free Energy skip right over the Philly scene to get produced by dancemeister James Murphy (DFA, LCD Soundsystem). You’ll forgive it’s numerous clunkers for its breezy spring feel and sundry good songs. Even though I’m pretty unimpressed, I can see it growing on me until it becomes a closet favorite (see: Semisonic, Counting Crows). Their first-released track is still their best:

Free Energy, “Dream City”

Also, jj released jj nº 3, which I wrote about and posted from earlier: Tropical vacations with jj & Gucci”.

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