One night, a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord and across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonged to him, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand, and he noticed that many times along the path of his life, there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of his life. This really bothered him, and he questioned the Lord about it: “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk with me all the way. Yet I have noticed during the most troublesome times of my life, there’s only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me.”

The Lord replied: “You stupid, stupid bastard, I love you, and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, that must have been when I was appearing on Law And Order: Special Victims Unit.”

Random Saturday Artwork

I created this in GlitchLab and MirrorLab whilst listening to some Mahavishnu Orchestra on Spotify and thought I’d share it with the rest of the class. It’ll be available on my Redbubble store soon.

Ranking The Frank Zappa Albums #37 You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 4

In 1988 Frank Zappa decided to release his six-volume, 12-CD set, You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, a large collection of live Zappa performances through the years from various tours and incarnations of the band. YCDTOSA Vol. 4 is a two-CD set of live recordings recorded between 1969 and 1988, with the majority of the tracks come from the ’82 and’ 84 tours.

As with any undertaking of this size, when you start digging into an artist that has such a huuuuge back catalogue you’re going to find various treasures: sometimes you’ll unearth something magical, mystical and transcendent; other times it’ll be good, solid stuff that satisfies and then there’s petrified animal droppings that crumble away once you pick it up. Vol. 4 sadly falls into the latter category. Not as bad as the Vol. 6 release, but just as non-essential.

There is, however, an absolute other worldly gem on here: the original version of The Torture Never Stops, a swampy slide guitar fuelled song featuring Captain Beefheart on vocals and harmonica. I love TTNS, whether it’s the Zoot Allures studio version or the live 15 minute one from YCDTOSA 1, with Zappa shredding away like a demon but this vastly different take is probably my favourite version. There are a couple of other great moments; the two Thing-Fish tracks, Tiny Sick Tears (a parody of the Doors song The End) and while the rest of the songs aren’t terrible, I do find myself skipping quite a few numbers, and the album’s closing six tracks (all Zappa style doo-wap tunes) fail to register any interest from me.

A patchy collection at best, but when it gets it right it’s fantastic. 3/5

Frank Zappa – vocals, guitar
Ray White – guitar, vocals
Ike Willis – guitar, vocals
Steve Vai – guitar
Lowell George – guitar, vocals
Mike Keneally – guitar
Warren Cuccurullo – guitar
Denny Walley – slide guitar, vocals
Bobby Martin – keyboards,saxophone vocals
Allan Zavod – keyboards
Tommy Mars – keyboards,vocals
Don Preston – keyboards
George Duke – keyboards, vocals
Peter Wolf – keyboards, Minimoog solo
Mike Keneally – synthesizer
Don Preston – synthesizer
Scott Thunes – bass
Arthur Barrow – bass
Roy Estrada – bass, vocals, keyboards
Tom Fowler – bass
Patrick O’Hearn – bass, vocals
Chad Wackerman – drums
Arthur Dyer Tripp III – drums
Vinnie Colaiuta – drums
Jimmy Carl Black – drums
Chester Thompson – drums
Ralph Humphrey – drums
David Logeman – drums
Terry Bozzio – drums
Captain Beefheart – harmonica and vocals
Ian Underwood – alto saxophone
Paul Carman – alto saxophone
Napoleon Murphy Brock – saxophone
Bunk Gardner – tenor saxophone
Albert Wing – tenor saxophone
Archie Shepp – tenor saxophone
Kurt McGettrick – baritone saxophone
Motorhead Sherwood – baritone saxophone
Buzz Gardner – trumpet
Walt Fowler – trumpet
Bruce Fowler – trombone
Ed Mann – percussion
Ruth Underwood – percussion
Dave Samuels – percussion

Ranking The Frank Zappa Albums #38 Orchestral Favorites

Cover artwork by Gary Panter

Orchestral Favorites is an album by Frank Zappa first released in May 1979 on his own DiscReet Records label. The album is entirely instrumental and features music performed by the 37-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra and were sourced from performances recorded September 17-19, 1975 at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus with conductor Michael Zearott. There were 2 nights of live concert performances and an additional day of recording sessions without the audience.

Although it’s a short album (6 tracks, slightly over 33 minutes of music) it does have a long story of litigation, counter-litigation and legal wrangling.

Zappa’s relationship with manager and business partner Herb Cohen ended in 1976 and in litigation. Zappa and Cohen’s company DiscReet Records was distributed by Warner Brothers and at this point Zappa was still contracted to deliver 4 more albums to WB for release on Discreet. In March 1977 Zappa delivered master tapes for all 4 albums to WB to fulfill this contract; Zappa did not receive payment from Warner upon delivery of the tapes, which was a contract violation. In a 1978 radio interview Zappa listed the four albums delivered to WB and called this album by the title Zappa Orchestral Favorites. After a long legal battle between Warners and Zappa (Zappa had complied the material from the 4 albums into a box set called Läther and negotiated a distribution deal with Phonogram Inc. to release Läther as the first release on the Zappa Records label. The album was scheduled for a Halloween October 31, 1977 release date but Warner claimed ownership of the material and threatened legal action, forcing Zappa to shelve the project. I told you this tale had a lot if legal to-ing and fro-ing!), the Discreet label eventually released 4 Zappa albums during 1978 and 1979: Zappa In New York, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt and Orchestral Favorites. As Zappa had delivered only the tapes to Warner, Orchestral Favorites was released in May 1979 with no musician credits, also Warner also commissioned sleeve art by cartoonist Gary Panter, which was not approved by Zappa but in later CD releases, Panter’s artwork was still used.

Despite its relative short length it’s my favourite orchestral Zappa album, just slightly ahead of The Yellow Shark and even though I prefer to hear these tracks on the Läther CD that was released after Frank’s death, this album is very enjoyable to listen to and the arrangement of Duke of Prunes (from the Absolutely Free album) especially when the guitar solo comes in, is for me the highlight of the album. 3/5

Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
Ian Underwood, Mike Lang & Ralph Grierson – keyboards
Bill Mays – Clavinet
Dave Parlato – bass
Terry Bozzio – drums
Emil Richards, Alan Estes, John Bergamo & Tom Raney – percussion
Mike Altschul – flute and clarinet
Malcolm McNab, Gene Goe & Ray Poper – trumpet
Bruce Fowler, Jock Ellis & Kenny Shroyer – trombone
Dana Hughes – bass trombone
Don Waldrop – tuba & contrabass trombone
Dave Shostac – flute, tenor sax
Gary Foster – 2nd flute (and doubles)
Ray Reed – flute, alto sax
Vic Morosco – clarinet, alto sax
Jay Migliori – clarinet, tenor sax
Mike Altschul – bass clarinet, baritone sax
Earle Dumler – oboe, English horn, bass oboe
John Winter – oboe, English horn
David Scherr – 2nd oboe, tenor sax
Joann Caldwell – bassoon
Bobby Tricarico – bassoon, contrabassoon
David Duke, Arthur Briegleb, Todd Miller & Bob Henderson – French horn
Tommy Morgan – harmonica (on “Duke Of Prunes”)
John Wittenberg & Bobby Dubow – violin
Pamela Goldsmith – viola
Jerry Kessler – cello
Lou Anne Neill – harp
Michael Zearott – conductor

Marley, Scrooge And Me (GDLIYWI) #39

Babylon by Bus is a live album released by Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1978. The tracks on this album are considered, with two exceptions, to be from the Pavillon de Paris concerts over 3 nights, 25–27 June 1978, during the Kaya Tour, though there are discrepancies in the track listing. Like the 1973 album Catch A Fire the first release had something of a novelty cover. The windows of the bus on the front cover were cut out, revealing part of the inner sleeve. As this was a double album, the listener had a choice of four different scenes to view through the windows.

Reggae is not really my forte or genre, and I’m not going to bullshit you about how much I love Bob Marley or how brilliant he was; I mean he was brilliant, wrote some great songs and thrust reggae into the worldwide spotlight, but it took quite a few decades for me to truly appreciate the music and stars of reggae and dub. This live album is one of the most fun live records I’ve heard. The songs are tight, the playing is sharp and crisp (the guitar solos from Junior Marvin and Al Anderson dance through the air, especially Concrete Jungle).

There’s a couple of crossover numbers with his previous live album, Live, but on the whole it’s an album full of Bob songs that I’d not heard before and I throughly enjoyed them. Despite being a double album it doesn’t drag, it’s primarily upbeat and party sounding and it’s just some damn good fun. Highly recommend this album to everyone and anyone and one of my favourite listening experiences in a while.

So upon reaching Babylon we give Bob and his band a 9/10 and a big lively thumbs up.

Next on the turntable is the return of the thin white Duke, but until then TTFN!

Let’s Create Another Album! #2

After the rip-roaring success of my first LCAA post (2 likes and a comment!) I’ve let power and fame go to my head and decided to create another one. The premise, unlike Phase 4 of the MCU, is pretty simple: pick an artist and make the best playlist you can by having a maximum of one song from each studio album and having each song in the same position in the running order as it is on the album. You don’t have to choose from all the albums if you don’t want to or if you can’t. This post will choose 11 tracks from poet, writer, soul singer, one of the godfathers of rap and, alongside Stevie Wonder, a man who helped create a formally recognized observance for Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday: Gil Scott-Heron.

1. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised from Pieces of a Man. Gil’s had some great opening tracks (Shut Um Down, Angel Dust, Hello Sunday! Hello Road!) but it would be really remiss of me to not start off a Gil Scott-Heron list without undoubtedly one of his greatest songs and a rallying cry for change. The whole album is excellent and I’ve left out half a dozen wonderful songs (the title track, Home Is Where The Hatred Is, Lady Day and John Coltrane, I Think I’ll Call It Morning) and is definitely worth checking out.

2. Alien (Hold On To Your Dreams) from 1980. Another prescient song from Gil and his amazing musical partner Brian Jackson (who featured on Pieces of a Man and Freewill and then the albums from Winter In America to 1980 were credited to Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson). It’s a tale of crossing the border to safety and finding a piece of the American Dream.

3. Get Out of the Ghetto Blues from Freewill. It’s a bluesy, piano-led tale full of humour and pathos about the struggles and aspirations of an African-American in early 70’s America.

4. Blue Collar from Moving Target. Gil not only fought and sang for rights of Black people in America and around the world, he also consistently fought for the working class of all races. Part of Gil’s brilliance was he recognized a long, long time ago that race was just one part of the system of oppression in America. Here, in America, class warfare is the real deal. If racism is a symptom, classism is the illness itself, and this bluesy, soulful track nails that feeling.

5. The Bottle from Winter In America One of the highlights of this album, The Bottle is a strong anti-alcohol rant with a funky bass hook, Carribean beat and a great flute solo by Jackson. It was a hit in the US and Gil commented about its success at the time that “pop music doesn’t necessarily have to be shit”. This just beat out Gil’s cover of Inner City Blues from the Reflections album,which you also have to check out.

6. Gun from Reflections Released in 1981, this song is as relevant today as it was 40 years ago, as Gil gives his thoughts on the U.S. 2nd amendment. The Ed Brady guitar solo on this is outstanding.

7. Winter In America from The First Minute of A New Day When I think of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, this is the song that immediately comes into my mind. The first time I heard this, on the Old Grey Whistle Test TV show, I was gobsmacked. It was the first Gil song I heard and the tenderness and pain in his voice sent shivers down my spine, and once again Brain Jackson’s flute playing is sublime. It was a truly electric moment that instantly made me want to discover more of his music.

8. Delta Man (Where I’m Comin From) from Bridges Slow, soulful Funk with a tale of revolution at its heart.

9. Work For Peace from Spirits taken from Gil’s only studio album from the 90’s (he quit music for a while after being dropped by Arista Records in 1985,though he did continue touring) and it’s Gil casting his weary eye over the state of the world and rapping, in a vein similar to B-Movie, over a Kraftwerk-esque electronic beat.

10. New York Is Killing Me from I’m New Here The 13th and final studio album released in 2010, by XL Recordings, and was his first release of original music in 16 years, following a period of personal and legal troubles with drug addiction. It’s a departure from Gil’s usual rhythmic, jazz-Funk and soul style and embraces an acoustic and electronic minimal sound. The album features introspective, confessional lyrics expressing themes of regret, reconciliation, and redemption.

11. Enough from Small Talk at 125th & Lenox I’m ending this list with a poem. It has very brutal imagery and is hard to listen to in some places, specially for a liberal white guy like myself but I understand where Gil is coming from and can empathise with the anger.

I hope you enjoyed the music and words of a truly great musician and poet. I recommend any album that has Gil’s name on it and doubly recommend every album with both Gil’s and Brian Jackson’s name on it. Happy listening!

A Moment of Self Promotion.

Check out my YouTube channel, where I mainly read short stories. I’d love to to voiceovers and narration for TV, radio or vídeos and id appreciate any feedback about how I can improve.

Here’s a link to my Instagram page where I post manipulated photos (using MirrorLab, GlitchLab, Snapseed or a combination of all three) alongside lyrics from metal songs (not always metal lyrics, but a good 95% of them).

I also have a Redbubble store where the mirrored images I create on my phone are featured on a whole host of clothing, home goods and accessories. The leggings are particularly snazzy, if I do say so myself!

Thank you for time and I hope you find something interesting in the links.

Sponsoring The Moshpits 3 (a): a guide to HMHB

After a fairly lacklustre ending to the nineties, our heroic chaps greeted the new millennium with a freshly found pep in their step by releasing 3 albums and 2 ep’s within the first 5 years.

First up was Trouble Over Bridgwater, a pun on the Simon and Garfunkel title. 16 tracks of rip roaring post punk with a Christmas song thrown in for good measure! The band sounds a lot more hungry and the songs Bob and weave along with the same sardonic and sarcastic wit as early albums. Highlights on the album include opener Irk The Purists, the closer Twenty Four Hour Garage People and the folksy tale of an eighties pop duo torn asunder by gravel (The Ballad of Climie Fisher). But the standout song is the wonderful Bob Dylan spoof With Goth On Our Side, a tale of a Welsh goth longing for somewhere to belong.

The following year a six track ep appeared on the scene, Editor’s Recommendation, replete with a hangman’s noose on the front cover (the implication being the editor is recommending you go hang yourself). This ep has a folky blues vibe to the songs with the highlight being New York Skiffle, a charming tune skewering the New York scene of Burroughs, Warhol, Reed and heroin.

Another 12 months passes and a new HMHB album emerges confidently into the world. Cammel Laird Social Club is, in my opinion, one of the best HMHB albums there is. It’s the I recommend to people if they’ve not heard the band before; it’s really quite accessible for the non-fan. The lyrics range from such diverse things as fair trade cocaine, five day tests, Milton, Hardy’s Tess of the d’Ubervilles and sniffer dogs in fluorescent bibs. It’s quite difficult to pick out just one track to highlight but the pop-punk vibe of She’s In Broadstairs showcases them at their best.

Saucy Haulage Ballads, another six track ep, and whilst having a couple of great tracks on here, it felt a little flat after CLSC the previous year. Still, it probably contains more ideas, insight and moments than most bands could manage in an entire career, with Blood On The Quad being the standout track.

It took another 2 years before we saw hide or hair of HMHB again but when they returned it was with another belter of an album. Achtung Bono, the band’s tenth full length, showed no signs of flagging or running on fumes and carried on where Cammel had left off; scathing observations on bogus officials, farm yard signs, unusual band themed merchandise and bad tattoos. Once again it’s difficult to pick just one track but the closer, We Built This Village On A Trad. Arr. Tune is up there.

That’s just the first five years of 2000 done with! Next post catches us right up to date with the band. Until then, TTFN.

Let’s Create An Album!

I stole this idea of the internet and thought I’d share it with you. Basically, pick an artist and make the best playlist you can by having a maximum of one song from each studio album and having each song in the same position in the running order as it is on the album. You don’t have to choose from all the albums if you don’t want to or if you can’t. So with that in mind, here’s my Thin Lizzy ‘album’.

1. Jailbreak from Jailbreak. It was between this, She Knows, Soldier of Fortune and Rosalie for best opener and Jailbreak busted out!

2. Bad Reputation from Bad Repuation. Quite frankly, this is my ultimate Thin Lizzy album and I could have chosen any of the tracks from it.

3. Borderline from Johnny The Fox I love Phil when he’s in his lovelorn state. It was between this and The Sun Goes Down and as great as that song is, Borderline is better.

4. The Rocker from Vagabonds of the Western World. Something from the third album and the only one to feature Eric Bell.

5. Fighting from Fighting. There are some great Lizzy songs as the fifth track: Warriors, Dancing In The Moonlight, Cold Sweat, but this title track fought (ha!) its way onto the list.

6. Showdown from Nightlife. Between this slow, funky jam and Got To Give It Up for this spot. Showdown is a great song with a nice hint of menace.

7. Genocide (The Killing of a Buffalo) from Chinatown. One of the bright spots on a fairly poor Lizzy album.

8. Bad Habits from Thunder And Lightning. I do like me some lecherous Phil occasionally and this one rocks too.

9. Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend from the album Black Rose: A Rock Legend. Beating out classics such as Emerald and Dear Lord, I can’t think of a better way to close any album than with this 7+ minute rocker. The song’s middle section will have you air-guitaring like a loon!

Not too shabby a playlist; I didn’t pick anything from their first two albums nor Renegade as I’m not that big of a fan of those ones. So, that’s my list, I’d love to know yours.

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