Saturday, February 21, 2009
Das Sein, that sein, your sein, everybody's fuckin' sein
Ann Peebles, "You've Got the Papers," The Handwriting on the Wall (1979)
Topically speaking, a soul oddity: a song in celebration of being that "Other Woman" over whom Ike Hayes was in such a sweat, namely the woman who gets the actual affection while the legal-thing has the money and the house but little else. Ass-kicking horn arrangement, and if the way Ann sings, "But if he's using me, girl/He sure keeps me pleased," doesn't convince you that she don't give a fuck fer social convention, then you mussa wos not been listening hard enough.
Return to Forever, "Crystal Silence," Return to Forever (1972)
As with anyone absurdly talented, Chick Corea has tended to fill his career with episodes in which his vast ability gets the better of his taste and discretion: his concept albums of the late '70s and the lower points of '80s Elektric Band output are fairly dire indeed, and even the better eras of his work are rarely untouched by some interlude of questionable judgment (I seem to be fairly alone in thinking that the first incarnation of RTF got pretty god damn cloying on Light as a Feather--Flora Purim really needs not to be asked to deliver "poetry," and especially not dodgy psuedo-Hubbardian doggerel--and Romantic Warrior was the only really excellent record that the Al DiMeola lineup made, although I'll ride for the Bill Connors group and Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy 'til day's end)--all this to say nothing of his problematic religious affiliations. When he's good, though, he's great, and even after the incorporation of his innovations into the pianistic mainstream, no one really sounds like him: the combination of classically precise solo lines, open, ambiguous chord voicings, and a sense of drama of rhythmic acuity drawn equally from Spanish flamenco and the Afro-Caribbean montuno (the scalar chord fragments a pianist generally plays in salsa and related styles) remains uniquely his, and little need be said about the phenomenal quality of his compositional sense at its best. Dig him and Joe Farrell solidifying and disappearing through one of his most concise, perfect pieces.
Gong, "Sold to the Highest Buddha," Radio Gnome Invisble, Pt. II: Angel's Egg (1973)
Aussie emigré Daevid Allen was originally the guitarist for the soon-to-legendary Soft Machine, which began as something of a house band from the Simon Langton School for Boys (a historically remarkable institution at which were educated nearly all the major musicians of what would become the Canterbury scene--Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge, Hugh and Brian Hopper, Richard and David Sinclair, Trevor Jones); when the group played a gig in France, Allen was barred from re-entering the UK for having previously stayed there on an expired visa. Luckily, Divided Alien himself wasn't much the sort to be bothered by that kind of thing, so he quickly assembled a cadre of French and English musicians and assembled Gong in its psych-space rock phase (after his mid-'70s exit, the band would become a jazz-fusion outfit under the leadership of drummer Pierre Moerlen). Guitarist Steve Hillage and saxophonist Didier "Bloomdido Bad de Grasse" Malherbe are especially notable on this'un, and I love the way Allen's vocal moves over the off-kilter 6/4 rhythm section.