A flat out classic cut in the brickspicks.com corporate offices and would be everywhere if anyone ever played it again. Or even heard it ever. Too rock’n’roll, I guess, for people in a Tim Buckley mood, while the rock’n’roll people see the name Tim Buckley and rear away–it’s the dreaded singer songwriter genre. But this thing grooves in a tough noir way like Jack Nicholson dancing, and the lyrics have just the right coked out horny 70’s nihilism, like a Blue Thumb session gone bad when the drugs were edgy and paranoid. And while the mood is as wrong as any song could be in 1972, Tim Buckley could have stomped into CBGB’s with this about 1976 and fit nicely and no one would have noticed he was a hippie. Or could have, had he not been stone cold dead already.
Somebody innocently mentioned a cactus being picked up by the wind and hurled at them. Which was bad enough, but someone raised the discomfort level by several orders of magnitude by responding with a YouTube of Cactus doing Parchment Farm. Egad. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Cactus. Well, they were Detroit band you loved if you thought the Grand Funk Railroad live album was overly melodic, subtle and well crafted. Because Cactus dispensed with even a hint of melody, subtlety and craft. They were the Detroit sound after Detroit had burned down. I remember finding their their album Restrictions in a bin somewhere for fifty cents. I think it was their third, by which time they had shed any hint of musicality, and is one of the most gloriously unmelodic hard rock records of its time. 40 minutes worth of songs pummeled to death by drums and guitars and the most tone deaf singer ever allowed into a studio. I loved that album. Wish I still had my copy, if only to bother people. Anyone who partied at our place in the mid 80’s was subjected to it at ridiculous volume.
Alas, at some point I became a jazz critic and now find that record utterly unlistenable. But there was a spell there circa early-mid-eighties when somehow finding the loosest, rawest, trashiest music imaginable became of utmost importance to a select few of us. I remember Humble Pie’s rendition of Honky Tonk Women was an unlistenable pleasure. Makes me almost glad that not a single soul in the entire world, not even some tone deaf record collector in Germany or Japan or Brazil, has posted the Lee Michaels unclassic Roochie Toochie Loochie, off his forgotten Tailface, which even then I thought was one of the dumbest album titles ever. But if you drunkenly drove from the Anti-Club to our pad in the mid 80’s at two in the morning, you and our neighbors were subjected to Roochie Toochie Loochie at ridiculous volume until one of you complained.
Anyway, here’s a cut off of Restrictions. If you are at work turn the volume as high as possible right now.
Wow. Yet another spontaneous celebration last night. In lieu of live music we watched the 27 hours long Director’s orgy of Woodstock, followed by the concise Gimme Shelter. A whole night spent in the last months of the 1960s. Sure I’ve seen both a zillion times, but never as a sixty year old. Noticed: music was way loose back then. Way. Also, people were way thin back then. Way. And septuagenarians now were once beautiful hippies. Beautiful. And also: weed was less strong and people rolled enormous bombers. And also as well, fat naked people on LSD, though that was Gimme Shelter. (Note to self, avoid LSD, or least keep clothes on.) Thin gorgeous people on LSD in Woodstock, pulchritudinous even. (OK, you try spelling pulchritudinous on a hungover Sunday morning after a couple hours sleep.) And you can tell where all this paranoia came from, though people are infinitely more paranoid now than then. Still, the two dudes yelling about the government seeding the clouds, man, was perhaps the only part of either movie that seemed like today. Finally, the Jefferson Airplane were one awesome band in 1969. Seriously. The extended 98 hour cut of Woodstock gives them more songs than any other band, they were that good. Damn.
Off to loll about in the flowers. Acid, incense and balloons. Figuratively speaking. I can’t stand incense. Punk rockers, you know, we just don’t appreciate nothing.
Also, think I’ll stay away from red wine for a while.
If that cat don’t stop it man.
Somebody couldn’t remember the old Carly Simon song Anticipation. Sure you remember it, I said. How did it go? I began humming what I thought was the melody but was actually the bass line, accompanied by Jim Keltner’s (or was it Andy Newmark’s?) accents on the tom toms, boomp ba de bum boomp boomp. Air drummed, of course. The person looked at me bewildered. I stopped, felt like an idiot, and said in a monotone: Anticipation, anticipay-ay-shun. Oh yeah, he said, and began singing along.
I don’t recommend it, especially if you used to do a lot of acid or are prone to bouts of schizophrenia or maybe just missed a dose of your epilepsy meds, but it turns out that if you play Lightning Strikes five times simultaneously, beginning each about five seconds into the one before, it will build into this high pitched polyrhythmic cacophony somewhat reminiscent of the Shaggs backing the Four Seasons with Rashied Ali on drums. For maybe ten seconds it is out there heaven. Then it just gets stupid and you take your epilepsy meds and swear you’ll never mention this to anyone.
Great song, though.
What Classic Rock Band Are You? asks the Facebook quiz. My friend said he was the Beatles. Another was the Stones. Another said he was Led Zeppelin. One guy said Jimi Hendrix, but I think he lied and was just trying to get laid. He’s more a Supertramp in real life. But try to get laid as Supertramp. Dreamer, indeed.
I wanted to join in but I hate those stupid what kind of whatever are you quiz things. Doubtless there’s a jazz one out there somewhere. All these jazz buffs coming up Kenny G and claiming to be Miles.
But this was the What Classic Rock Band Are You quiz and I was feeling left out of the Facebook fun–that’s what Facebook is all about, fun–so I lied and said I was Widowmaker. None of you have ever heard of Widowmaker. I think there was somebody sorta kinda somebody in Widowmaker. I could look it up. I could. Anyway I remember back in around 1976 they were getting a push from whatever record company had signed them and I can still hear the hook of their smash hit song. I think it had two chords, though mostly one. It had a plodding boogie beat and a boring singer. Maybe twenty seconds of that. It was a short commercial. I remember thinking I would never buy that record ever, even with that smash hit song. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought that. That smash hit song was never a smash hit. And I knew I would never ever have to think about Widowmaker again.
In stepped fate. I saw them. There I was in my seat and the emcee announced England’s newest sensation, Widowmaker! Scattered applause. The only thing I remember was that twenty seconds of their smash hit song. The rest is a blur. Well, not a blur exactly, more a blank. I don’t recall the audience being excited. In fact, by the time the band was finished everyone just seemed depressed. Even Santana seemed depressed. I’d just seen Santana tear the roof of the Swing Auditorium in San Berdoo twice in a row, a pair of the greatest rock concerts I ever saw but here they were just sort of there. It was like Widowmaker had sucked the air right out of the room. And the Starlight Amphitheater is an outdoor venue. So it was like Widowmaker had sucked the air right out of Burbank.
That’s all I know about Widowmaker. Which is why they are the Classic Rock Band that I am. But only because it’s Monday. Tomorrow I’ll be the Five Man Electrical Band. On Wednesday I’ll be the guys that did that song about I’m your Vehicle, baby. On Thursday I’ll be the Band. Friday the Mahavishnu Orchestra. And Saturday I’ll be Jimi Hendrix. Watch out ladies.
OK, not the real Jimi Hendrix, not at my age, but Mahogany Rush, who I saw once and made me permanently deaf even though they were lousy. At least Widowmaker didn’t hurt me.
Widowmaker. Just try to make them laugh.
The angriest hate mail I ever got while writing my jazz column for the LA Weekly was from an old hippie from the canyon who thought I’d slighted Joni Mitchell. Well I had, actually, a little, but that was too much for him. He raged, he fulminated, he would have kicked my punk rock ass. He gave me a long lesson in Joni Mitchelldom. Unfortunately I didn’t save any of the emails, which came to probably a thousand words, beautiful things really, so goddamn angry, but I do remember he called me a young whippersnapper. I didn’t dare tell him I was more of a late middle aged whippersnapper. No, I was nice, said I felt shame, and promised to listen to Court and Spark.
I lied, of course. Once a whippersnapper, always a whippersnapper.
Cass, Joni, Judy, Joan and young whippersnapper.