Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Take a Piece of Me"

Uh, oh! You either don't have the Flash plug-in installed, or you have it disabled.
Otherwise, there'd be a cute lil' streaming audio player on the left, rather than this message.

I Stand Alone
CD single
(Geffen, 1993)

Around twenty years ago, Jackyl's first single, I Stand Alone, came bustin' outta my car radio and kicked my ass. It was followed quickly by more hits from their eponymous debut album, like The Lumberjack, When Will It Rain, and Down on Me. It wasn't too long before I bought a copy and ended up loving the whole thing. Even though I'm not a huge fan of Southern Rock, their rousing crossbreeding of AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd just plain hits my spot.

They've released a buncha albums since, and just came out with their latest, Best in Show. By the way, if you get it at BestBuy (click the title a few words back!), you get two extra songs, plus a DVD with a long interview with the band about their history along with a few videos. It's not quite as good as their previous album, When Moonlight and Dynamite Collide, which made my official Top Ten of 2010 list, but it's most definitely a winner.

Today's selection is one of their few rarities, an exclusive b-side from the German maxi-single of the aforementioned I Stand Alone. Dig it!

PS: ZZ Top's killer new album La Futura also has an exclusive BestBuy version with two extra tracks. Jump on it!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Congratulations on Your Decision to Become a Pilot
"When we were kids we built a treehouse from our neighbors' windows and if you get far enough away it looks like a giant eyeball"

Congratulations on Your Decision to Become a Pilot
Congratulations on Your Decision to Become a Pilot
(Aisle 2 Records, 2000)

There used to be a small CD store named musiCDrome near my old office that I hit on my lunch break on a regular basis. They had a dollar bin that afforded me many prizes over the few years they were around, and I missed them when they moved to a new location many, many miles away.

One of my favorite dollar bin finds at musiCDrome was the eponymous, and only, album by Congratulations on Your Decision to Become a Pilot. As soon as I saw the ridiculously long band name and super-stark cover art, I knew I had to at least give it a try. Luckily, they had a couple of CD players, so one could sample potential purchases before making a decision. I listened to a few seconds of the opening track and walked out with it moments later, $1.06 gone from my wallet.

Sadly, they split sometime after this album was released, but not before contributing the otherwise-unavailable track Tied Up Overhead to the Doubleplusgood Records Pop for Charity: Sound Progression compilation CD.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Uh, oh! You either don't have the Flash plug-in installed, or you have it disabled.
Otherwise, there'd be a cute lil' streaming audio player on the left, rather than this message.

Someone on the message boards on Rob Halford's website used to talk these guys up all the time, years ago. One day, I was going through the bargain bin at my favorite local store and spied their latest album, Organasm. I decided to gamble $5 on it, and it paid off. As I soon discovered, Alchemist marry what might seem to be the rather disparate genres of death metal and psychedelia. I like to think of them as the Pink Floyd of death metal, but you may not agree. In which case, you are obviously a false and a poser (sic)!


Seriously, though, Alchemist are heavy as a swear word for copulation whilst mighty trippy and freaky, at the same time. I debated what song to pick, and decided to go with this one from their out-of-print third album, Spiritech. A few years back, Relapse Records released a nifty double-CD, Embryonics (left) compiling most of the tracks from the album along with material from their first and second albums, 1993's Jar of Kingdom and 1995's Lunasphere, their Eve of the War EP, and some demo tracks and live recordings. This song, however, was one of the few left off.

Lest anyone think the lyrics might be transphobic, I've decided to include them for your perusal. They're certainly not run-of-the-mill death metal verbiage.


Union of opposites become union
of ones self.
The universe above mirrors
the universe within.

You search for identity,
schizophrenic multi being.
Your two have become one,
your libran scales often sway.

Focus your thoughts on balance
meditate on harmony.
Elevate your mind and all that is
shall return.

Your active male, fuels your fire for
Furious dominating.

Your passive female, maternal soul.
Psychic subconcious.

Under the scepter of Zeus,
Your two become one.

Let your will penetrate
Deeply from within.
Your libran scales sway
With eternal unrest.

Two as one.
Unisex, you are she and she is him.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"It's Alright"

Uh, oh! You either don't have the Flash plug-in installed, or you have it disabled.
Otherwise, there'd be a cute lil' streaming audio player on the left, rather than this message.

Amazon MP3Hellcats It's Allright - Hellcats 1/P*ss Party

12" EP
(Radio Records, 1982)

The cover of this Hellcats record jumped off the new release rack at me back when I was in my early days of college. I took one look and determined it was a complete rip-off of the Starz logo. Picking it up and flipping it over revealed just exactly why I thought that: it was intentional. See, Hellcats were, in fact, a new band featuring the former lead vocalist and guitarist of Starz, Michael Lee Smith and Richie Ranno. It's a bit lighter than Starz, but still pretty cool.

I should probably mention that Starz did go through a short power pop phase, with their third album Attention Shoppers!

Hellcats followed this EP with a full length album a few years later, but Michael was gone and, from what I remember of it, so was the spark.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

William Penn
"Gossamer Looms"

William Penn
Crystal Rainbows
(Sounds Reasonable, Inc., 1978)

From the cover and title, one might expect the album therein to be some sort of horrible New Age monstrosity. I bought it 'cause Robert Rutman appears on this track with one of his marvelous steel cellos (picture below, with string enhanced by moi). It was with a definite sense of dread that I put it on the turntable, but my fears were quickly destroyed by the content of the music within.

The liner notes tell the story of the album better than I can, so I'll let them take over:

Born January 11, 1943, William Penn has, during his career as a composer, written music which is tonally accessible to everyone. His music and sound effects scores commissioned by the National Air and Space Museum for the Albert Einstein Spacearium have thrilled millions. His music for Shakespearean Plays, performed by the Folger Theater Group and the New York Shakespeare Festival, has brought new depth to the classics. As a serious composer, Penn has written more than thirty concert pieces, twelve film scores, six musicals, four ballets, and forty-three scores for plays.

What you are about to hear is not a mainstream creation of any kind. From the choice of instruments to the final cutting of the master discs, this is an unusual production.

American primitive instruments and finely handcrafted replications have been combined with state-of-the-art recording technology to produce an amazing expression of far-sighted creativity, both idiomatically and technologically.

It all seems so magical, this assemblage of woods, strings and steel, but we who experience it daily understand the great simplicity of the work. Within the confines of the art, this experience becomes, simultaneously, divinely personal and universal, leaving works to the world which encompass all ages. Yet, instrument building is an art that needs to be seen as well as heard. Recent efforts to reveal contemporary masterworks have been most encouraging. Gallery shows, museum exhibits, art festivals, and publications have all aided this great renaissance of instrumental design.

Ken Riportella
Maker/Metamorphis II

In June 1978, Sounds Reasonable, Inc. (SRI) learned that the Renwick Gallery of the National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, would mount an exhibition that included unique and esoteric American handcrafted musical instruments. SRI subsequently developed the idea of composing an album of music played on these instruments.

By July 1978, a cooperative agreement between SRI, the Smithsonian Institution and the instrument makers was signed, and work began. SRI selected Dr. William Penn as composer for the project. After reviewing and finally choosing forty-three of the instruments, thirteen were actually used in the recording. The nature of the musical compositions precluded using all of the instruments chosen. The listener may wish to note that the instruments recorded are listed on the opposite leaf in the order of their appearance on the recording. Devices for electronic effects are listed only when used as discrete sound sources.

Tonality of the instruments has been modified throughout by using electronic and spring echo; parametric equalization; electronic pitch change; and phase reversal. Delicately recorded are the natural qualities of the instruments themselves. The Cloud Chamber Bowls drift naturally through the stereo spectrum, while the grand piano takes on an unbelievable dual identity.

Crystal Rainbows is a work of monolithic tonality which, unlike the more common commercial record, finds unity in its musical structure while allowing each listener the freedom to discover favorite colours in the making of personal rainbows.

Since the first recordings were completed, people have asked which of the instruments I like the best. Unequivocally I must answer the Ten-Foot Single String Stainless Steel Cello. The power and depth of this wonderful instrument are refreshing, and the opportunities for exploration are exciting in prospect and unpredictable in direction. Conjuring up visions of dragons, black holes and volcanic eruptions, this monster too large for the recording studio was erected in the lobby of our downtown office building at 2:00 A. M., and recorded during the lull between the passage of the night people and the early morning buses. The rubber piano, although not part of the exhibit, is also a favorite and is Penn's invention.

The audiophile will find dynamic range that literally makes the stereo system buzz; the electronic music devotee will discover new sounds and combinations of electronic equipment used to create space where none previously existed; the lover of avantegarde music will find herein an opus which reaches new heights in musical awareness; and who knows, but that Moonshine may become a hit single.

Edmund S. Barnett
October 21, 1978

The players for this piece:

  • Mark Cushing: Highland Bagpipes
  • Kathleen Doyle: Sansa Finger Piano
  • Dominick Labino: Glass Harmonica
  • William Penn: Finger Cymbals, Jaw Harp
  • Robert Rutman: Single String Stainless Steel Cello