Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Sleep well, Rosa Parks.
So I received a fantastic mix cd from the right Rev. Frost of Spread the Good Word, who's celebratin' his birthday right about now (or sleeping it off...what's the time difference?). Man, the man sets the bar high. I'm trying to return the favor, but it's a struggle. What do you give a preacher who already has everything worth having? A Barbara Streisand mix? You know, in keeping with the horror theme?
In my search I reacquainted myself with one Mr. Jerry J. Nixon, straight outta pasttime New Mexico, via Britannia. Or maybe not. See, there's some suggestion that Mr. Nixon is a hoax, albeit a very good one. Voodoo Rhythm Records, the company responsible for the compilation of all his recordings from the "Quality Records" sessions, has been known to be a touch on the pranksterish side.
Here's what we're told in the liner notes: Nixon was born in England as Gerald Hall, committed a crime, joined the merchant marines, and migrated to Santa Fe, New Mexico, changing his name to Jerry J. Nixon in the process. He worked in a cardboard factory, drove a truck, joined the Communist Party, and recorded some great, lost rockabilly classics on the side. He died penniless. Sounds fascinating. Wow, a true unknown legend. Except for the fact that several music journalists around the area claim never to have heard of him, and that the places mentioned in his bio, including Quality Records and the Q recording studio, never existed. Voodoo even included an article from the Santa Fe News suggesting Nixon was a hoax. Which begs the question, why? Admittance, a sly wink, or marketing? I dunno.
All of this is pointless, of course, if the music aint no good, or comes across as a joke. Which it most certainly does not, good sir. No, it sounds like the real thing. Actually it sounds fucking great, revved up honkeybilly swinging through late-nite battered and sweaty jukejoints, urgent and untamed, filtered through just the right amount of sepia ageing. It's an album one imagines could only come from the mid-50's rock rebellion (apparently the only smoking gun, music-wise, is the organ, which may have been made too late to be on these recordings). If you like your rock'n'tonkin'billy "pure", without the ironic, tryin' too hard, I got a costume shtick, this is the sound hummin' in your head. Boogie in a time machine. "Red Sun" is the apocalyptic raveup one always dreamed could only be made in a canyon, and "Saturday Midnight Bop" should remind everyone of the good ole over the bra, under the bra fumbles of a bygone era. Speeding car races on back roads optional.
So, is it real? Yeah. The dates and facts may not match up, but the music does. Mr. Nixon, wherever and whoever you actually are, the 'Mountain salutes you.
Jerry J. Nixon: Saturday Midnight Bop (mp3)
Jerry J. Nixon: Red Sun (mp3)
Support your local hucksters, pranksters and barely existing record shops. Before they blow away.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Thanks for all the kind words and e-mails. Y'all are swell.
Duane Eddy and Dick Dale seem to get the most attention,these days, of the myriad of instrumental geetar slingers of the 50's and 60's. And fair enough, but I'd add Link Wray to that list...make it a trinity. While Eddy is the sound of the deserts echoing off sand and canyons, and Dale takes on the pulse and flow of the vastest of oceans, Wray's is equally the space between the white lines of a southern backroad and the graffiti-strewn walls of a big city alley, all revved up speed and menace. Part of the genius of the Link Wray sound has to be credited to his brother, "Ray Vernon", whose studio wizardry on the cheap, and fascination with compression, helped forge the signature Link Wray tone, claustrophobic and dangerous, not safe for children. Hot rod races and gang wars. Straight outta D.C..
Link looked the part, too, rockin' the leather jacket like an early Ramone, he was punk 10 years before the Sonics, and certainly less contrived than the Velvet Underground. With Hasil Adkins, Link is owed a debt of gratitude from grease and trash rock labels like Norton (which has released a few Wray recordings), In the Red, and Sympathy for the Record Industry.
Since most are at least passingly familiar with his bigger "hits" ("Rumble" and "Rawhide" in particular), I thought I'd pull off a couple of tracks from the Ace Records collection, "Law of the Jungle" , which contains Wray's Swan Records sides and unreleased tracks. Of particular note is the rare vocal on "Soul Train" (not the one you think it is).
Link Wray: Soul Train (mp3)
Link Wray: Return of the Birdland (mp3)
Support your local record shop
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Well. If you happened, for whatever reason, to be downtown Chicago on Friday morning and spotted an astonishingly beautiful woman in a weddin' dress followed by a rather shlumpy, shaggy headed fella looking extremely uncomfortable in a suit, heading toward the county court house, that'd probably have been me and the Missus. Yup, Missus. The Mountain done done it. Shackles and chains, 'n' all dat (and sorry to my legions of adoring female fans). Don't worry if you weren't invited, we didn't even bring the cat. It was a beautiful three minute ceremony, followed by an excruciating train trip to a destination to be referred to in a future post.
I really don't understand the hatred that folks have for Neil Diamond. I mean, I get that the man can venture into cheese at the drop of a hat, and that damn song about coming to America is a bit much, but every artist has their low point (even Tom Waits got talked into duetting with Bette Midler...would've liked to have heard that conversation). Ummm...ok, there's that Jonathan Livingston Seagull thing too. Alright, so Diamond asks for some of the scorn he gets. And then there's the contingent who loooove Neil, in an ironic hipster fashion. Neil Diamond on a trucker hat or something. Ah, the kids just keepin' it real.
But see, I'm a fan cuz the man is one of the best damn songwriters you've ever heard. Really. It's all well and good and modern to write wordy, tuneless manifestos on the plight of the downtrodden, or Raymond Carveresque slices of daily tedium, but does it make you want to sing along? Can the magazine cover band of choice make an entire bar full of cliques and clans stop what they're doing and sing along? No? Neil Diamond can. I've seen it, and not just in the movies. I don't even have to scrawl out the obscenely large list of songs by Diamond that have become part of our musical backdrop. You already know all the songs. Whether you're snickering or lustily agreeing. And the man, live, puts on a fucking show. You get what you pay for, even if the bloomers thrown up onstage are a little larger than they were 30 years ago. Sweat and sweet sweet Caroline.
So what the hell does Neil Diamond have to do with what we normally listen to here at the 'Mountain. Twofold: an infrequent series of posts about musicians that you may or may not be surprised that we like, and a farewell to one of my favorite songs. Maybe one of Diamond's most haunting tunes. Johnny Cash, who knows a bit about songwriting was fond of the song, too, though his take carries a different level of sadness.
Neil Diamond: Solitary Man (mp3)
Johnny Cash: Solitary Man (mp3)
Support your local Justice of the Peace.
Friday, October 14, 2005
The 'Mountain aint been real good about keeping it's long ago promise for...err...mountains of truckin' music. Wellll, shit, gotta change that. Yup, more road weary tales for all y'all little shavers. Roll on.
Dale Watson is a modern fella with an old diesel soul,a hard honkytonkin' mothertrucker with no love for Nashville's assembly line cream of the crap. Like fellow traveler Wayne Hancock, Watson's music has the history of country stamped in dust all over his catalogue. Naturally, he don't sell a whole lot rekkids. Shame. If yr gonna start with one (and you really should start), the 'Mountain recommends The Truckin' Sessions. For obvious reasons.
If you've been comin' here for any length of time, and still don't know or worship Dave Dudley, I'm a failure.
Giddyup and Go:
Dale Watson: Good Luck 'n' Good Truckin' Tonite (mp3)
Dave Dudley: I Want a Woman With Handles (mp3)
Eat at yr local truck stop.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
They fall. Sometimes they are honored and revered. Sometimes they disappear, a mere footnote in history, musical history. Sometimes memory fades. This world stinks of death and forgetting.
Paul "Wine" Jones died the other day. Don't know if you know him or not. If you've ever caught a Fat Possum caravan, you've seen him....usually playing second or first on a loaded bill. He was the youngest of the Fat Possum core stable...the blues men. He had this...energy, playing standing up, guitar in hand, and a fullass band behind him, working a southern pimp hat. He moved. I've probably seen Paul Jones live more than any other musician. Every goddamn time 'Possum sent out a tour, he seemed to be on it. In the shadows, though. Folks wanted to see the legends...the R.L.'s, the T-Model Fords. But it was Jones who shook their asses, made them want to dance. He was a fantastic singer, shaking off the tradition of Mississippi hill blues to incorporate a little Chicago in the mix. His voice ...red wine in a paper bag. Raw and sweet, with a high kick.
At 59, surrounded by gods, he never had a chance to develop the legacy his labelmates had. Not enough time, and who was listening?
I don't know who's going to remember. A few short obits here and there, a blogger shooting off in space, in the dark. Then gone. Joining a funeral parade of ghosts we forgot we had.
Paul "Wine" Jones: My Baby Got Drunk (mp3)
Paul "Wine" Jones: Diggin' Mama's Taters (mp3)
Friday, October 07, 2005
Trash, trash, trash, trash, trash. What's the difference between trash and garage? What the hell am I talking about? I dunno. But I know it when I hear it.
I know I've already recently posted about another Jack Oblivion group (see the August 29th post for full fanboy love), but I can't seem to take his Jack O. & the Tearjerkers disc, "Don't Throw Your Love Away" out of my cd player. It aint stuck, I just aint willin' to stop listening (blatant lie of course. I had to take it out to load it up to the server. All men are liars). This well may be the album to beat this year, so far as the Mountain's top ten is concerned. Aw, I'm just gushin' here. It's a Memphis soul stew trashjunk frenzy of Exile outtake grease drippings and leering joyous menace. Unlike a recent album by another Jack, you can sing along without feeling like a 12 year old discovering his first hard on. Nah, this Jack knows what to do with it. And he's going to take you down to the corner with him. Spin won't review it, radio won't play it, and ipod won't be using it in a commercial. That should give you an idea how good it is. It's rock'n'roll. Remember that?
Jack O. and the Tearjerkers: Mad Dog 20/20 (mp3)
Support yr local trashmen.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
How does one know when they've jumped the shark? Is this my moment, or has it happened already. Was it the KLF post? Maybe the fringe rock thing was overextended (though I've got another round planned for next month). Couldn't be the Christmas thing last year (that's coming back too), could it? Maybe somebody (and I aint mentionin' no names) needs to freakin' post more often. Regardless, I'm gonna refocus and hopefully get to the good stuff both of you stop here for.
Side note. Fixed a couple of links on the sidebar...Fire of Love is now Buzz the Jerk, and Mr. Barf's...is now The New Thematic! Their old site names are now porn sites. So, you know, do what you want with that. Also added Long Sought Home, a blog of old timey tunes about death, dyin', and the afterlife. Check it out.
Hoyt Axton is known primarily as the composer of "Joy to the World" and "The Pusher". Wait, come back, a man's gotta pay his bills. He's a big bear of a man with a baritone country drawl to match. Axton's best songs are his country songs, writing for himself or for fellow travelers like Arlo Guthrie in his early short song period. Guthrie's cover of "Lightnin' Bar Blues" is a particular transcendent moment. If you look at his early album covers, there was a definite attempt at casting Hoyt as a type of traveling hobo/Woody Guthrie type, and the songs matched the attempt. Axton's a fantastic songwriter, his wry observations bordering often on humorous, but never gimmicky, with flashes of the more serious side never far away. I have no explanation for "Joy to the World", though. Sorry.
So here's a sloppy, hobo ragtime band meets electric Bob Dylan version of Axton doing his "Lightnin' Bar Blues" ("When I die don't cry for me, Don't bury me at all, Place my livin', laughin', lovin' bones, In a jar of alcohol, Hundred proof alcohol"). And since this is the Mountain and Axton's a country singer, no career would be properly represented here without a truckin' song.
Hoyt Axton: Lightnin' Bar Blues (mp3)
Hoyt Axton: Gotta Keep Rollin' (mp3)
Support your local grizzled music vet.