Rhythm and Views
MARCH 8, 1999:
DURING THE DECADE between 1968 and 1978, Can teased and provoked the boundaries of musical dogma, inventing and discovering sounds that were as new as they were unique, in a spirit that placed them at the forefront of a trscal Bussy in his '89 biography The Can Book. And while it was never the German group's intention to be anything but "of" its time, a collective soul of each player's wildly disparate influences, history does allow latitude for replacing "of" with "ahead"--as the forthcoming Can Box (comprising a live 2-CD set, a live/documentary video and a book commissioned by the band) will pay ample new testimony for what hardcore fans like Bussy and groups like Public Image, Material, Sonic Youth, and Stereolab have previously given depositions.
Meanwhile, archive hounds have been busy in the vaults, and this musically impressive if structurally flawed collection is one piece of the documentation. A 35-minute, 1972 BBC recording, "Up The Bakerloo," is a mantra-like exercise in aural hypnosis, its dynamics rising and cresting, then falling back almost to nothing, only to find the band rebuilding over and over. And "Entropy," live in Germany circa 1970, is an aggressive psychedelic improv, marred only by the source tape's scratchy, hissy sound. A trio of bona fide studio rarities also suffers a bit sonically. Two early B-sides appear to have been taken from vinyl sources, and the unreleased "Little Star," otherwise brilliant and featuring a loony recitation from original vocalist Malcolm Mooney, is lacking in high end. For collectors only, perhaps, but in no way a bad investment.
BACK IN THE late '70s, Parliament-Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell pursued a side project with a handful of New York musicians, the result suggesting that Worrell's status as No. 3 Funkadelic (behind George Clinton and Bootsy Collins) may be an inaccuracy due to Worrell's less flamboyant stage presence. This, as the liner notes say, is the closest thing to the long lost P-Funk album that you'll ever hear. In fact, a few of the grooves, like "The Bantu Strut," are even nastier than some Funkadelic cuts making it onto the band's best-of compilations. There are well over 60 Funkadelic-related CDs available, and this is one of the grittiest, recorded and now re-released, surprisingly, by a label mostly known for its '60s folk music.
Last Night On Earth
THE OLD PUEBLO is blessed with a handful of original acts that break away from the traditional line-up. Crawdaddy-O may seem like a tough sell: a band with no guitarist or keyboards, just drums and horns. But the band pulls it off with style and finesse.
On their second CD release, Last Night on Earth, the quintet proves it has the necessary ingredients for success. Drummer Jimmy Carr takes on most of the lead vocal duties, which were practically non-existent on their self-titled debut CD. From the zany polka-esque "Fly Me to the Moon" to the nostalgic final track "I Remember the Time," Carr exhibits a variety of vocal styles, from a swingin' Setzer croon to a wailin' Waites growl.
It's the group effort on background vocals that make some of the songs stick out, though. The second cut is a swing-thing entitled "Jane's Got Funky Shoes," and it's one of my favorite songs from the CD. (This song also appears on the TAMMIES compilation Cantankerous, on Epiphany.)
The brass band blesses us with a very humorous Blue Oyster Cult cover as their third selection, when Fruitpie takes over the lead vocal chores for their wacky rendition of "Godzilla." Marco Rosano gets a turn at the mic on another solid original, the semi-autobiographical "Bagel Man." There are a number of fabulous tracks that go back to their swingin' New Orleans Mardi Gras poly-ethnic neo-Dixieland slam jammin', like "One Happy Day" and "Hop House Hullabaloo." But the lyrics of songs like "Peer Pressure," "Arkansas Beauty Queen" and the bittersweet "Bones the Clown" are more memorable.
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