Bootleg Bin: Festival Actuel

In October 1969 — two and a half months after Woodstock — the rock festival was at its peak. Eclectic festivals were the norm. So it was then that the French indie/jazz music mag Actuel planned to sponsor a five-day show in Paris. Oddly, they chose Frank Zappa to serve as emcee. Speaking no French,

Words Have Consequences

When a writer’s work gains a certain degree of visibility, an interesting thing sometimes happens. The artists getting reviewed and/or profiled often contact the writer to give feedback. This happens more often than you might expect. Owing to the ease of communication afforded by the intertubes, it’s easy for an artist to find out when

Album Review: Mangrove – Beyond Reality

Gentle, pastoral guitar picking starts off the epic-length “Daydreamers’ Nightmare” on Beyond Reality, the latest from Dutch progressive outfit Mangrove. An airy synth line doubles the melodic phrase, and then — as prog is wont to do — the rest of the band thunders in, and a soaring electric guitar lead is laid atop the

DVD Review: Blank Generation

Johny Lydon (née Rotten) used to end Sex Pistols concerts by sneering this question to the crowd: “Ever feel like you’ve been cheated?” You might, if you spend eighty minutes watching the 1980 film Blank Generation, starring Richard Hell. One individual who’s in a position to have authority on the subject calls Blank Generation a

Album Review: The Apples in Stereo – Travellers in Space and Time

It would be too easy to dismiss The Apples in Stereo simply as sonic tricksters, as, fun trick noisemakers, so to speak. Or to peg them as retro-revivalists. But that would sell them short. On Travellers in Space and Time the group certainly trades in pop confections, but they’re delivered with heart and muscle. And,

Album Review: Paul Revere and the Raiders – The Complete Columbia Singles

On the back-cover liner notes of the 1967 album The Spirit of ’67 by Paul Revere and the Raiders, publicist and bon vivant Derek Taylor wrote these prophetic words: “They are very good. And they are also very successful. Which is not always the same thing.” Knowingly or not Taylor (former press agent for no

Album Review: Jason and the Scorchers – Halcyon Times

When Jason Ringenberg and his merry band of men (the Scorchers) came out with their debut EP Fervor in 1983, it was a breath of fresh air (or a kick in the ass; take your pick) to the music scene. Other bands had tried to bridge the gaps between country and rock, and with various

Busy Doin’ Nothing

Well, not really. Not at all. I’m busy with a bunch of interviews, and with giving critical listens/watches to a stack of cool stuff. Each will be detailed and recommended in its turn, and soon. Here’s some of what’s coming in the next few days: Beyond Reality, the latest album (out now) from Dutch progressive

Album Review: Various Artists – Looking Towards the Sky

Ember was a tiny, independent British label based in England. Primarily oriented toward singles, the label’s forays into album rock were limited. But during that incredibly fertile period of the late sixties and early 70s, Ember released some fascinating — and rarely-heard — music. A new compilation collects some of the best of that material.

Concert Review: The City Champs

Memphis soul trio The City Champs brought their southern-fried (mostly) instrumental sounds to Asheville NC’s Orange Peel on Saturday February 19. Opening for the North Mississippi Allstars, the City Champs turned out a half-hour plus of their subtly updated take on the stylings of Booker T & the MGs. While the trio’s debut album The