Get Off To a Heavy Start

I’ve been playing the collection I’m a Freak Baby … on and off this week and am now certain that all the selections of the bands I knew beforehand are outstanding cuts. But I would push this most as a starter set for the curious youngster. Hear something that blows your brain out the window — explore some more (you’re not in my running pack if you can resist “Do It” by the Pink Fairies). A surprise throwback to the days of meticulous anthology boxes. (And I’m going to check out the debut album by Stray (S/T), which I gather is their consensus masterpiece and certainly kicks off the program with a wowser.)

R.I.P.: John Perry Barlow

Complicated guy. I thought his politics were a mess, and that he got conned by Tricky Dick Cheney (real limits of libertarianism exposed) though he later denounced the heartless creep and others — but why is this system better than being a progressive, man? (I know, I know, the wide-open West, etc etc.) Bob Weird is my least-favorite Grateful Dead member, but I will say he and Barlow did a lot to undercut the hippie-doofus image of the band with frequent passages about guns and violence and murder. There’s some worthy links here. I intend to grab his book in June.

Expert Witness Comment for the Week

The Beefheart is on order and I can’t think of another player who has done so much to preserve and honor his former leader. Also just picked up the Cuneiform tribute Lucas did back in 2009 (thoughts not formed yet).

And I’m weirdly alienated from the Stones in a way I never thought would be possible. I was actually charmed by the 2016 blues album the first time through (hey, it had shape and tone and kidz had become overly resistant to the old ferts) but by the fourth listen knew it was an empty exploitation. I’m sure the grade is correct, but there’s too much out there to listen to to acquire any more Mick and Keef.

Le Guin Nails the Charm of Ace Doubles

In the introduction to the first Volume of her Hainish Novels and Stories she recalls from 50 years earlier::

The first three novels in this volume were published by Donald A. Wollheim, the tough, reliable editor of Ace Books, in the Late-Pulpalignean Era, 1966 and ’67. The first two, Rocannon’s World and Planet of Exile, came out as Ace Doubles: two short novels by two different authors in one paperback cover, like two trains running towards each other on one track. When one train hit the other you turned the book upside down and started from the other end. And Ace Double was a very good deal for under a dollar. It was not a very good deal for the authors, or a brilliant debut in the publishing world, but it paid, it got you into print, it had readers.

And one of them was this high-schooler in Montana named Miles. I loved Ace Doubles because they were well-edited and of reliable quality. And even on my teeny budget I could get whatever ones appealed to me. Of course, the what didn’t occur to me is that, “Yikes, this low price means the writers didn’t get paid scrunt!” I didn’t read Le Guin until the unavoidable The Left Hand of Darkness, but some of my favorites included: James White Second Ending / Samuel R. Delany The Jewels of Aptor (1962);  Samuel R. Delany The Towers of Toron / Robert Moore Williams The Lunar Eye (1964); Fred Saberhagen The Golden People / Lan Wright Exile From Xanadu (1964); A. Bertram Chandler Space Mercenaries / Emil Petaja The Caves of Mars (1965); Jack Jardine and Julie Jardine (jointly as Howard L. Cory) The Mind Monsters / Philip K. Dick The Unteleported Man (1966); Lin Carter Tower Of The Medusa / George H. Smith Kar Kaballa (November 1969). I took a pretty extensive break from sci-fi from the time I graduated college until I moved to MA.

 

End of an Era for Cuneiform

One of my all-time favorite labels.  Intelligent, experimental, all high-quality even on the rare occasion the music wasn’t my thing. Thanks to all — esp. ace publicist Joyce — for generous promotional material and enlightening sounds for many years.

Message body

The Air Is Still and the Light Is Cool #23

Go To Blazes, any time … anywhere (East Side Digital, 1994)

Live shot

This album does not send you crashing and tumbling down the cliffs from the start, but by the time you get to track three, “Between the Eyes,” you understand these guys know how to rock and roll. And have a gift for hooks ‘n’ riffs that fit with solos, number after number. In the way people talk about things nowadays, I would invoke Neil Young and R.E.M., and claim a huge influence on Drive-By Truckers, but the whole history of pre-’90s rockabilly, country stomp and trippy roots-noise is here and operating. Also, the persona Go To Blazes presents is appealing and gains layers as the album goes on. Out of control but not reckless, lovelorn but not whimpering or grunting. And the program! I’m particularly fond of songs that link one to another, and any time … anywhere does not falter. Plus — terrific cover photo. Plus plus — invokes Jason Robards.

Band history.