R.I.P.: Adam West

Never really escaped the Bat Prison. I sure went through a bunch of cycles about the TV show and the Batman character. I was amused by it until it became a hit. I didn’t like the “campy” comics at all — they took off as I was transitioning to Marvel for good. And though Batman and Robin were everywhere, I felt too much of the time it was merely a new way to say “comic books are junk.” West had a good sense of humor about it all because on some level he was aware he simply couldn’t come up with a second act.

And after time, I agreed there was something damned weird about Batman in general. The science and gadgets were window dressing — Frank Miller was on to something. Batman was, at bottom, a vigilante who had always had a vengeful and cruel streak. I suspected the police department he could work with also included Dick Tracey. So, valuable as they might be, I don’t have a lot of Batman in the back-room boxes. I’m more of a Plastic Man man.

Stuff in the Air That Came Out of Speakers Today #61

(After many partial plays of Rough Guide to Jug Band Blues.)

Mac Rebennack AKA Dr. John, Good Times in New Orleans 1958-1962 (Soul Jam, 2017) A collection of the good Dr.’s vintage studio work that I bought without remembering I had an earlier version of such a survey and played in an attempt to decide if I should ditch one or the other.

Khemmis, Hunted (Spin, 2016). Plugged by Motorhead head as something Doom fans should hear. I agree — fresh synthesis of everything Stoner and Doom from before without wretch-inducing lapses and, while songs are humorless, you can feel the love and comprehensive knowledge of the styles. Nothing feels long long long.

Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize Speech. Yep, as brilliant as everybody claims. Guy’s got a unique memory, seems to me — at my most credulous, I think he’s doing as much a bean-dump on the books as he is on his apprehension of rock, R&B and folk. These swirling spiels are what he retains and he polishes up only until it’s all in his own voice.

Dr. John, Storm Warning (The Early Sessions of Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack) (Jazzmine, 2004) See above. Well, chocomo fee nae nae — with a total 55 tracks between them (six or seven overlaps) the contrasting mood and texture of these collections makes them both worth keeping. The recent one has brighter, more detailed sound, this earlier one livelier mood and feels more like a Dr. John album.

Motorhead, Aftershock — Tour Edition (UDR, 2014). When I recently consulted the Motorhead head (see above) he said Aftershock was their best since the ’90s and said the live disc (“Best of the West Coast Tour 2014”) was either #1 or #2 of such programs. I donno about that, but it is exceptionally strong and highly recommended. The studio album is a deep–late-day triumph for Lemmy & crew — and the salute to him I’ve meant to do since the innocent days I thought his death would be the prime blow to the heart in 2016.

 

Stuff That Came Out of Speakers Today #64: The Best Beatles Album Ever

No question: The Beatles/ 1967-1970

Everbdys fuckd up sit down father rest you I say high and you say low doo–you–saaay-goodbye heyheylahheylaoh nobody the man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud take me away waiting children at feet Sunday creeping like a nun run Tuesday never Jude get her begin nah-nah-nah-naah been away so long I hardly knew the place take me to your Daddy’s farm I don’t know how somebody controlled you they bought and sold you (yeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeah) professor and Molly Jones Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face if you want some fun take thank you back to where you once belonged but she was another man get back Loretta to the love that has no past that done me good the man in the Mack Christ only trying to get us some peace when yer dead won’t take nothing but your soul nobody came here won’t be the same without you the smile is turning here come old flattop he got toe jam football hold your in his armchair you can feel something in the way she moves no other lover under the sea and when the night is cloudy rain into a paper cup with a million suns across the universe.

Stuff That Came Out of Speakers Today #63: Dr. Little, Meet Campbell Rebennack

(All vinyl.)

Little Milton, Chess Blues Master Series: Little Milton (Chess, 1976)

Dr. John the Night Tripper, Gris-gris (Atco, 1968)

Dr. John’s Gumbo (Atco, 1972)

Dr. John, In the Right Place (Atco, 1973)

You are a different person with different synapses as you listen to records over decades. I bought the Dr. John LPs starting in 1972 with the first two (I think I also got Remedies, which I’m very sorry has vanished over the years). I could sense I didn’t quite geddit. For a long time I thought Gris-gris was one of those albums you were “supposed” to like but was actually a mess. (Except for “I Walk on Guilded Splinters,” which i thought was a unique streak of rock-psyche, without understanding the sources at all.) Now, In the Right Place turned me around about the guy and pulled me closer to a fundamental understanding of New Orleans. I played the hell out of it (even with the modern-miracle turntable, it sounds quite worn) and decided it was more evidence that wherever this guy was coming from, I needed to get hip.

Little Milton’s Chess Blues Master double LP (these are consistently strong collections that feature wonderful, not-the-usual cover art by Nick Caruso) was one of the last blowout discoveries I made in Missoula and I played for everyone who would listen and decided I was a serious Little Milton advocate. I’ve never heard another release by him I like as much (though Waiting for Little Milton on Stax does have one of the all-time jacket art). I played a bunch of other Milton in this listen session and he seems more and more minor and derivative to me (his debts to BB King get in the way a lot — his guitar can be powerful tearing up the open field, though). But oh, man — track down that Chess Blues Master set for unmatched tough sound and selection/sequence by Dan Nooger and Aaron Fuchs.

Now my point with Dr. john — though I’m not going into detail — is the opposite. I hear more and more in him — sail past his indulgences — with more pleasure than I did as a callow youth. And the short answer is that i understand districts more about New Orleans. How it talks several languages specific to the place. How it regards time. How kids form bands instead of pick-up basketball teams. How performances mesh and mess with ritual.

As a NO native whispered to me as we watched Dr.John cast the hoodoo one night, “If you don’t understand New Orleans, this part doesn’t make any sense.”

Roma Holiday #2 — Music

Those expecting a list of exciting Italian bands are gonna be let down here. I sensed too much of a disconnect to ask the operators at the couple of music stores we found to recommend locals to me (’cause at about 18 Euros and up they could be spendy mistakes). There was the outfit I saw in a video on hotel TV doing what at first exposure sounded like a class roots-punk number where I stupidly failed to write down their name and the tune was something like “Never Expected This To Happen,” and I couldn’t track ’em down — which may mean I was wrong and they’re minor.

First I would like to re-iterate a series I mentioned before because so much of the general soundtrack of Rome is still rooted in film scores from the ’50s and ’60s — the big pick for me would be the Film Noir set (the final disc is a genius combination).

((Much Better than I remembered — “The Man With the Golden Arm.” Which reminds me that Frank Sinatra and (((OMG))) Walt Disney are way way more prominent in Roma streets than, well, Boston, anyway. Approaching Anaheim. I was crushed to discover that the one Walt Item I wanted to find in Rome did not exist any more. The single explicitly Italian character in the classic Disney Cannon was Magica De Spell, a sexy witch-duck who lived on the slopes of Mt.Vesuvius, created by Carl Barks for Uncle Scrooge Comics as an explicit acknowledgement of Disney popularity in Italy. Her conflicts with Scrooge are some of Barks’ best and I was crushed I couldn’t score a souvenir.))

GoGo Penguin, Man Made Object (Blue Note).

Air France has an outstanding in-flight video-audio program even for proles (well, an entertaining six hours worth, anyway — there was little for me on the return trip). Bouncy, jouncy, consistent and full of ideas (if too much keyboard maybe) , GoGo Penguin was a surprise and a treat and it holds up more than fine back in the USRRA.

Carl Craig, Versus (Infine & Planet E)

Featuring

Francesco Tristano

Les Siecles Orchestra

Conducted by Francoise-Xavier Roth

Orchestral collaboration with techno-house. “Dubious” would be a kind description, right? Except I’m telling you that this project, worked on for 10 years apparently, with final tweaks by Craig himself, clicks on every track. You may dance in your head or on the floor. I’m a serious Craig fan who thinks he has a profound understanding of waves of rhythm and volume, sensuous and mentally engaging at once. And this big undertaking is one of his best.

 

Roma Holiday #1 — Air France

About 12 years ago, we got bumped up to business class or some such when we flew Air France to Paris and they did a seat-assignment screw-up. This was flying like I dreamed of as a kid and appreciated as an adult. The food was gourmet. You got champagne appetizer and refills on white and red with the meal. The stewards were uniformly attendant and funny. There was a freakin’ grown-ups bar in the back where you could drink all the wine you wanted including cognac!

So we stuck with them for this trip to Rome. Not the same outfit, or at least not the same for what we paid for. Food was good not great on the way out, pretty damn good on the way back (and hey, they serve you meals like a civilized operation, not like US lines that remind you you’re barely above bums who pay to ride on the boxcars). But the bar in the back consisted of soft drinks and a couple snacks and, oh, sure, you could buy more booze.

So, then catastrophe — the flight was 15 minutes late arriving (nothing, usually) the connection to the flight to Rome was a freakin’ 20-minute epic trek through CDG Airport and because of G7 there was double ID-checkpoint with a mere two agents for hordes of passengers (one woman shrieked and hollered and got let though — she had the right idea if a disgusting personality).

Short answer — the plane to Rome took off without a bunch of us. Now, if I wanna waste four hours with my beloved D in an airport, CDG Paris would be on the short list (Air France did buy us a meal). But when yer already so tired you can’t stand up, the trip is getting off to a bad start.

We must have seemed like zombies when we finally arrived later than hell at the hotel. The driver from the airport was funny and a good introduction to Italian caper-personalities. (He gave us a delicious licorice-coffee candy that we were never able to find anywhere.)