R.I.P.: Nokie Edwards

This fine obit must be supplemented by me noting the Ventures, and Edwards in particular, changed my life in 1964 when my family got its first couch-sized stereo. Happened the installer had brought along The Ventures Play Telstar and The Lonely Bull (1963) to demonstrate the sound of the system. I had never heard speakers so large and never realized how much the detail of sounds could go into the impact of music. You had to have a certain kind of fluid technique and imagination to make pop instrumentals work. Wow. There was a lot more to music than I had realized.

Trio of Praises

I’ve done only one (very casual) Best of 2017 Albums list, so I’m not the least surprised that I just now ran across a couple of releases I should have added to it …


Bob Dylan, Triplicate (Columbia) (that’s what he gets for releasing vinyl-only so it could get lost behind a passel of Thelonious Monk albums I brought up for a marathon obit-tribute)

Kendrick Lamar, Damn (Alternative/Innerscope). Crap, I put a selection from this on my Best of the First Half of 2017 mixdisc, but this got switched to a different pile for some unknown reason. Anyway, terrific.

This morning I re-listened to the soundtrack of Linklater’s Boyhood for the first time in a very long while and again marveled at his skill for picking and sequencing songs, in particular making me love tracks (in context) from groups I don’t like at all (The Flaming Lips, for instance).

Stuff That Came Out of Speakers Today #61: “It Was 50 Years Ago Today …”

(I know, I know — UK release date.)

My current Sarge Pep vinyl is a replacement for a high-school copy that got lost in the shuffles (the undeniable tip-off is that it has a plastic inner sleeve). But I got it (I think) because I heard future LP editions would curtail the fold-out inner graphics, not because I played it all the time. Or even regularly — on the renewed turntable, this copy sounds as pure and pristine as brand-new. Since Sgt. P has become such a deathless cultural phenomenon, artistic assessment is irrelevant. But I will say two things: on June 1 (US release date) I will play some of these tunes in what I consider a superior format — The Beatles/1967-1970 anthology — and try to make it “Stuff That Came Out of Speakers #64.”

A Rare Thrill From the Vinyl Stacks

Usually when I come across an item I did not remember I owned, it’s an ominous indicator. If I forgot this entirely, how good can it be?

Well, on rare occasions, it can be all-out terrific.

I’m playing and putting away vinyl from the treasure boxes reserved outside the warehouse. One such life-enhancer is Julius Hemphil’s masterpiece, Dogon A. D. — sounds the best ever with the revamped turntable. I hold Hemphil just a few shades of genius behind Ornette (they went to the same high school in Texas) and his version of free improv has his own streaks of blues and soul, every time out.

So I’m putting Dogon into its place in the main vinyl shelves and — hello? what’s this? — Julius Arthur Hemphil and the Jah Band, Georgia Blue (Minor Music, 1984)????:

I didn’t remember this existed, let alone that I had a copy.

(That it includes “Dogon II” is the ultimate kicker.) A very fine concert record — a gift from Spring.

Beyond Elvis (Maybe Even B.B.), This Is My King

King Sunny Ade’s “Juju Music” (Mango, 1982) changed my life. But now, doing a straight-up comparison-listen with The Best of the Classic Years (Shanachie, 2003 — drawing on recordings made from 1967 through 1974), I can’t avoid hearing how watered-down the old LP is. Esp. regarding the abbreviated length of the jams. Never be without it, of course.

Number of King Sunny CDs in the collection: 14.

Stuff in the Air That Came Out of Speakers Today #50 (Vinyl Edition)

(mostly new, a bunch from New Zealand) (these are all first run-throughs)

Peter Jefferies/Jono Lonie, At Swim 2 Birds (Flying Nun, originally released 1987). Like the cult Surrealistic novel it’s named after, this is both wonderful in patches and overall rather too subtle for its own good. But it tickled me. Tricky, tail-eating little experiments featuring piano and guitars that never overstay. Too bad I know zilch about Peter Jefferies’s earlier outfit, This Kind of Punishment.

Milton Marsh, Monism (Manufactured, reissue of Strata-East, 1975). Whulp! — Another avant-big-band a bit in the Chicago mode, that I had never heard of. But Milton Marsh is a local and I was hypnotized enough by a first past that this is a strong candidate for one of my reissues of the year. Here’s some scoop.

Doprah, Wasting (Arch Hill). Supposedly in the Portishead mode, updated. Thing is, good trip-hop had snips of coiled barbed wire running underneath somewhere — this succumbs more to the persistent New Zealand tendency of mutter-whisper/mutter-whisper. The beats wake up on the second side and spooky begins to arm-wrestle somnolent. I’ll be back. But it would be unseemly to, you know, hurry back.

Boogarins, Manual (Other Music). Tough call, but I’m less psyched by this LP than I was by an earlier track this pair did that fit with the modern-LSD moods of the first half of this year. Will have to revisit.

God Bullies, Mama Womb Womb (Amphetamine Reptile, 1989). Woo-woo from Kalamazoo, collage-rockers in the manner of the Residents, but full of wild ‘n’ woolly punk rather than grunt-prog. Yeah, it’s a bit downhill after the band and album names — often amusing, never transcendent. Still, way out of print and I’m not getting rid of it.