Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Playing with Musical Matches

I had an April Fools joke up my sleeve yesterday, that I've actually been sitting on for a year or two. The day before Donovan was born six years ago, Harp was still in existence and Fred fooled a lot of people into believing that Captain Beefheart had come out of retirement and was agreeing to tour. Pretty brilliant trick, it was, and not at all clear as a joke until you got to the photo credit, which read "A.P. Rilfool." Now every year, I think that I should do something along the lines of that trick. My idea isn't as wide ranging, but maybe I'll get it together next year. I had to write a couple reviews yesterday and by the time I had a moment for the joke, it felt too late in the day.

File this under "You Should Have Known Better": At the record fair that I mentioned in the last post, I picked up a copy of Chicago Transit Authority which a friend of mine had for $1. I recall moments on that album (I checked it out of the library when I was about 10) that were a little edgy, which a good friend has confirmed. "Free Form Guitar" consists of seven minutes of guitar feedback, going for a sort of homage to Jimi Hendrix. Then a few years ago, I heard the beginning of another song from the album (missed the title) that almost sounded like a Stooges riff, with fuzzy bass. Therefore, I've maintained a "one of these day, I'll check it out again" feeling about it.

Well I was right about "Free Form Guitar." Pretty noisy and good. It's followed by the mystery song, "South California Purples," which has a bass-line similar to "Dirt" but the comparison ends there. Once the horns kick in with all that bwah bwah bwaaaaah it looses something. Side Four begins with a recording made at the 1968 Democratic Convention (you know, the one w/all the rioting) and the chant "The whole world's watching" segues into the bassline of the next song ... which bottoms out when Peter Cetera starts singing. If he had only stuck with bass and kept his mouth shut, things would've been great because his basslines are pretty heavy.

I don't have a problem with a limited amount of Chicago's early stuff beyond that album. So when I was at the folks' house for Easter Sunday, I remembered that we once had a copy of Chicago II with one record missing. I think I bought it at a flea market and was bummed that the lost LP had "25 or 6 to 4" on it. But it does have "Make Me Smile," which has sounded pretty good recently when it's come on at work. When you're up close and personal with that song, it still sounds pretty flaccid, drum breaks aside. Not only that, it's part of a side-long suite, "Ballad of a Girl from Buchannon," which my bandmate/Buckhannon, WV native Aimee informed me, is spelled wrong. The final chorus of "Make Me Smile" doesn't actually come until the end of the side, after it's gone through a few more instrumental, Maynard-Ferguson-meets-prog sections, past "Colour My World" into the last chorus and a closing that sounds like some t.v. show theme.

Like I said, I should've known better. I'm kind of curious to hear the other side of the record, but not too curious.

1 comment:

Ben Strauss said...

Hey Mike Shanley! My name is Ben Strauss and I am a jazz studies masters student at the University of Northern Colorado. I am doing a biography on Eric Kloss for my masters thesis. Do you think you could help me out? my email adress is bstrauss23@gmail.com. Thanks!