Monthly Archives: November 2015

Thrak For My Daddyo… The THRAK Box Set Reviewed

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King Crimson’s fifth touring incarnation, the “double trio” formation, coalesced in 1994 and gigged until 1996. After 1997 rehearsals in Nashville were derailed by recurrent friction between Robert Fripp and Bill Buford, the band “frakctalised” into four “Projekcts”, sub-groups charged with evolving repertoire for “The Greater Krim”… which, in the event, declined to reassemble itself.

From this brief period in Crimson history Fripp managed to conjure the mini-album Vrooom (which helped to finance…)… the fully fledged album Thrak… several live recordings and a couple of live DVDs, plus various recordings of The Projekcts (all of these released generally and / or via the Crimson Collectors’ Club.) Not a bad haul from a short-lived band that set itself ambitious aims and never really fulfilled them. But you ain’t heard nothing yet…

Epic Crimson box sets have become de rigour in recent pre-Xmas release slates. Ozymandias is still getting his head around the Larks’ Tongues, Road To Red and Starless – Live In Europe collections. Now the Thrak box has arrived with a resounding thwak on the Boot Room welcome mat, comprising 16 (CD, DVD and BD) Discs, a 40 page glossy booklet, posters and sundry bits of other memorabilia. The musical content presents a bewildering array of material in various mixes and formats, conflating new and previously available stuff, remade and remodelled according to the kaleidoscopic vision of Fripp and DGM eminence gris Dave Singleton. The live footage comprises a newly discovered gig from San Francisco’s Warfield Theatre (26.06.95) together with the band’s dates at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo  (05/06.10.95), the latter looking suspiciously like what has already been released on the Deja Vrooom DVD (though with less of the interactive features boasted by that disc, rather more vaseline on the lens and perhaps a more frenetic assemblage of shots… dunno, will have to find time to do a proper compare-and-contrast.)

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So far I’ve managed to leaf through the booklet and ephemera while listening to the 5.1 Blu-ray audio mix of Thrak, masterminded by current Crim Jakko Jakszyk. As is always the way with any surround sound mix worth its sonic salt, any amount of previously unnoticed subtleties were revealed to me. Sterling work, Mr Jakszyk! When the opportunity presents itself, I’ll commence the daunting task of consuming the rest of this box by listening to Jurassikc Thrak, a disc of the eponymous album as work-in-progress (which I doubt will top… could anything ever top?… the corresponding platter on the Larks’ Tongues box.) Then I’ll be checking out ATTAKcATHRAK, Singleton’s sequel to the improv montage THRaKaTTaK (1996), a record which I’ve only revisited when “in the mood” for it… i.e. hardly ever.

So that’s going to be a considerable investment of time (and has already been a not inconsiderable investment of money) in what has always been one of my least favourite King Crimson line-ups. Jeez, that Fripp guy could sell snow to frickin’ eskimos…

This review previously appeared on the now defunct Bootroom Of Ozymandias blog… and yes, I’m still working my way through the THRAK box!

Categories: Box Sets | 1 Comment

Wacks For My Daddyo… HOT WACKS (15th Edition) Reviewed

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The Boot Room team’s relentless rooting through second hand stores has thrown up many items of interest, including most recently the one under consideration here – Kurt Glemser’s Hot Wacks Book XI, glommed from a local Oxfam shop. Mr Glemser was (and hopefully still is) an inhabitant of Kitchener, Ontario, from where he indulged his obsession with bootlegs via two samizdat publications, the self-explanatory Bootlegs (March 1973) and Underground Sounds (October ’74). From there it was a natural progression to the ‘zine Hot Wacks Quarterly, allegedly regarded by many collectors as “the bootleg bible.” Possibly in a dispute over such distinctions, Kurt subsequently became embroiled in a slanging match with rival ROIO authority Clinton Heylin, author of The Great White Wonders. As well as being packed with bootleg poop, HWQ enticed its readers with cover pictorials of the sexiest female rockers it could round up. That publication mutated into the less frequent Hot Wacks Book, this 15th edition of which (a Blue Flake production comprising upwards of 350 perfect bound A5, pages) saw the light of day in December 1985.

For those of us who’ve missed editions 1-10 and indeed the whole run of HWQ, it’s not immediately apparent whether the records in here are a bunch of addenda to stuff that Mr Glemser covered previously or the latest incarnation of an ongoing, consolidated list. Obviously it’s not exactly up to date in 2015.  “Remember this is a discography not a catalog…” warns KG from his vantage point somewhere in 1985: “Most of the records are long out of circulation and not available from the usual bootleg sources” No foolin’… much bootleg material has flown down the download lines since then… sheesh, there aren’t even any CDs in here! And some of these releases are certainly… er, “of their time”, including no less than five Adam And The Ants (!) efforts. Which is not to say that the usual suspects don’t hog most of HWBXI’s pages… 32 of them are devoted to The Rolling Stones, 28 to The Fab Four, while The Zim cops Bronze with 18… Elvis ties with The Boss at 12 pages, Led Zep manage a disappointing 9 and Zappa a surprisingly scant 8… The Floyd and The ‘Oo manage a meagre 6 each and Hendrix can only muster 5. The small section devoted to Genesis boots comes up surprisingly short on Lamb Lies Down shows and there are a lot of them around these days… believe me, I once listened to 25 of them in a very condensed time frame. If your OCD doesn’t stretch to that, see if you can pick up a copy (maybe from your local Oxfam shop?) of Paul Russell’s Play Me My Song: Genesis – A Live Guide 1969-75 to get some idea of just how many shows were recorded from that tour.

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Information on each record is skimpy. Typically you get the album title, track listing, catalogue number (if applicable), performance venue / date and sound quality ratings. The names of the acts could have done with being printed in larger type face for ease of use. Each act’s entries are listed alphabetically by title when by gig date would have been more user-friendly (I know that the dating on these things is not necessarily super reliable, but the titling of them wasn’t exactly hard and fast, either.) Inevitably, certain typos leap out at you (Who are “Cheap Tricks” when they’re at home… or anywhere else for that matter?) Illustrations are scarcer then hen’s teeth with, regrettably, precisely none of the sexy minxes who used to adorn the covers of HWQ in evidence here. Speaking of which, West Midlands readers might well be having a ribald laugh over the title which Mr Gleamer awarded to his life’s work… or does the same venereal vernacular apply over in Kitchener, Ontario?

Glemser says that the best bootlegs were inseparable from official product but there’s probably very little likelihood that anyone will ever confuse Dead Fucking Bollocks (KC 1710), a Japanese bootleg of King Crimson’s September 1969 Chesterfield appearance (mis-dated into the bargain) with DGM’s legit release of the same material as part of the Epitaph box set. Actually, I wouldn’t take much persuading that Fuck Off (E.F. OX556) was an official Motorhead release… but it turns out to be another boot.

The Doors’ listing omits the well-known Jim / Jimi / Johnny / Buddy jam Woke Up This Morning And Found Myself Dead but includes the equally (dis)respectful title Get Fat And Die, not to mention the enticing Leather Pants In Denmark. Glemser says that the best bootlegs were inseparable from official product but there’s probably very little likelihood that anyone will ever confuse Dead Fucking Bollocks (KC 1710), a Japanese bootleg of King Crimson’s September 1969 Chesterfield appearance (mis-dated into the bargain) with DGM’s legit release of the same material as part of the Epitaph box set. Actually, I wouldn’t take much persuading that Fuck Off (E.F. OX556) was an official Motorhead release… but it turns out to be another boot.

Zappa oddities include Announcing To All Disc Jockeys – The All New Dynamic Duo (US LTD VC5236), Frank’s unexpected (to say the least) collaboration with Burt “Boy Wonder” Ward and How Much Rot Can You Handle (KB 1041), a good question for any reader of this book, even if they did leave off the question mark.  Twenty Years Of Frank Zappa (MUD SHARK MZ4801-4812) was apparently a 12 disc box set that came with a 16 page booklet. 1,000 copies were pressed, over 50% of them being seized when the Zappa family took exception. It was liberties such as these that led Frank into his much imitated “beat the boots” campaign of releasing officially endorsed bootlegs (though Robert Fripp was, as so often, first out of the traps with this tactic, see King Crimson’s Earthbound in 1972.)

Kurt tries to put the reader right where he can, caveat emptoring re cavalier branding such as Mott The Hoople Live With David Bowie (LTD1973): “Bowie does not appear on the LP, nor do the songs Midnight Lady, All The Young Dudes and Honky Tonk Women (though) listed on the cover…” (apart from that, very accurate!) and delivers a deadbeat alert about some delinquent ‘zine distributor in Edinburgh who never coughed up (Oz suffered from precisely such sharp practice shenanigans in his former incarnation as a horror fanzine publisher.)

One final random flick reveals such oddities as Groucho Marx’s I Never Kissed An Ugly Woman (TAKRL 1984) and David Cassidy & The Partridge Family – Rarities (SG-007/8). Right, I think I’ve finally sorted out The Prog Consultant’s Christmas present…

This review previously appeared on the now defunct Bootroom Of Ozymandias blog.

Categories: Book Reviews | 2 Comments

A Poorly Promoted Gig In A Badly Air Conditioned Venue Is Fast And Bulbous… Got Me? THE MAGIC BAND Live Review

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Ozymandias couldn’t be more chuffed than to turn over a corner of The Boot Room to this guest review of The Magic Band gig at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms (04.11.15), penned by the mighty Citrus Penguin himself. Take it away, CP…

So I woke up Monday morning, 2nd of November, I checked my phone for emails and the first thing that popped up at the top of my inbox was one from The Rescue Rooms in Nottingham saying “See The Magic Band in Nottingham”… surely they can’t mean THE Magic Band? They weren’t lying, I couldnt believe it. After missing them a couple of years ago because I was too young, I knew this was my last chance to catch even a glimpse into the live spirit of Captain Beefheart. Turns out the gig is in 2 days time. I ran to the bus stop and hurried into the town centre, going round every record shop asking if they sell tickets. After purchasing them from The Music Exchange, I let go a massive sigh of relief.

Wednesday 4th of November, I arrive at The Rescue Rooms early with a big wad of money I drew out, eager for merchandise (okay it was only £40 but hey, that’s a lot for someone from Arnold). The main hall only had about 10 people there waiting patiently for Drumbo and his new recruits to play. I go up to the merchandise stall and purchase a tour shirt and a live CD, the guy behind the stall turns to me and says: “Welcome to the first night of the tour, you’re the first person to own this shirt” which was a nice touch along with the glowing hawk eyes from people aged from 40-70 staring down at my young presence as if I am not worthy because of my age… we’ll see about that. So I wait at the barrier eagerly anticipating the band’s arrival arrive at half 8. I turn round and see a poster on the wall that read “The Magic Band will perform 2 sets tonight, there will be no support” I knew before they even came on this was going to be gig to remember. As I’m writing this review I feel slightly embarrassed by the fact that although I knew most of the songs played, the names slip my mind, so I apologise in advance. The sheer excitement prevented me from remembering words, thats my excuse. May I also mention that Rockette Morton was not present as he is very ill at the moment… we wish him good health.

Half 8 arrives, the new Magic Band walk onstage. Line up includes an incredible new drummer, two guitar players, one playing standard 6 string slide, the other playing an 8 string guitar. Instead of a bassist they had a keyboard player using a MIDI keyboard to recreate bass sounds and generate weird loops. As Drumbo enters the stage, the room suddenly seems a great deal fuller. His presence is respected by everyone, half the front row were bowing to him. “WE ARE THE MAGIC BAND, AND WE PLAY THE MUSIC OF CAPTAIN BEEFHEART!” screamed Drumbo as he punched his fist in the air, the whole band coming in all at the same time. My goosebumps were trying to jump out my skin with joy. As they pace viciously and powerfully through the first track, they soon jump into Beefheart’s breakthrough single “Diddy Wah Diddy”, Drumbo abusing the harmonica with love all the way through, pure blues joy. Occasionally he picked up his oboe (which he can actually play, very well), adding a nice touch and as soon you saw it, you instantly wanted Captain Beefheart to be there holding it to his face wearing his infamous trout mask.

Pacing through Beefheart classics such as “Nowadays A Womens Gotta Hit A Man”, the band reached silence. You couldn’t hear a pin drop… then we hear the intro we’ve all been waiting for followed by a gentle “SINGING THROUGH YOU TO ME… THUNDERBOLTS CAUGHT EASILY” The crowd were in heaven! Raising his arm and pointing to them, Drumbo ejaculated a very impressive “EEELLLLLEEEECCCCCTRRRRIIIIIIIICITYYYYYYYYY” … silence again… then… the bass comes in… oh man… my brain’s feel good factor was about to explode with joy. Then it occurs to me, why have they not got a theremin? The whole paoint of that song is to listen for the theremin? I was not disappointed. Out of nowhere the 8 string guitar player pulls out an iPad with an app that emulates a theremin sound very well, to the obvious approval of the crowd. At the conclusion of their first set, they leave the stage to take a well earned break.

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Drumbo appears 20 minutes later to have a casual chat with the crowd and reel off some interesting Beefheart related stories to do with record labels, and how not to get screwed over. Shortly after he starts walking around the drum kit with everyone anticipating that he’ll play it. Without his shadow having time to catch up with him, he fires himself behind the kit and the whole crowd erupt with sheer happiness. He blasts through an interesting original Drumbo solo which gets a great reception from the crowd. He then leaves the stage again and the band resurface once more, this time to open the 2nd set with a blinding rendition of “On Tomorrow”, the punters smiling like cheshire cats.

His new Magic Band line up are incredible, they would make Beefheart proud. If you closed your eyes, it was as though The Captain had been resurrected along with his various line ups. Drumbo-as-Beefheart is scarily accurate. This is the closest I’ll ever get to embracing the legacy. As the set comes to a close, the mood drops and Drumbo picks up on this, promising: “We’ll back soon Nottingham, thank you for having us!”

As the smoke cleared, I snapped back into reality. Did that really just happen? Has Drumbo altered part of my psyche? The haunting wake up call that it’s all over and you have to be up at half 7 for work the next day hit me. But what the heck, my soul has been cleansed. So all in all a good night was had. A varying set with songs from near enough every album that Drumbo played on. My next wish is Trout Mask Replica played in full, then I can die happy (You’re too young to die, Asa! – Oz). Tonight was a celebration of a band that achieved so much. As I left the venue and caught my bus back to Arnold, I stared up out of the window at the moon and it started to snow… tonight there’d be ice cream!

This review previously appeared on the now defunct Bootroom Of Ozymandias blog.

Citrus Penguin (who also operates under the alias Manuff) is an amazing young talent I discovered in a record shop in Nottingham… working behind the counter! You can find any amount of his weird and wonderful creations on soundcloud and mix cloud (as Citrus Penguin) and I earnestly implore you to do so. If you wish to refresh your Proggy palate, you can even catch him in p*nky mode on http://youtu.be/Ie4I7BZBMnY  (“Hung Like Hanratty”? That’s real tasteful, dude!) I’m expecting great things from this guy…

Categories: Gig Reviews | Leave a comment

This Just In… The Decline of NME deplored

Spot the difference…

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When Ozymandias were a lad, back in the ’70s, he could take his pick of three “quality” music weeklies. New Musical Express, authoritative and sarcastic, was the market leader. Melody Maker, which it had supplanted in that role, stumbled along in its wake like an embarrassing uncle dancing drunkenly at the party, clumsily jumping on band wagons that were about to run out of steam. Sounds flung itself headlong into whatever fad was flavour of the month, revamping itself to look like a primitive fanzine (even though it was being published by United Newspapers) at the height of the p*nk craze. All of them punked out in their turn, pretending that the music industry’s latest profit maximisation wheeze was some kind of radical grass roots movement and playing along with the facile “Year Zero” narrative. Musical merit became less important than the ability to sport stupid haircuts and spout swear words on TV. And the new music got the new journalism it deserved. I stopped reading these comics when one of them (Sounds, I seem to remember) told me I was personally responsible for the suicide of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis (oh, just go and fuck yourself!) Predictably, Sounds and Melody Maker folded in their turn. I was recently reunited with NME, decades after having bought my last issue, by a guy handing out free copies in the street. It’s now a glossy, skimpy tip-sheet informing  trendy-bearded, skinny-jeaned hipsters from Spunkbridge Unversity exactly what they are expected to consume this week in the fields of fashion, movies, video games… oh and there’s even a bit of music, or what currently passes for it, too. You get unfunny cartoon strips, an unfunny column from “comedienne” Katherine Ryan, “features” such as the one in which random vegetables plucked from the streets reveal what they’re listening to on their i-Pods… and page after page of adverts. They’re charging too much for this thing by giving it away free! So far, so pitiful… but the bit that will really set Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray and co spinning in their graves is their former mouthpiece’s recommendation that we all rush out and purchase the new Justin Bieber record on account of “his shift from bubble-gum teen-pop to ass-shaking EDM” (whatever that is) and insistence that we “need (said platter) in our life” because “we’re all Beliebers now.” Hand me the Boot Room bucket… I think I’m going to be sick!

This rant previously appeared on the now defunct Bootroom Of Ozymandias blog.

Categories: Random Rantings | 2 Comments

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