Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Frank Zappa's Final American Show To Be Released For the First Time

Nobody knew, not even Frank Zappa, as he led his 11-strong band through a celebratory version of “America The Beautiful” to close out his show at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY on March 25, 1988, that it would be the last time he’d ever play in the United States. Days later, the '88 band would trek to Europe for a multi-country tour, only to implode on the road before they could make it back to the States for another round of scheduled shows. Despite the growing tensions in the band, the ensemble was considered one of the best Zappa ever put together, a skilled mix of extremely talented musicians made up of both longtime members that had played with The Maestro from the early days alongside exciting new additions, bolstered by his favorite new instrument, the Synclavier. A well-oiled machine armed with an extensive 100-song repertoire, the adroit band were equally as adept at playing Zappa’s complex and challenging, genre-defying songs as they were performing classical compositions by the likes of Bartók, Ravel and Stravinsky.

On June 18, Zappa’s historic, final American show will be released for the first time as the new live album, Zappa ’88: The Last U.S. Show via Zappa Records/UMe. The first posthumous archival release from the ‘88 touring band, the album features 29 unreleased performances including two additional performances from the same tour: Zappa’s wild interpretations of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post” from the March 16 show in Providence, R.I. and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” from the March 23 Towson, Md. show. The record is also notable for containing the first official release of the much talked about “The Beatles Medley.”

Zappa ’88: The Last U.S. Show will be released digitally, on 2 CD or as a 4LP 180-gram vinyl box which will be available on both black vinyl or as a limited edition 180-gram purple vinyl variant, exclusively via the official Frank Zappa online store or uDiscover. Fully authorized by the Zappa Trust and produced by Ahmet Zappa and Zappa Vaultmeister Joe Travers, the recordings have been newly mixed by Craig Parker Adams in 2020 from the 48-track digital master tapes. The shows were recorded using two Sony 3324 DASH PCM 24 track tape recorders synced together using a Lynx Time Code Module, thus providing 48 track recording capabilities. The album is rounded out with detailed liner notes by Travers and Zappa ’88 drummer Chad Wackerman, who celebrated his 28th birthday on stage and is serenaded by Zappa and the crowd, as well as photos from the tour by Peder Andersson.

Pre-order for all configurations is available now and will come with a download of the first single, the previously unreleased performance of “I Ain’t Got No Heart,” available to stream now. First appearing in 1966 on Zappa’s Mothers of Invention debut album, Freak Out!, then later in 1981 with an updated faster arrangement on Tinsel Town Rebellion, the ‘88 version takes the song to another level with the addition of a 5-piece horn section.



As Travers writes in the liner notes, “Start with the fulcrum of the 1981-1984 touring bands (Robert, Scott & Chad), bring back Ike Willis, add the Synclavier digital workstation, a 5-piece horn section with multi-instrumentalist Mike Keneally and you have what FZ famously described as “The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life.” While saying “never heard” might have been a bit of hyperbole, it wasn’t far off as the short-lived band (four months of rehearsal in 1987/1988, followed by a tour from February through June 1988) only played a few dozen shows on the East Coast and Europe before disbanding. Nonetheless, the shows they did play together were electrifying and a masterclass in musicianship.

With Zappa on lead guitar, vocals, and wielding his new obsession the Synclavier, he led the proceedings through a career-spanning set, backed by a stellar cast of veteran band members and newly added members: Mike Keneally (guitar, synth, vocals), Scott Thunes (electric bass, Minimoog), Ike Willis (rhythm guitar, synth, vocals), Chad Wackerman (drums, electronic percussion), Ed Mann (vibes, marimba, electronic percussion), Robert Martin (keyboards, vocals) and the cracking horn section of Walt Fowler (trumpet, flugel horn, synth), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Paul Carman (alto, soprano and baritone sax), Albert Wing (tenor sax) and Kurt McGettrick (baritone and bass sax, contrabass clarinet). The band prepped nearly 100 songs and the sets were wide ranging, spanning tunes from the first Mothers of Invention albums, but with characteristically updated and often times ever-evolving arrangements (“I Ain’t Got No Heart,” “Love Of My Life,” “Who Needs The Peace Corps?”), to new compositions created for the ‘88 tour (“Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk” and “When The Lie’s So Big”) as well as classical compositions (Bartók, Ravel, Stravinsky) that Zappa liked to play to expose his audiences to music he appreciated. In addition to the inclusion of the 5-piece horn section and it being Keneally’s only tour, the concerts also included extensive use of sampling through the then current machine, the Synclavier, which Zappa took on the road for the first time, as well as percussionists Mann and Wackerman’s use of electronic sounds in their set ups.

Zappa ’88: The Last U.S. Show includes all of this and many more highlights such as fan favorites, “Peaches En Regalia,” “The Black Page” “Inca Roads,” “Sharleena” “Sofa #1” and “Pound For A Brown.” It also includes a horn-laden cover of The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus,” and the first official release of the highly sought after “The Beatles Medley,” which features the band performing the music of The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood,” “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” with the lyrics completely changed to reflect the then-recent sex scandal of televangelist Jimmy Swaggart. The bawdy lyrics poke fun at the hypocritical minister and was part of Zappa’s agenda to demystify televangelists.

Just how Zappa felt it was important to rail against toxically prude self-appointed culture protectors and whatever hypocrisy or hypocrite rankled him that day, he was also a motivator of positive action, passionate about causes, especially voting rights, making it his mission to get his audiences to register to vote. With a presidential election looming, Zappa offered voter registration on the tour, aided by The League of Women Voters. Fans were encouraged to vote before the show or during a special 20-minute intermission in the middle of the two-hour plus concert, which would start with Zappa triggering the Synclavier to play a piece of music. In Uniondale it was “One Man, One Vote.” Notably, the version here is a different mix than the studio version released on Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention. Zappa 88: The Last U.S. Show kicks off with Zappa extolling the importance of voting and encouraging the unregistered to sign up at the show by registering someone live on stage. It was followed by a representative from Governor Mario Cuomo’s office reading a message congratulating “Mr. Zappa for the important work you are doing encouraging your audiences and others to register and vote.”

“Sadly after the European run was over,” as Travers pens in the liners, “Frank Zappa chose to disband the group and cancel the rest of the tour, reportedly forfeiting $400,000.00 in revenue and depriving additional audiences the opportunity to witness how special this group really was. With all of the time and money spent to prepare and promote the tour, not to mention the potential within the talented band and crew, now in 2021, it’s an even more historic loss considering FZ was to never tour again.”

Fortunately, Zappa’s final U.S. show, like so many others of his, was documented and can now be experienced in its glory more than three decades later.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Graham Coxon & Rose Elinor Dougall form The WAEVE, share first music

Blur guitarist Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall have formed a new duo called The WAEVE. There's not a lot to go on just yet, but here's the blurb that came with the announcement:

The coming together of two musicians, who through working together have formed a new, singular, sonic identity. Themes of oblivion and surrender are juxtaposed with suggestions of hopefulness and light.

Against a brutal global backdrop of impending apocalypse and despair, Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall strove to free themselves through the defiant, blind optimism of making music.

You can hear those heady, heavy concepts in the short piece of music The WAEVE have shared, a 39-second snipped of "Here comes The WAEVE" which sounds like '60s James Bond orchestration mixed with shoegaze. It's big and swooning and makes us anxious to hear more. Check that out below.

The WAEVE will make their live debut in London on May 4 at The Lexington. Hopefully we'll hear more from them soon, too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Emo Rap Lyricist Hoodie Rob Releases “Teardrops (2010)”

You already know! After exploding on the scene with “Misa Misa”, garnering almost a million and a half streams on Spotify, and then cementing his place along the alternative rap timeline on follow ups “Ain’t the Same” and “What Do You Mean”, gifted NYC based indie artist Hoodie Rob presents his emotional new single “Teardrops (2010)”, available now on Spotify and all the major audio services.

With wide ranging stylistic and musical influences, and a nod to his contemporaries like The Kid Laroi, 93feetofsmoke, Convolk and Anxiety Attacks, Hoodie Rob Uzumaki is the newest name in the music scene - poised to leave a lasting impact. Immersed in music from a young age, Hoodie Rob became fascinated with hip-hop and punk rock. Since then he has cultivated his talents to what they are today. The artist, producer, singer, and songwriter radiates a versatile style that encapsulates both of those genres.

The New York-bred artist seeks to leave an everlasting impact on his audience, as his music evokes raw emotions. Through every release, Hoodie Rob Uzumaki seeks to connect with listeners on a personal level that will help them connect to his music. Inspired by his life experiences, Hoodie Rob is creating his artistic lane as his sound crosses the genre divide to create a unique, distinctive emo-rap sound that differentiates him from many in the scene. Garnering over a million streams in the last year, Hoodie Rob Uzumaki is set to leave his footprint in the scene.


Monday, May 16, 2022

Light in the Attic - Betty Davis 'Is It Love Or Desire' Vinyl Reissue

Betty Davis was a musical maverick with vision. Image, substance, sex, and grit combined with a badass band that could deliver the funk bed backbone to the sultry music between the sheets. After cutting two notorious discs for the Just Sunshine label (Betty Davis and They Say I’m Different), and Nasty Gal for Island Records, Davis went to work on her most personal and expressive record yet. After capturing 10 hard-hitting tracks in 1976 at the remote Studio In The Country (Louisiana), a creative difference with her then label caused the platter to be unexpectedly shelved. Davis would cut one final album and soon retreat from the music business, completely disappearing from the public eye.

Is It Love Or Desire is a little-known gem in the Davis catalog. Mastered from the original tapes, and untouched for over 30 years, this release features detailed liner notes, the originally intended artwork housed in a lavishly packaged digipak, rare photos, archival material, and recent interviews with Davis and her skin-tight band Funk House.

Never bootlegged, never released, never heard until now, the secret story of this lost album will finally enter the history books and cement this bold soul sisters contributions to music and popular culture. Its time to get down…

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Tartarus is proud to announce three new vinyl offerings by Filmmaker:

Tartarus is proud to announce three new vinyl offerings by Filmmaker:

Multiverse Nightmare
Screening Plexus
Motion Pictures Regime

As well as two cassettes:

Screening Plexus
Motion Pictures Regime

As always, we're offering bundles for both the vinyl and cassettes to save some money.

Release date: Nov 25th

Friday, May 13, 2022

We Remember You: Nina Simone, ‘The High Priestess Of Soul’

Nineteen years ago, the world lost a woman of immense musical talent, global impact and social activism.

Known by the masses as Nina Simone, Eunice Kathleen Waymon’s unbridled passion and soul as a performer and skilled masterfulness as a singer and classically trained pianist only skim the surface of why her ongoing relevance and status as a legend is solidified.

Revered as “The High Priestess Of Soul,” Simone’s spell-bounding self-written works and renditions continue to mystify listeners with their simultaneously captivating nature and often liberating message.

Simone made Black people feel seen through her music and activism as she shared and represented our stories.

Simone’s work still serves as testaments to some of the struggles we still face today.

Japanese Noisemakers Les Rallizes Dénudés' long-awaited Reissue is here!

Les Rallizes Dénudés
The OZ Tapes

Now Available on LITA Exclusive Color: “Almost Transparent Blue”!

Stored on reels of Scotch analog recording tape, these recordings have laid dormant in storage for almost half a century. This previously unheard material reveals the Rallizes at some of their most unhinged and experimental, as well as moments of delicate tenderness—the two sides of Mizutani that would come to define his band’s legacy

Phoebe Bridgers 2022 "Reunion" Tour

A dollar of each ticket will go to The Mariposa Fund, who work to provide abortions, specifically for undocumented people who already face huge systemic barriers when trying to obtain safe reproductive health services.

We added a bunch of new shows, playing with Sloppy Jane, Charlie Hickey, Claud, MUNA and Christian Lee Hutson.

Forest Hills will be special.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Jens Lekman Announces brand new reworks of his best loved Albums Out June 3rd on Secretly Canadian

Works of sweeping, maximalist, orchestral wonder sung in a sumptuous tenor, weaving lifts from obscure fleamarket vinyl records with by turns burningly romantic and mordantly funny true-life tales from the sleepy-shadowy suburbs of Gothenburg – Lekman’s early songs come from a different time, a different place. An era when the internet was young, limitless and disruptive, sample culture was turning music inside out, and anything felt possible.

After initially finding an audience through peer-to-peer file sharing sites, Lekman signed to Secretly Canadian Records in 2003, and went on to release a slew of cherished material, including three cult limited-edition EPs – Maple Leaves, Rocky Dennis and Julie – later collected on the 2005 compilation album Oh You’re So Silent Jens. His DIY fantasias found their fullest and most celebrated form in 2007 on his second album proper, the exquisite Night Falls Over Kortedala – Lekman’s self-professed “dream record”. It went to number one in Sweden and was later hailed as one of the 200 best albums of the 2000s by Pitchfork, as well as one of the top 100 albums of the 21st century so far by The Guardian.

Now, like Oh You’re So Silent Jens, it no longer exists in its original form. Oh You’re So Silent Jens enigmatically disappeared in 2011; Night Falls Over Kortedala followed suit in early 2022. Lekman’s impulse for giving old music fresh life and context has led him to remake the records under new names, each delicately positioned in dialogue with the past – the same albums, just different. The Cherry Trees Are Still In Blossom and The Linden Trees Are Still In Blossom are a pair of lovingly and painstakingly assembled reduxes each keeping the same core tracklisting, spirit and source material as the originals, but blending brand new versions of some tracks, in part or in whole, together with many tracks left largely as they were. Both records are fleshed out with rare, previously unreleased, and even previously unfinished old songs, as well as other contemporaneous material such as cassette diaries.

On The Cherry Trees, two of Lekman’s best-loved early breakout singles are completely reimagined – ‘Maple Leaves’ as a tender ballad burnished with warm strings; tragi-comic illegal taxi ride to oblivion ‘Black Cab’ in two different versions, a handsome full band pop song and a gentle acoustic lullaby. The Linden Trees repackages all the true-life tales, magic, and mystery of Night Falls for a new age, yet in wholly familiar form, from the joyous ‘The Opposite of Hallelujah’ to hilariously uplifting missive ‘A Postcard to Nina’ and open-hearted love-song ‘Your Arms Around Me’.

Taken together, the new albums form a sort of belated farewell to Lekman’s formative days as a bedroom Scott Walker, panning for sample gold in stacks of vintage vinyl. Albeit not a farewell to the original albums themselves, which will live on in fans’ record collections, and perhaps illicit corners of the internet. Spread to the wind.

“I feel like these new records are like portals that can lead you to the old records if you want,” Lekman reflects. “I think that they can lead you to another time and a place, where you could work with music in a different way.”
The Cherry Trees Are Still In Blossom on Baby Pink 2xLP vinyl, The Linden Trees Are Still In Blossom on Crystal Clear 2xLP Vinyl now available to pre-order at the Secretly Store. Both titles are available as a Limited Edition Color 2xLP +" Sipping On The Sweet Nectar" T-Shirt Bundle.

Monday, April 25, 2022

‘Songs For Drella’: Lou Reed and John Cale’s concert film is an unexpected gift

Riven with frictions and bad blood, the main players of a legendary and influential 1960s rock act sit down facing each other in an on-camera, quasi-studio environment and play their goddamn hearts out until an album appears. Sound familiar? In some ways Songs For Drella – the live concert film of Lou Reed and John Cale’s tribute album to Andy Warhol, long-believed lost and now streaming on MUBI – is like The Velvet Underground’s Get Back. In others it’s far, far more than that.

When the film was first televised in 1990, to this young viewer it was a dark revelation. No other live music performances were this funereal and this furious. Eschewing all showmanship, Reed and Cale faced off over guitar, viola and piano on a pitch-black set. Occasionally backdropped by mournful monochrome photographs from the ‘60s, the weight and dignity of the piece was unlike anything we’d ever seen, even in our teen goth phase. And the surgical insight, cold emotion and brutal honesty the two poured out over the course of its 55 minutes opened a window onto the New York art world of the ’60s. It made the myth feel human – and pop art deeply personal.

It’s a hell of a life story too, all the more fascinating to modern audiences for the additional 30-year remove. Directed by Ed Lachman, Songs For Drella begins Warhol’s journey by inhabiting his outcast youth in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: “I hate being odd in a small town, if they stare let them stare in New York City,” goes the faux-jaunty ‘Small Town’, Reed describing Andy as a “pink eyed painting albino” with “bad skin, bad eyes, gay and fatty”. “My father worked in construction,” Reed deadpans, “it’s not something for which I am suited/Oh, what is something for which you are suited?/Getting out of here”.

As a commercial artist for Glamour magazine in Manhattan in the 1940s, the hospitable nature of his Austro-Hungarian family make him a natural art scene fulcrum in the beautifully brooding ‘Open House’ and his rise through art circles with his Brillo box paintings and movies of street “superstars” projected onto The Velvet Underground is documented in Cale’s ‘Style It Takes’, a sublime portrait of Factory life. This much we knew already; what really draws us in are the personal and artistic glimpses behind a long-guarded arthouse façade. With Cale’s brutalist classic piano clashing with Reed’s firebrand guitar, ‘Trouble With Classicists’ outlines Warhol’s creative mindset (“I think sometimes it hurts you when you’re afraid to be called a fool”), while the raw-boned ‘Work’ details Lou firing Andy as The Velvets manager in ferocious manner, as if the blood is still hot in 1990, three years after Warhol’s death.

The show grows even more engrossing and open-hearted as it goes on. ‘It Wasn’t Me’ finds Andy rebutting accusations that he was somehow responsible for the overdoses and deaths of key factory figures – Edie Sedgewick, Andrea Whips, Jeremy Dixon. There’s real fury to ‘I Believe’, Reed’s retelling of Warhol’s shooting at the hands of paranoid schizophrenic Valeria Solanas in 1968: “I believe being sick is no excuse and I believe I would’ve pulled the switch on her myself”. And there can be few more moving endings to an album or concert than that of ‘Songs For Drella’.

Amid the hypnagogic chimes and clangs of ‘A Dream’, John Cale takes us inside the mind of a lonely, fading Warhol, bereft of new ideas and shunned by old, successful Factory friends. At one point the spotlight falls at Reed’s own failings in Andy’s later years: “Lou Reed got married and didn’t invite me… I hate Lou, I really do, he won’t even hire us for his videos, and I was so proud of him”. It sets up Reed’s belated reply, ‘Hello It’s Me’, one of the most tear-jerking pieces of music ever recorded, laying out everything Lou wished he’d have said to Andy before he died: “Andy, it’s me, haven’t seen you in a while/I wish I’d talked to you more when you were alive”.

It’s a public eulogy, drenched in grief and regret: that Lou misread Andy’s shyness for self-assurance, regretted ignoring him at the 1984 MTV Awards, and allowed age-old misunderstandings to fester into animosity (“When Billy Name was sick… you asked me for some speed, I thought it was for you”). Reed’s outpouring is unfathomably personal, but the closing sentiment will touch anyone who’s ever suffered loss – “I wish someway, somehow, you like this little show/I know this is late in coming, but it’s the only way I know”.

If the emotion of the show wasn’t enough to make ‘Songs For Drella’ one of this writer’s favourite albums overnight, the bewitching subtext of its performance sealed the deal. Having met after years of estrangement at Warhol’s funeral, here were two rock legends putting aside years of resentment to write a memorial piece, and the tangible tension only added to the taut brilliance of the concert. At one point they almost – almost – smile at each other, then think better of it. There are unspoken decades in that moment, every bit as historic as George Harrison telling his bandmates “I’ll see you round the clubs”.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

aircode reveals hidden ecologies in Spores

A collaboration between the London-based producer aircode, director Federico Barni and the South London Botanical Institute.

On her debut album Groundedaircode pulls focus on the microscopic ecologies of moss plants to illuminate the often chaotic biological systems that permeate everyday life. Corralling guitar, piano, voice, skittering percussion and cavernous low-end into richy textural, deeply evocative tracks, the producer navigates an esoteric path through recogniseable sounds. ‘Spores,’ a sinister highlight from the record, sets foreboding squalls of noise against creeping horrorshow keys and ritualistic percussive clanks, constantly flirting with the sinister suggestion that something ancient and sprawling lurks just beneath the surface.

“I thought the way mosses, their life cycles and ecosystems informed and transpired into Julia’s music was a perfect example of how the language of biology is more often awe-inspiring than sterile, creating ripples and suggestions in everything it touches,” explains director Federico Barni, who teamed up with the South London Botanical Institute to create an atmospheric visual to accompany the track. “Julia and I decided it would also be interesting to add a documentary element to the video and reached out to the South London Botanical Institute.” Combining documentation of the institute’s extensive moss and liverwort collection with alien close-ups of the plants, Barni’s video is part archival footage, part sci-fi thriller.

“It was great to experience the collections as seen through the eye of a botanist,” he continues, “someone who was able to tell us about many of the people who collected these specimens more than a century ago as well as how bog moss was used to dress wounds during WWI or as animal stuffing by taxidermists. His words really made these dry, ancient specimens come alive, in a similar way to how the moss samples we had gathered to film in the studio came back to life once rehydrated.” Cutting between a third person perspective and the perspective of the botanist, as glimpsed through the lens of a microscope, aircode and Barni explore interconnected ecological systems at both a micro and macro level.

For more information about Federico Barni and his work you can follow him on Instagram and visit his website.

Grounded is out now, on Alien Jams. You can find aircode on Instagram.

The Day Kurt Cobain Died

One of rock's brightest young talents was extinguished on April 5, 1994, when Kurt Cobain's life ended with an act of horrific violence that investigators later deemed a suicide.

The Nirvana frontman's body was found on April 8 when an electrician discovered his corpse, along with a shotgun and a handwritten note, after arriving at Cobain's Seattle home to install security lighting. Reports of his death circulated quickly, but Seattle police department held off on issuing an official confirmation until April 9, when the King County medical examiner's office finally obtained a conclusive fingerprint match.

"An autopsy has shown Kurt Cobain died of a shotgun wound to the head," read part of the examiner's report. "At this time the wound appears to be self-inflicted."

The news of Cobain's death set the music world reeling, but his physical and emotional troubles – and his drug problems – had long been a matter of public record. He insisted he'd cleaned up his act following the birth of daughter Frances Bean, but he and his wife, Hole leader Courtney Love, were dogged by rumors that they continued to lead a dangerous lifestyle.

Those rumors that only intensified after Cobain was hospitalized in March of 1994 following an overdose.

Cobain's mother, Wendy O'Connor, publicly shared how her worst fears were realized regarding her son's long-term health, telling reporters after his death that she'd urged him "not to join that stupid club" of famous musicians who died at the age of 27.

At the time of Cobain's passing, Nirvana's third studio LP, In Utero, was only a few months old. It arrived as one of the most highly anticipated new records of 1993, but Cobain made no secret of his ambivalence toward the music industry in general.

"I do not want to have a long career if I have to put up with the same stuff that I'm putting up with," Cobain told the New York Times following its release. "I'm trying it one last time, and if it's more of a pleasant year for us, then fine, we'll have a career. But I'm not going to subject myself to being stuck in an apartment building for the next 10 years and being afraid to go outside of my house. It's not worth it."

Those sentiments were echoed in the note found with Cobain's body.

"I haven't felt the excitement for so many years," it read in part. "I feel guilty beyond words about these things. ... When we are backstage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowd begins, it doesn't affect me.

"The fact is, I can't fool you, any of you. It simply isn't fair to you or to me," Cobain added. "The worst crime I can think of would be to put people off by faking it and pretending as if I was having 100 percent fun."

Whatever his internal issues may have been, it's difficult to overestimate Cobain's impact: "When people look back over the years at the industry, I believe there will be a pre-Nirvana business and a post-Nirvana business," said record executive Gary Gersh, who brokered the deal that brought Nirvana to the majors for their smash Nevermind LP. "The group's Nevermind album will be looked back on as a seminal record in the history of rock."