Friday, April 30, 2010

THE IRT ALBUM REVIEW: 4/30/10 Edition

by Ron Hart


Raw Power: Legacy Edition (Columbia-Legacy)

A recent episode of Lost found central character James “Sawyer” Ford wallowing in anger and self-pity within the confides of the house he and his dearly departed beloved Juliet lived in as the crackling sounds of a beat-up vinyl copy of Iggy and the Stooges’ Raw Power blared from a portable record player with the album’s iconic cover art displayed in the foreground. For anyone who watches the ABC’s epic time traveling island adventure series, it was a pivotal moment that perfectly defined the essence of Sawyer, who in many ways reflects the fuck all attitude that Iggy Pop so viciously displayed on this pivotal 1973 album that for many people serves as the first true genesis of punk music. For Raw Power, the late, great Ron Asheton switched from guitar to bass to make room for James Williamson, whose piercing, buzzsaw guitar was as confrontational as Iggy’s daring, disturbing stage antics that included picking fights with members of the audience, cutting himself with glass and smearing his wounds with peanut butter. This two-disc Legacy edition restores the original tranlsation of Power, which featured Iggy behind the production desk and his pal David Bowie at the mixing console, and it sounds fiercer and more violent than ever (including the 1997 single disc reissue). Also included in this version is the long sought-after bootleg “Georgia Peaches”, an excellent audience recording culled from Ron Asheton’s personal cassette of a September 1973 gig at the Atlanta rock club Richards, which finds Pop taunting the Southern crowd with verbal spikes like, “Do you wanna get your fuckin’ face punched in, little cracker boy?” Serious Raw Power junkies will want to cop the Deluxe Edition box set of the LP, which adds a third disc of rare outtakes and alternate versions, a half-hour-long documentary DVD and a reproduction of the Japanese-issue picture sleeve 45 single of the album’s title track b/w the iconic “Search and Destroy” on the flip, available exclusively at (RH)


Crimson, White & Indigo: Philadelphia, July 7, 1989 (Grateful Dead/Rhino)

The late 1980s were a vibrant, revitalized time for the Dead, seeing the band finally achieve the Top 40 success that eluded them for so many years with the unexpected smash of “Touch of Grey” from their 1987 classic In The Dark, no doubt augmented by the San Francisco institution’s first video for the song in constant rotation on a still-vital MTV. The whirlwind two years that followed the album’s release hit its fever pitch on Independence Day weekend in 1989, when the Dead played the final show at Philadelphia’s storied JFK Stadium before it was razed in the name of somebody’s idea of progress. Jerry, Phil, Bob, Mickey, Bill and the late, great Brent Mydland were firing on all cylinders on this day, and this show remains the crown jewel of that 89 tour for many Dead fans, and is now finally made commercially available by Rhino as a 3-CD/1-DVD set that earns its place amongst Fillmore West ’69 and Europe ’72 as one of the most essential official live documents of the Grateful Dead available at your local record shop. (RH)


Live at the New Orleans House Berkeley, CA September 1969 (Collector’s Choice)

As most JamBasers are aware, the first official Hot Tuna album was culled from a live recording of a September 1969 stand the acoustic offshoot of Jefferson Airplane booked at the New Orleans House in Berkeley, CA. This gorgeous-sounding set contains 68 minutes worth of material taped from those shows but never released until now. Featured here are alternate performances of the six tracks we’ve all come to know and love, as well as seven other tunes that never made the final cut, including some key covers of such blues chestnuts as Blind Boy Fuller’s “Keep On Truckin’”, the Rev. Gary Davis’s “Candy Man” and Blind Blake’s “That’ll Never Happen No More”. And, of course, Jorma’s unmatched guitar mastery shines throughout this essential addition to your “Tuna” salad. (RH)


Love and Desperation (Tee Pee)

Indie vet supergroup Sweet Apple was formed over the course of a mother’s passing, a long car ride, a random phone call and a healing hang-out session in Brattleboro, VT. Comprised of John Petkovic and Tim Parnin of Cobra Verde, Witch bassist (and group namesake) Dave Sweetapple and his drummer, Dinosaur Jr. guitar master J. Mascis, this band is essentially the Traveling Wilburys of underground scuz rock and Love and Desperation is their Vol. 1. Largely written by Petkovic and Parnin in the wake of the passing of Petkovic’s mom, this 12 track set is loaded with therapeutically catchy songs about driving, flying and feelings set to a perfect storm of pure pop puzz turned up to 11. Mourning has never sounded so heavy. (RH)


What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood (Saddle Creek)

We’ve heard John Davis’ take on the bust-up of the DC post-punk duo Georgie James with his Boss-covering new band Title Tracks. Now we get to hear the other side with the debut of this lovely solo project from the group’s fairer half Laura Burhenn. Taking its handle from the mythically short-lived Motown band that featured Rick James, Neil Young and his future Buffalo Springfield bandmate Bruce Palmer, the Mynabirds encapsulate a sound that is nothing like its namesake, whose unreleased sessions are out there on the Internet to hear if you look hard enough. However, what Burhenn and producer Richard Swift create with What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood is far more impressive and soulful than anything the original Mynahs conspired in their brief tenure. This album is a warm slice of garage soul pie with a modern twist with nods to both Aimee Mann’s Bachelor No. 2 and Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis. Absolute magic. (RH)


Secret Agent (Nonesuch)

Fela Kuti might be considered to be the father of Afrobeat. But the late Nigerian legend’s longtime drummer and musical director is the Holy Ghost. Released earlier this year in Europe, Tony Allen’s label debut on World Circuit/Nonesuch finally arrives stateside. But for those who expect to hear the influence of his rich partnership with Blur/Gorillaz charge and partner in The Good, The Bad and The Queen Damon Albarn, guess again. Secret Agent, recorded with his touring band, celebrates the music of his Motherland, incorporating elements of high life and Nigerian drumming with African soul and jazz to craft a wealth of ethnocentric rhythm and harmony that belies Allen’s 70 years on Earth. (RH)


Imaginary Television (Bloodshot)

On what easily should be considered his best album since The Up Escalator, British New Wave legend Graham Parker delivers an intriguing concept album for our times that centers around America’s unhealthy obsession with TV culture by penning eleven theme songs for eleven different fictional television shows. And, in a great move that almost forces you to have to buy the physical product in order to understand the idea, Parker’s liner notes are laid out like an old issue of TV Guide containing brief synopses for each “program”, including such wild premises as a series about a 28-year-old agoraphobe who suddenly becomes the central figure of a civil war between liberals and conservatives and a reality show that follows the career a 250-lb. female rapper from the Bronx who rhymes about her bowel movements. Yet beneath these zany yarns exist personal, poignant songs enhanced by the warm production of longtime Band associate Prof. Louie Hurwitz. Recorded at the Prof.’s studio in West Hurley, NY, Imaginary Television comes across exactly like what you’d expect Graham Parker up in Big Pink country to sound like: AWESOME. (RH)

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