Monday, January 25, 2010

The Beatles 01/XX/69 London (get back / winter)

Decades after there being an actual band of the name, the Beatles quite recently appeared once again across the official networks of consciousness. Last September marked, almost certainly, the very last time that their catalog of recordings will be remastered as individual discs to be made available as physical items on a store shelf. (The most interesting aspect of the reissue, for golden ear, audiophile types, was a USB drive version, which includes FLAC files that were recorded/playback at 24 bit resolution: for some of the material, a sharper digital image than anything made so far- I don't think there was any DVDA/SVCD type releases in the past...) The bigger event for the marketing blitz, was that the band's music has finally arrived for the wildly popular Rock Band.

I've played Guitar Hero. At first you thought it was going to be a hula hoop/Rubik's cube type thing: but the bigger picture is that: Bands are out; games are in- as far as large amounts of money changing hands is concerned...

From International Business Times: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been successful in crossing the coveted $1 billion mark (£625 million) in global revenues according to its publisher, Activision Blizzard Inc. and is the latter's third "billion dollar-plus" franchise after Guitar Hero and World of Warcraft...Among entertainment franchises, the only ones ahead of it are Titanic which earned $1.8 billion, Avatar, which has raked in $1.3 billion, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King which made $1.12 billion and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest which earned $1.07 billion.

A billion dollars = 15 million disks, a long time has passed since a stereo audio recording has been taken to the register that many times....

Hard to say what the total revenue has been for five decades of the Beatles "franchise" What IS evident is that it is being forced to alter its form into a franchise in order to wrest people's attentions from the franchises which threaten to eclipse it.

For those who hardly know anything of the band. Let me introduce these discs by saying that the Beatles were to break up in September of 70...The period covered in the material of these discs captures their attempt to reconcile their differences by retreating from the method of each member recording each their own music in the studio, apart from all the others, and returning to an ensemble recording of the songs together in one take as a group. The material that resulted from this, the songs that were recorded and a movie- were not immediately satisfactory to them. The material was released as a LP and into theaters only after they disbanded.

Obviously, Wikipedia is there to flesh this out...Moving on to address those who know all of it: What is the material on these discs? To give you an informed review I would have had to have seen "Let It Be", the movie (which is itself only available as a bootleg as of this writing) and I would have had to have seen the Anthology documentary. Then, I would be able to situate what's presented here with a little more context. Unfortunately, I haven't done that for you.

There are three things on these discs: The stereo mix, outtakes, and promos/extras. The stereo mix is: If you like the group, and you like the songs from this period, you're definitely going to want this material: it's the rooftop concert plus full takes of other songs

The outtakes are a different story, while quality somewhat varies, by bootleg standards they are pristine...They mostly seem to be black and white prints of film that was shot for a potential theatrical release. They have been matched up to the actual studio recordings and the sound quality is very high. The problem is that they are too fragmentary...There will be 45 seconds from one camera- The same 45 seconds from another camera- and then no more of the material, kind of tedious. And random cut-ins into fly-on-the-wall with banal, distracted attempts at getting everyone to the same moment for accomplishing something...Lighting cigarettes or mentioning anecdotes in a small-talk-no specific message sort of way...It is kind of peculiar watching the everyday people moments which subsequently had to be edited away from ones that would be iconic and contribute to their considerable fame.
Along the way, there are glimpses of them actively working out the arrangements to the music. Just out of respect for how ubiquitous these songs became, I'd imagine anyone who has ever played an instrument would feel a spark of curiosity watching the conditions of their origin.

The Promos consist of some of this material printed to color stock for various purposes, like the Let It Be Naked thing. It makes you wonder what physical material all the masters of Beatles stuff is it is safeguarded and preserved. Eventually, digital necromancy will be employed upon all of it, as evidenced by the Anthology John Lennon collaborations long after the fact. Witness Avatar's Cameron talking about how a young Clint Eastwood will be appearing in movies soon. Likewise, once everything in Apple's vault is scanned, perhaps the Beatles will come out with some new 21st century tunes, virtual Idoru style

If the tracklisting in the cover photo is interesting and you're looking for a more in depth description of the material, it's here in the BootlegZone, a site which makes a gesture towards rock bootlegs generally, but which is primarily concerned with exchanging unofficial Beatle information. The scholar, and the obsessed, have hundreds of hours of Beatles audio studio material that they could wade through. Some boffin named John C. Winn has published some books on the subject, and at least one long lived fanzine is devoted to the minutiae.

How to address the monumental popularity of the Beatles...and monumental popularity in general? I already adopted the Debord front for the Michael Jackson and Elvis entries, so it's time to let it rest. I was reading an Aquarius Records review (some very accomplished writing throughout this site, though often a little too generous and enthusiastic) of the Nirvana Box set where they come out and say : "See, everyone loves Nirvana. Everyone. Those of you who say you don't are just trying to be 'cool'. Sort of like the people who talk about how the Beatles suck. The Beatles did not suck. They wrote more perfect pop songs than any band in the history of rock and roll...It's not cool to pretend you don't like Nirvana. Not at all. In fact, it's unbelievably UNCOOL..." and it goes on with an intelligent author speaking as simply as possible to communicate a gut level candor. I can't address that directly (other than mentioning that any Aquarius record of the week is more interesting than the Beatles)- , but I can start by saying that I've heard these songs more than enough times...There's so much else that's so very great that the Beatles popularity, to radios and supermarkets, at least, is inordinate with their talent. Further than that, the tedium of the same damn songs is now the soundtrack for tedium- for what is unimaginative and normal in life...You can also take aim at the tyranny of the Beatles' legacy by imaging RockStar lives that you would rather have lived- playing along with the whole vicarious wish fulfillment nature of the whole pop star edifice...

Audiences have grown with population size, the spread of western communication technologies and the globalization/standardization of everyday life: Mccdonalds, X-Box. The Beatles...The Beatles rode in on the emergence of all this and now it threatens to be the ocean that supersedes them- though in some sense it never will. Because rock music, like portrait painting and theater, is no longer Pop- no longer some novel thing that people look to as NOW, as what's new and happening...It is dead. Programs...Games...Networks of people communicating via computers...are today.

As for Rock Band, will it ever, in and of itself, contribute to the existence of sounds that are worth listening to? DJ Little Steven chimed in with how it might be the savior for the oldies AKA rock and roll...Combined sales of GH and RB top $2.3 bill...Aerosmith Rock Band has reportedly earned the group more money than the sale of anyone of their single LPs...More interestingly, one could hope that it might dovetail into networks upon which people are actually making music. In the Harmonix foundation story, the guy relates how once he got rid of the improvisation idea- just had people trying to accurately follow along, the doors of success were flung open. Perhaps they can backpedal from there and implement some new forum for creativity. I haven't scrutinized their new Rock Band Network initiative, but Kirn over @ Create Digital Music has, which suggests that there is some possible emerging novel avenue for creativity to the whole thing.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black 04/20/91 07/04/92 New York City

There are, you know, times where shit gets so crazy that you don't really know where you are or what you are doing.

You try to make sense of life- but is the sense you've made really anywhere close to what the fuck is really going on?

You step outside of your understanding and feel like something broken that was in the way has been removed. Is that the aim of a rock concert- of people getting up in front of others with guitar, bass, drums, and making music for them? Not necessarily no. In fact, not generally, no... I would say, however, that this is certainly the majestic aim of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black.

Words fail to do this video justice. Can you honestly tell me what any of it means or why any of it is happening? I leave in on for hours at a time to distractedly look at whenever I'm trying to get something important done. If somebody tells you they don't like it, you can fairly well safely assume that you don't want them around when you're trying to have a good time. I do have to confess that I generally leave the sound off- for in and of itself it's basically some competantly performed metal....And while it's beyond question to us that Kembra Pfahler is the extraterrestrial emissary from the one of the most genuine civilizations that has ever existed, we do also have to admit to ourselves that she was not gifted with perfect pitch...It's all of a piece, of course- the Gods have reasons that mortals can't understand.

There are songs from three shows on this disc. The first is a single camera shoot by someone who does an almost totally perfect job of keeping as much of the awe inspiring festivities in frame as possible. The second, at CBGBs, is multiple camera and is edited together with primitive effects and is of slight better audio quality. All of this documentation was done with prosumer gear, so it's definitely has the same look as somebodies high school graduation or wedding circa 1990. But probably all the more perfect for that. Finally, after a little clip of Karen Black herself good-naturedly attempting to come to grips with her confusion about the group...there is some even better quality multicamera footage of a somewhat more restrained performance of two and a half songs .

If you were wondering what do get me for Christmas, Kembra Pfhaler's recently released book Beautalism, would do just fine. You should buy one for yourself as well, as I'm sure many secrets of the universe are revealed therein. In other where are they now news, lead guitarist Samoa recently put out a disc of country music.

In a perfect world, this VHOKB video would be sold with LSD and Bodypaint at every 7-Eleven across the globe. But really, what is to be done? Fuck it. I don't want to talk about it anymore...Me, I'm going to Alaska...

Nirvana 10/19/1991 Dallas

Can you really take it with you? What's the real basis of the difference between something that is really happening, and something that is only on the screen, something that is only on a record or on a page?

This review entry is going to veer away from the rock focus of the blog and talk a little bit about the concepts of the dead and the image. One of my interests, fairly well unrelated to bootleg music DVDs, is a five year and counting attempt to make any sense out of the Spanish language. I was reading a text by Carlos Fuentes on the death of Hemingway, and figured that I could hit two birds with one stone by translating it for this blog. This arose from the consideration that Hemingway, for those of you not big on the stuff that they forced you to try and read in high school, ended his very successful career as a entertainer in the very same way as Cobain- by blowing his brains out with a shotgun. Now, from certain perspectives, when you draw parallels between the two suicides, or any two suicides for that matter, the lines are false. What could be more unique and personal than all of the private contradictions for which suicide is the inescapable conclusion? Nevertheless, we, the living, project upon these figures a sort of myth or cliché that is part of the general idea of rock and roll: the hero dying at the peak of his powers- their devotion to them is so strong that they are unable to exist after their disappearance.

If you have a better grasp of Spanish than I do and you discover some errors in what I've done, I'd appreciate it very much if you'd let me know. If you're some sexy Spanish speaking muchacha who is willing to give me some private lessons, that would be even better...

.....A year before dying, Ernest Hemingway finished, in his country estate on the Cuban coast, A Movable Feast, the title comes from an expression coined by Hemingway himself:
'If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.' The words not only express the nostalgia of a writer affirming the vitality of his vocation in the Parisian twenties, it also reveals the conscious of a man in search of his true image. A Movable Feast is the tragic document of Ernest Hemingway in search of Ernest Hemingway. The result, with respect to literature, is happy: the hard, brilliant, and austere style of the old author bridging the distance in order to discover another man- in order to create an objective personality. From a human viewpoint, the result is saddening: Hemingway knew that that Hemingway, the young, true Hemingway, was not the emasculated Hemingway that a year later would commit suicide. Are we only that which we truly are that single day, that day in which will, necessity, and chance: the sum of our destiny- unite themselves in order to offer us our greatest possibility? Can we- or should we -continue living after this moment? When we have arrived at a compromise with life that permits us to repeat the old gestures and maintain with them the illusion of a lost authenticity. "My new theory (was) that you could omit anything if you knew what you omitted and the omitted part would strengthen the story and make people feel something more than they understood." The familiar style is present, I daresay like never before- In the posthumous book, that which is unspoken, doubts, terrible and solitary, are the material for memoirs that achieve the level of great literature.
-casa de los dos puertas p. 105 bold italics mine

Un ano antes de morir, Ernest Hemingway terminò, en su finca de la costa cubana, A Movable Feast. El tìtulo deriva de una frase dicha en conversaciòn por el propio Hemingway: " Los que tuvimos la suerte de vivir en Paris nuestra juventud, sentimos que permanece dentro de nosotros furante toda la vida y a donde vayamos, pues Paris es una fiesta en movimiento."
Las palabras no sòlo expresan la nostagia de un escritor que e
n Paris de los años vientes afirmò su vocacion vital. Ademas revelan la conciencia de un hombre en busca de su verdadera imagen. A movable feast es es documento tràgico de Ernest Hemingway. El resultado, literariamente, es feliz: el estilo duro, brilliante y austero del viejo escritor aprovecha la distancia para descubrir el caràcter de otro hombre, para crear un personaje objectivo. Pero, humanamente, es doloroso: Hemingway sabe que aquel Hemingway, el joven, el verdadero, ya no es el Hemingway enmascarado que un ano despuès habrìa de sauiciarse. Somos sòlo lo que fuimos un dìa, el dìa en que la voluntad, la necieisidad y el azar- la suma del destino- se reunieron para ofrecernos nuestra màxima posibilidad? Podemos o merecemos vivr dispuès ese momento? Hemos de llegar a un compromiso con la vida que nos permita repetir los gesos, y con ellos mantener la ilusiòn, de una autenticdad perdida? Mi nueva teoria- escribe Hemingway en este libro - " Mi nueva teorìa- escribe Hemingway en este libro- (era) que uno podìa omitido cualquuier cosa si uno sabìa que la habìa omitido, y la parte omitida reforzarìa la historia y harìa que le gente sintiera algo màs de lo que entendia."El famoso estilo de Hemingway està presente- me atrevo a pensar que como nunca- en esta libro pòstuma: lo no dicho, preguntas terrìbles y solitarias, son la materia de unas memorias que alcazan el nivel de la creacion literaria.

The image seems like a rather casual aspect of the world- all the more so now given that it's all just pixels raining down across the heavens. Do non-famous people even have an Image?....You and I...We post our images. Our acquaintances pretend to be interested in them for a few moments, but soon there will be mountains and mountains of digital videos and conversations...and we and our acquaintances will all be forgotten...All the words and images we post...grains of digital ones and zeros that no one will ever bring up on a screen again...

Theme From Carmen
Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam
Drain You
Floyd The Barber
Smells Like Teen Spirit
About A Girl
Love Buzz
Pennyroyal Tea
Negative Creep
On A Plain
Rape Me
Territorial Pissings

Those of you with a little intuition should be able to conclude by now that this Nirvana concert rocks out pretty hard...Nevermind had been released, but the momentum of its popularity was still building and the band is only playing in a medium sized club. It's single camera and not pro-shot- but the shooter is actually on stage with the band in front of the drums and facing the crowd: the chaos at the edge of the stage. A front line, really, manned by a few bouncers and steadily assailed by crowdsurfers. Sometimes. the rowdy audience gives the songs more energy. Other times, it forces the band to fuck them up- but the fact that it's not all scripted and done before it began is what makes it such an enjoyable show.

The height of the show's mayhem is included in thirty seconds of the Nirvana: Live! Tonight! Sold Out!! vid. During "Lovebuzz", Cobain surfs the crowd. When he makes it back up on stage, one of the bouncers punches him in the back of the head and sends him sprawling. The crowd chants "...bullshit...bullshit...bullshit..." and tense confusion takes place for a good four or five minutes. The possibility of a riot crosses everyone's' mind. The band gets back up and plays for another half hour with nearly the same intensity as before.

I watched the Nirvana: Live! Tonight! Sold Out!! thing again in order to get in the right frame of mind for doing this all justice. This bootleg looks a lot better than how the video appeared on that product. Whoever mastered it for the bootleg did a hell of a job. As for Live sold out, if you find Nirvana even tolerable, I'd say that it is essential viewing...Again and again, you see television hosts and programs, malicious facades of human beings and life, all trying convey their only real message: that one must remain convinced of how important television is. Sometimes, the band finds it easy to make it all look stupid by not taking it seriously. Other times, they only pay some poorly thought out cliché lip service to objecting to it -winding up in the vague paradox realm of the famous Rolling Stone cover. How do you control your image and make it say what you want to say what you want it to say? What other forces threaten to take control of your image?

.......It isn't paradoxical that Hemingway, who ended by sacrificing his literary talent to his public image, is now made complete by encountering, in the lost Hemingway, his greatest fictional character. The concision of A Movable Feast, direct and realistic, effectively hides an uncanny scaffold of corridors extending by means of a game of infinite mirrors. Who is Ernest Hemingway? That is the enigma of this novel of memoirs. Old friends of Hemingway told me recently, in New York, that in his last years the writer had arrived at a total confusion of personality. Hemingway did not know if he was Lieutenant Frederick Henry, the guerrilla Robert Jordan, or the actor Gary Cooper.

No es paradójico que Hemingway, que terminó por sacrifcar su literatura a su imagen personal, acabe ahora por encontrar en el Hemingway perdido su mejor personaje. La concisión de la escritura en A movable Feast, directa y realista, esconde efectivamente un andamiaje fantástico de corredores alargados por juegos de espejos infinitos. Quién es Ernest Hemingway? Tal es el enigma de esta novela de memorias. Viejos amogos de Hemingway me decían recientemente, en Nueva York,, que en sus ultimos años el escritor habia llegado a una confusión se personalidad total. Hemingway no sabía si era el teniente Frederick Henry, el guerrillero Robert Jordan, o el actor Gary Cooper.

...So which image belongs to who? And how is it decided? By the real people beneath them all? What do they look like?

There are other aspects to move onto here, other thoughts and remarks...but they are far from Cobain, now long dead. I've no motive to omit anything, my friends, for any reason, literary, or otherwise. It's just that this disc has stopped turning in my player. Time permitting, we will return to this inquiry by means of some other rock and roll occasion.

And P.S.
Big up which looks like a nice overview of the nirvana boot universe.

PPS if what brought you through here was an interests in literature of the Spanish language - I've got another blog which is more related to this theme...some discussion of Octavio Paz and other authors: check THIS

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Skinny Puppy 6/26/1992 Dallas

Tried to write this several times but, bottom line: either I don't get S.P. or they're not any good...I used a sound effect off of The Process once...but the other recordings, nothing I've heard did anything for me and this live show video didn't change my opinion of the group.

This youtube post is a fair representation of the quality of the files I found in the torrent, and will perhaps allow you to conclude with me that it doesn't make for very interesting viewing. Its youtube uploader has also put up some skinny puppy material that is a little more engaging: some of the backing videos that the group edited together for rear projection at their performances. There are some very visceral sequences that occasionally crop up throughout the montage, and it's a damn shame that it's all so terribly fucked up by compression artifacts. It's all of a sort of material that prompted me to collect video in the first place; once you do violence to images themselves it sometimes reminds you that not all control of them is official and has to be outside of your hands...

here's an excerpt from a text file bundled in the torrent:
setlist: Addiction Love In Vein The Choke Harsh Stone White Interlude Tin Omen Worlock Knowhere Anger Interlude2 VX Gas Attack Second Tooth Killing Game Circustance Left Hand Shake Dirty Tricks Testure Janitor's Nightmare

===================== The stage show of Last Rights tour (North America, 1992) was built around a detailed narrative that involved Ogre interacting with a backing film, a "virtual reality" machine, a bleeding crucifix, and a large, rotating device called "The Tree of No Cares" from which dangled severed heads and pornographic magazines

========================================================================================== video info : MPEG-2 Program Stream Sys Bitrate: 10080 kb/s VBR Frame 720 x 480 4.3 NTSC audio : AC3 48000Hz 192 kb/s total (2 chnls)