nico - The I-94 Bar
You may, or may not, see this book in shops. If you do, buy it. Most of the readers here will want to read the New York section. So don’t hesitate.
But I’m s’posed to be a critic or something and The Barman wants to know: how many McGarretts? In spite of the several things which annoy the hell out of me, "City Primeval" rates a mighty Three McGarretts. Yep: 100 percent..
Why so high, Grand-dad?
Well, the concept alone is mighty. And it could’ve been seriously terrible. But "City Primeval" is one of those unique, slanted historiography things which are invaluable to any music/ culture enthusiast. Sure, the book could’ve done with a decent editor, and sure some of the people writing here don’t usually write so it’s not the smoothest.
But that’s not the point, at all, and in fact is part of the charm. Reading "City Primeval" doesn’t just give us a bit more context, but part of the "ah-HA!" understanding which so many outsiders to any florid scene lack.
I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico – Various Artists (Verve)
Tribute albums usually have their fair share of lowlights bordering on the "what the fucks". Worst still, their highlights usually rank at a mere meh. At best, someone will pull off a single worthy take of something and rescue the whole project from being a waste of time.
The first Velvet Underground album is now an unquestioned classic seen as a cornerstone of modern rock. It does this because of, not in spite of, its "dangerous" themes and avant-garde sound. Even the "pretty" songs seem to arrive from another world, twisted by low-fi audio recording.
Sir George Martin was not at the mixing desk. And that is why the first Velvet Underground album rules. Oh, that and genius players and songwriting. That didn't hurt.
The Velvet Underground and Nico, Now - finally - we come to one of those albums that is insanely iconic (that peeling banana for a start), that you’re told is essential, but which so many people have and rarely listen to because - whisper it - they don’t really like it.
Characters like me, of course, love it (to put it mildly). Around about the time I first heard this LP (I was 12 or 13, my friend Paul had bought it in a chain record shop, filed in the comedy section) I recall talking to some older musicians in 1980, stalwarts of Adelaide’s piddly live scene. To them, the VU were “weird”, and therefore not worthy of examination. The Stooges, incidentally, were widely regarded as a joke, plunking, laboured plodders. The musicians I’m talking about were people who took Frank Zappa seriously (but dismissed Beefheart) and rejoiced when ELO came along (if I had a dollar for every bozo who forcibly showed me how super ELO sounded on their expensive new imported speakers …).
Is it possible that God doesn’t want Ozzy or Eric Clapton up there with Motorhead and Schubert, Bach, Bowie, Keith Emmerson and Bolan, and Robert Quine and Renestair EJ and Thelonious Monk and Charlie Mingus and Brett Smiley and Art Pepper and all the others … talk about spoiling the atmos …