Monday, February 20, 2017

Nirvanaversary

I've been neglecting this page due to a lot of personal stuff, but I'm up at 3 am doing this in case my internet gets shut off in the morning. If it stays on I will try to catch up to the dozen or so deaths that have happened since the end of January, but right now let's focus on someone's birthday whilst I am still connected.
I can't believe how the time has gone by. It seems only last week, but in reality it has been 23 years since his untimely departure from this pathetic realm we call life. Fifty years ago today he joined the human race for a brief, but ultimately fruitful, stay.
Who was Kurt Cobain? Tortured, unwilling rock star? Prototypical angry young man? Hardcore drug abuser? The Last of the Big Time Songwriters? Tragic "27 Club" member? None, or all, of the above? There are as many answers as there are lingering questions.
One thing is certain: his music definitely leaves a mark, even a quarter century from the moment he put the CD of King Crimson's Red -- the discerning suicidalist's choice -- on the stereo in his attic playroom, shot up smack one last time and then blew his brains all over Seattle. The joke being that Progressive Rock will make anyone want to end their life, rather than endure one more sidelong epic about mountains coming out of the sky in 21/8 time.
All joking aside -- insert comment about who wouldn't want to kill themselves, married to Courtney Love? here -- this is surely one of the most enigmatic figures in the pantheon and the author of way too many now-standard tunes to discount or make light of. I mean, I am not really even a huge fan, but I'm sitting here in the middle of the night doing this.
Everyone knows the backstory: the hopeless and homeless adolescence in Washington State, the ascent to iconic status, the unwilling deification as standard bearer of Grunge rock, the descent to self-destruction. It's hard with anyone who is dead at 27 to pinpoint what might have been, and sometimes even harder to discern what in fact was.
I can't pretend to have any insight; like I said, I am not an expert and only really recognized the extent of his prodigious talents when that insane "MTV Unplugged" broadcast aired and altered everyone's molecular structure. By then, he was only weeks away from his ugly demise.
I remember the news reports from this Italian tour -- an smoldering gig of which you'll find at the bottom of this page -- where he OD'd and had to be put into the hospital near death. It seemed like days later he had escaped from rehab and ended his life in that playroom above the garage. It all happened very fast, like an inexorable tidal wave of doom.
I remember thinking about why this wretched world can't ever seem to take care of people like him... about how they are inevitably surrounded by the vampires who want what they have but don't have the talent or the skills to get it for themselves. About how this world seems to love what they do, but doesn't seem to love them. About how all too often they are stripped bare and sacrificed on the twin altars of ephemeral, fleeting fame and empty, nurtureless fortune.
More than anything, I remember thinking how awful it was that his then-newborn daughter would never know her father, himself an idol to millions who also never knew him. Or at least him as he really was, beyond the hypefest of the music industry and its army of vampires. About how she would be taken care of for life, in a way her dad never would be, and how that was no substitute for the presence of family in the life of a child.
It all seems so very long ago, yet so fresh and recent somehow. Most of all, I remember thinking that this person was my age, and how fragile it all can be, and how it can all go to waste in the flicker of an eyelash or the pull of the shotgun trigger. Now that we've both turned 50 -- me last October, him today -- it seemed appropriate to put him amongst the giants I feature here, and acknowledge his lasting, eternal impact on the music of our era.
Nirvana
Palaghiaccio
Rome, Italy
2.22.1994
(JWB remaster)

01 Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
02 Drain You
03 Breed
04 Serve the Servants
05 Come As You Are
06 Smells Like Teen Spirit
07 Sliver
08 Dumb
09 Run to the Hills (Jam)
10 In Bloom
11 About a Girl
12 Lithium
13 Pennyroyal Tea
14 School
15 Polly
16 Very Ape
17 Lounge Act
18 Rape Me
19 Territorial Pissings
20 All Apologies
21 On a Plain
22 Scentless Apprentice
23 Heart-Shaped Box
24 Demolition (Jam)

Total time: 1:15:47

Kurt Cobain - guitar & vocals
Krist Novoselic - bass
Dave Grohl - drums
Melora Creager - cello

JWB remaster of the bootleg CD "XXII II MCMXCIV," containing the only complete soundboard-sourced recording of the "In Utero" tour
468 MB FLAC here
This is a very representative tape of this band despite the downward spiral and the sonics rate an 11 out of 10, thanks to the efforts of the estimable audio boffin known as JWB... I altered nothing but the titles and tags of the files and the accompanying explanatory text. All in all, as tasty-sounding as an official release and a fairly definitive window into what made and continues to make Nirvana so revered. Pull it down and as you do, please celebrate the 50th birthday of Kurt Cobain, who didn't last long on our sorry world, but contributed mightily to our enjoyment of it nonetheless.--J.
2.20.1967 - 4.5.1994

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Bosporus Festival

It's a brand new month, and the anniversary of the passing of one of my all-time favorites. I was going to put this up on his birthday last January 2nd, but it wasn't finished and you know me... I will share no Turkish psychedelia before its time.
I have worked on this tape for 11 years anyway and it's about time I finished the sucker. It's a long story but it all started, like so many tales, on the very Internet upon which you find yourself at the moment.
It was a dark and stormy night... no, it likely was pretty calm and warm, as I live in Northern California. I was surfing around the web looking for clues when I stumbled upon a blog page devoted to a genre of music I at that point had no idea existed.
When I discovered this hidden territory, life would never be the same. You see, up to that point I thought The Funk was a purely Western phenomenon, with a focal point somewhere between Detroit and Oakland. The idea that other, far-flung cultures had assimilated it, and had fed their own influences and styles back into it, had been largely lost on me.
Then, that blog page. In the span of about an hour, I had been hipped to the entire universe of Turkish Funk and Psych... or at least an introductory online course had been audited. I learned about names like Fikret Kizilok, Cem Karaca and Erkin Koray. Bands like Mogollar and the Bunalim. At the top of this mountain of unbelievably mind expanding sounds stood one man, whom I would learn was and is the most beloved musician in the history of Turkey.
He is the Frank Sinatra of that country, crossed with its Jimi Hendrix. In the 1960s through his death on this day in 1999, Barış Manço set the standard for Anatolian Rock, producing records and songs so groovingly deep that had Bam, Herc and Flash been born in the Bosporus and not in the Bronx, all of hip-hop might have been based on his music and not that of James Brown and George Clinton.
It's all really astounding that this kind of music ever existed, or was allowed to exist, at all. When the preponderance of it was recorded and released, Turkey was in the throes of the latest in a succession of military dictatorships. That Manço and his cohorts were allowed to do what they did, dressed and coiffed like they were, and that he himself became the most revered name in Turkish musical history doing it is truly one of the all-time mysteries.
My friend described this music, when I dropped it on him recently, as a cross between the Islamic call to prayer and Frankie Beverly's MAZE. That's the most accurate way to say it, honestly. The ridiculous riddims that have one foot in the Taksim beat and one foot in the music of Funkadelic around 1971, laced up and down with vintage analog synthesizer textures out of a Beaver and Krause record courtesy of Barış himself... I swear he is the Bernie Worrell of Istanbul on these sides, no exaggeration.
And the tunes, the tunes, the tunes. I have had many revisions of this tape over the years, and when it all began back in 2006 I had to make several copies for a friend who claimed every time I'd give him another one, his latest houseguest from overseas would make off with the CD. Another friend, who is into languages, got a copy and a year later he was here telling me what all the songs were about... because he had been inspired to learn Turkish from the ground up.
Ah, yes... the tunes. Most of the songs of Barış Manço are mystical songs of devotion to an indeterminate, idealized mate, or fantasias about Turkey's vast folkloric tradition cast through the 1970s Funk prism. The one at the top of the page today is a prog rock song about the mysterious figure Mehmet Ağa, which is kind of the Turkish equivalent of "John Doe" or the everyman in the West.
So yeah, I worked super hard on this to complete it and a special shoutout goes to my friend Thomas in NYC, whose invitation to the private BT tracker that replaced what.cd allowed me to access two of this man's albums from the early 1980s that are as hard to find as any single piece for which I have ever quested... and I've quested a little bit. Once I could include tunes from those the thing really took shape, and now I'd put it up against any prospective compilation as definitively representative of the Golden Period of Barış Manço, spanning 1970-1983.
Barış Manço
Dağlarda dans partisi
(1970-1983)

CD1
01 Ölüm Allahın Emri
02 Sarı Çizmeli Mehmet Ağa
03 Gönül Dağı
04 Lambaya Püf De
05 Kalk Gidelim Küheylan
06 Acıh'da Bağa Vir
07 Kol Basti II
08 Taksim
09 Aynalı Kemer İnce Bele
10 Alla Beni Pulla Beni (with Deniz Tüney)
11 W.A. Mozart (with Moğollar)
12 İşte Hendek İşte Deve
13 Gamzedeyim Deva Bulmam
14 Ham Meyvayu Kopardilar Dalindani
15 Basultan
16 Nazar Eyle
17 Dönence
18 Selahaddin Eyyubi´nin Yegeni Aslan Yürekli Risar´in Kiz Kardesine Karsi

CD2
01 Yeni Bir Gün
02 Adem Oğlu Kızgın Fırın Havva Kızı Mercimek (with Deniz Tüney)
03 Kervan
04 Kol Basti I
05 Kazma
06 Gülme Ha Gülme
07 Ali Yazar Veli Bozar
08 Dağlar Dağlar
09 Ben Bilirim
10 Emerald Garden
11 Bir Selam Sana Gönül Dağlarından
12 Binboğanın Kızı (with Moğollar)
13 Vur Ha Vur
14 Yol Verin Ağalar Beyler
15 Hal Hal
16 Gelinlik Kizlarin Dansi
17 Ne Köy Olur Benden Ne De Kasaba
18 Aman Yavaş! Aheste
19 Estergon Kalesi

Total time: 2:19:10

Compiled and remastered from various strange reissues from around the world by EN
820 MB FLAC here
315 MB 320K mp3s here
This was probably the hardest I've ever worked on one of these tapes to make it sound all like one thing... I slavered over nearly every track to make the source material -- gleaned from a million reissues from around the globe, many of which were needledrop transfers because the master tapes were lonnnnng gone -- be the best it could possibly be. Anyhow I'll be back on the weekend with more memorials to the fallen, but if I were you I'd get what I have shared here... it ain't sold in stores, that's fasho. As you acquire the taste, remember Barış Manço, who left us this day 18 years ago but whose otherworldly, completely unique music will groove on forever. Keyfini çıkarın! --J.
1.2.1943 - 2.1.1999