Monday, January 31, 2011

JELLYFISH - San Francisco, CA 1993

Today's post will wrap up my epic Jellyfish streak -- the longest by a single act that I've ever done -- and I hope convincingly rest my case for them as a tremendous live band. I would have dearly loved to see them at The Warfield, one of the best music venues in San Francisco, Jellyfish's hometown and my absolute favorite city in these United (or is it Untied?) States.

I should be a "Child of the '80s" due to my age, but I'm most assuredly not. Unlike many of my peers, who pine ceaselessly for those halcyon days, I tend to be far more nostalgic about the early to mid-'90s, which roughly coincided with my early to mid-20s, i.e. my sex-drugs-and-rock-'n'-roll years. In fact, just about 20 years ago now I had a hellacious psychedelic experience at The Warfield during a Blues Traveler show (in brief: mushrooms, pot and dehydration don't mix. I just took a big swig of cool water after writing that sentence; a lesson learned once and never forgotten!)

I found the '80s -- at the time and far more so now -- to be rather a barren wasteland of pop culture, especially musically, not to mention politically: a decade that began with the murder of John Lennon and the election of Ronald Reagan is by its very nature not a good decade.

The early '90s, on the other hand, brought a swift corrective in the form of grunge (not to mention Bill Clinton) and stayed strong until about 1999, when the inevitable decline set in with all the vapid pop tarts, boy band retardoids and nĂ¼-metal meatheads.

Man, how I wish these much-missed Jellies would bury the hatchet and get it together...we could use them now more than ever! But until then...

The Warfield - San Francisco, CA - July 7, 1993 (SBD @320kbps)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

JELLYFISH - Frankfurt, Germany 1991

And we're back. More Jelly for ya on a Tuesday afternoon; this one goes out to Anonymous, who wrote in asking for...more Jellyfish!

Here we're blessed with a complete concert from what sounds like a rather modestly sized club in Frankfurt, on the Euro leg of their tour promoting the ever-tasty debut LP Bellybutton. The show was pro-recorded for German TV, so this DVD rip sounds just wunderbar.

In addition to all the incredible music (bonus: plenty of cover tunes!), this one amusingly climaxes with a persistent, loudmouthed American fan being told just what to do.

Work calls, gotta hop -- more Jelly for your belly soon!

Music-Hall - Frankfurt, Germany - April, 1991 (SBD)

Oh, and...GO PACK GO!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

BEN SOMMER - "America'd" Album, 2011

Taking a break from Jellyfish for a minute, this is a first for me: endorsing a brand-new artist's brand-new album. But I must say that this Ben Sommer is rather an interesting cat. If the measure of a good album is the desire to listen to it five times in a row without blinking, then this is 34 minutes of pure "edgy, political prog rock" goodness -- maybe, I daresay, even greatness.

The plentiful nods to Rush, Yes, the Who, Van Halen and especially Zappa -- sometimes in the same song -- are as whimsical and witty as they are utterly unsubtle. I'm all for unsubtle, in case you haven't noticed. The playing, production and arrangement, down to the harmony vocals, are top-notch.

And if you never thought you could sing along to choruses that go "Itchy-kitchy-kitchy-koo, waah-waah!" and "Thread-count fetish, thread-count fetish, oh-whoa-oh...," then all I can say is, think again. This political prog rock is brainy and complex stuff, sure, but it's also catchy as hell. Even the obligatory rap parody, "Kill the Estrogen Queens," brings some serious Funkadelic flava. Some listeners might find it offensive, but speaking as someone who believes that over the past 15 years or so hip-hop has mutated into an unkillable cancer on popular culture, you'll hear no such complaints from me...

Even after multiple listens it's tough for me to tell where exactly the satirical Mr. Sommer places himself on the political spectrum, which I'm quite sure is the point. When he sings about Henry Kissinger, based on the funny lyrics he sounds as if he's aware of the fact -- not widely believed, apparently, but a fact nonetheless -- that Kissinger is a vile pig of a war criminal on whose orders a million people were slaughtered for no reason. But I couldn't tell you for sure! As a dug-in Repuglican hater -- yes, I did say hater, and I mean that shit too -- I'd be damn curious to find out where Mr. Sommer's head is really at. Maybe next album?

He's an educated East Coaster, which makes him a homeboy to me and an enemy to the GOP. On his website Mr. Sommer teasingly IDs himself as "libertarian," but the definition thereof has always struck me as spongy at best, especially these days. At least half of the Tea Party psychos call themselves "libertarians," yet last November these "fiercely independent" yahoos happily voted in the same breed of assholic country club Repuglican that drove this country into the shitter in the first place. (John Boehner thanks you all, by the way.)

Anyway! Good times.

So, to grab America'd, head to the below link to DL the individual tracks, or -- why not? Trust me! -- actually buy the album in exciting new Compact Disc format.

You'll be damn glad you did, America!

America'd - 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

JELLYFISH - San Juan Capistrano, CA 1993

As promised, more live Jelly fo' ya.

This one is an FM recording of a sweet show down San Juan Capistrano way, plus four bonus tracks from various 1990-'91 Cali dates. It amply proves how surprisingly strong this band of consummate studio rats was in a live setting; the musicianship and especially the harmonies are note-perfect.

A weekend of work calls, so that's all...for now.

"California Dreaming"
Coach House - San Juan Capistrano, CA - April 4, 1993 (FMB)