Outsight

Meet The Drake

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Outsight brings to light non-mainstream music, film, books, art, ideas and opinions.



Published, somewhere, monthly since July 1991. Feel free to re-print this article.



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</font>NEWS AND VIEWS **************************


</font> A RE-INTRODUCTION TO NICK DRAKE


Nick Drake has an eerie, melancholy feel to his folk-pop. Each song could be

misted rays of hope breaking through from a recent cry. This moody atmosphere

combined with a history of reclusion and mental instability culminating in a

lethal antidepressant overdose, either suicide or accident, guaranteed

a cult following. Rykodisc helped foster that following with the 1994 compilation

Way to Blue: An Introduction to Nick Drake. This album compiles material

from the singer-songwriter’s three albums including the song “Pink Moon”. That

song’s appearance in a 2000 Volkswagen commercial gave the Drake songbook new

popularity. Universal Music Group is reissuing the

Way to Blue package along with each of the singer’s albums. These all came

out on Island originally and the reissues are part of the Universal

Chronicles</a> series. His debut album Five Leaves Left patented the

Drake sound and hopeless lyrics like “life is but a memory…happened long ago”.

This is from “Fruit Tree”, the poignant commentary on fame that also became

the name for the Drake box set. Bryter Layter is somewhat peppier. This

is mostly due to the rhythm section, some string arrangements and some tinkling

piano. In front of all this with his acoustic guitar, Drake is unchanged. The

final album in this trilogy is the stark Pink Moon. He recorded it unaccompanied

and dropped the tapes in the mail. It is quintessential Nick Drake, a beautiful

sadness that still resonates today… </p>


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INNOVA INNOVATIONS


Innova is more than an amazing label of inventive,

modern music. It is the dynamic curator of America’s innovative composers, preserving

excellent music by pressing sophisticated and passionate experiments onto CD

regardless of commercial possibility. New on the label is George Cartwright’s

GloryLand PonyCat, made possible through underwriting through the American

Composers Forum’s Recording Assistance Program. (The two organizations are

closely affiliated.) This saxophone trio waxes and wanes between wild but not

unstructured free jazz and tight, melodic episodes. This is a cogent statement

of Cartwright’s “punk jazz,” a spirited approach to jazz. Cartwright

is the saxophonist in Curlew, for the record… The compilation Haunted America

is three world premiers from Jerome Kitzke, Michael Torke and Kimmo Hakola performed

by the Present Music ensemble. This large group is a small jazz orchestra. Kitzke’s

is the title piece and the orchestra members vocalize on the theme of a triumphant,

almost desperate answer to Allen Ginsberg’s poem “America”. Ginsberg would have

appreciated Torke’s “Song of Isaiah”. Like the biblical prophet, Ginsberg fought

apparent social and moral decay with lamenting poems and utopian hope. As Barbara

Michelman says in her poem On the Death of Allen Ginsberg and Other Irrelevant

Events</i>, “He howled like Isaiah/into the wilderness,/Howled at the madness/spilling

across America”. The music of the Torke piece sounds neo-classical compared

to Kitzke with soprano Cheryl Bensman Rowe delivering the vocals in a modern,

post-operatic style. Kimmo Hakola conducts the ensemble through his Chamber

Concerto</i> through the rest of the CD. This is a moody, post-classical work, a

fitting background for musing upon the thoughts suggested by the first two pieces…

Gao Hong takes us around the world on Flying Dragon. This CD is mostly

instrumental duets of Gao on pipa, an Oriental lute, with sitar, flute

and shakuhachi… </p>


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SISTERS ARE DOIN’ IT FOR THEMSELVES


Singer-songwriter Rhonda Everitt has a warm, likeable voice that recalls Natalie

Merchant. She is the center of the band Rhe

and is heard, excellently framed by piano-based pop rock, on Fairy Tales and

Happy Endings</i> (Reach For The Sky)… Lisa Madison offers pop colored at times

with jazz and then blues and then rock and then something else on the solid

and very professional Kiss The Sun (Rhombus

Records</a>). This includes a reggae-touched version of “Imagine”. This is a

Microsoft HDCD recording and as such has peerless sound quality… Vanessa

Renée</a> recalls Tori Amos and Kate Bush in her own vocal-oriented piano songs.

You can hear her rich trove of song on Stones (Rising Siren Records)…

Natalie Flanagan entertains with intimate, personally delivered songs on the

simply titled Let (One Way

Productions</a>). Her AAA path is fringed with the rambling roses of country

rock for an unornamented but rooted style, plain and direct. Anny

Celsi</a> has a great pulp fiction theme in the packaging and liner notes to

Little Black Dress & Other Stories (Ragazza Music). However, the aesthetic

quality of the music is of a much higher quality: that is, hit material folk

pop. There is an especially bright string of memorable songs in the title track,

“Summer Fling” and “Day After Tomorrow”… Bonnie

Hayes</a> wrote songs for Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, David Crosby, Booker T.

& The MG’s and more. Hear her performing her own, full, upbeat pop-country songs

on Love in the Ruins (Bondage Records)…

EG Kight is a potent blues vocalist and

guitar player that will win over fans of Bonnie Raitt. Her CD Southern Comfort

(Blue South Records) is mostly swinging, upbeat electric blues. It waxes especially

poignant on her moving rendition of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery”… Kat

Terran</a> has a highly varied album of acoustic and electric pop rock with

stringed instruments in support (cello, violin, upright bass). This excellent

collection of songs is called Lion & Blue (Little Roar Records)… Either

Ani DiFranco has had that big of an impact on the singer-songwriter scene, or

she has had that big of an impact on me. Either way, I hear a new compelling

artist each month that brings Ani to mind. This month, it is Allison

Tartalia</a>. Allison is much more than an occasionally funky, hip neo-folk

artist with a snappy vocal delivery though. She also can sing in rich, pop-blues

style and adds a jazzy touch to her music with horns. Check out her album called

Ready (Make Haste! Records)… </p>


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</p>


TWISTED SISTER REUNITES FOR USO, U.S AND EUROPE TOUR


Twisted Sister is officially reuniting after more than 16 years apart. The classic

lineup revisiting the stage is lead vocalist Dee Snider, co-lead guitarist/vocalist

Jay Jay French, co-lead guitarist/vocalist Eddie Ojeda, bass guitarist/vocalist

Mark “The Animal” Mendoza and drummer/vocalist A.J. Pero. Having concluded USO

shows in South Korea this May, there are now select headlining dates in the United

States and Europe this summer. A DVD from the summer shows, along with behind-the-scenes

and heritage footage, is being planned for a fall release. Several record labels

have approached Twisted Sister about making a studio album, but right now there

are no plans to release a new one.


The set list for the tour will feature all the hits and fan favorites like “We’re

Not Gonna Take It,” “I Wanna Rock,” “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll,” “I Am (I’m

Me)” and “Under the Blade” from the albums Under

the Blade</a>, You

Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll</a>, Stay

Hungry</a> </i>and Come

Out and Play</a></i>. Twisted Sister has sold more than 10 million records worldwide,

earning the band 33 gold and platinum certifications from across the globe.



Since disbanding in 1987 after 15 years together, Twisted Sister had only performed

together once. This was when the group headlined the NY Steel benefit concert

in November 2001 for firefighters and police officers after the tragic terrorist

attacks of September 11, 2001. French was amazed at both the response of the

fans at that show and how well Twisted Sister played after just three rehearsals.

Then, over the next 18 months, momentum had started to build regarding an official

reunion. Phil Carson, Twisted Sister’s longtime friend, manager and record company

executive, came to French with a proposal for a tour this summer. Twisted Sister

will headline an Independence Day weekend celebration on Saturday, July 5 at

Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. A special guest appearance with Alice

Cooper and Def Leppard is scheduled for Friday, July 18 at the Chippewa Falls

Music Festival in Chippewa Falls, WI. Other U.S. headlining dates will follow.

Twisted Sister then returns to Europe for more headline dates, commencing with

a festival in Spain on Friday, August 29.


DVD REVIEWS **


Wesley Willis

The Daddy of Rock ‘n’ Roll

MVD


This video documentary could be titled A Day in the Life of Wesley Willis.

We follow Willis around on his various duties as he consigns CDs, records songs

(at an optimum 2:50 length), tests the patience of Kinko’s staff and patrons,

hangs out with his friends/support network and rocks the crowd from the stage.

Willis’ eccentricity and scatological/cartoon/commercial-influenced hard rock

shouted shorts are legendary. Plenty of this music is in the DVD along with

the entertaining look at what Willis does with his time and thus how he functions.

Very energetic, Willis seems to talk continuously through the flick and often

waxes autobiographical, explaining the genesis of his own mental condition

seems to be a favorite topic. His frequent use of profanity on mass transit

and in public places gets him into a lot less trouble than one might think but

it becomes part of the show in the non-stop fiasco on this entertaining

glimpse into someone that needs to rock, for his own well-being. Special

features include an interview with Steve Albini (one of Willis’ many song subjects)

along with deleted scenes, an animated short and more. (3.5)

</p>

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Too Short

T*tty City

Shoot II Films/ MVD


This hour-long Too Short video is an X-rated cable production touring the world

of Atlanta topless clubs and the decadent excess enjoyed by Too Short and his

extended crew. There are plenty of exposed breasts (and more), and that is the

main point here. For instance, the few live clips of Too Short do not even have

good production. Other celebrities here from the Georgia rap scene and beyond

include Scarface, Lil Jon, Petey Pablo, Slim Calhoun and more. Extras on this

wild, “off the chain” DVD include trailers for pimp documentaries The Game

and Pimpology. (3)

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Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart)

Some YoYo Stuff

MVD


This is Anton Corbijn’s short (13 minutes) black-and-white film from 1993. It

is a personal and revealing looking at the former master of Dadaist rock. Through

the cryptic answers and strange metaphors, the man sounds so broken and old-beyond-his-years

that it can be difficult to take in, as if this were too personal and revealing

to be enjoyed from a DVD. Still, it is one of the few windows (if even only

a keyhole) allowed into the life of Don Van Vliet since his 1982 retirement

from music. Don’s mother introduces the film and filmmaker David Lynch makes

a running appearance as the questioner. (4)

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Long John Baldry

Live in Concert

Inakustik/ MVD


This 1993 German concert from the tall bluesman with the deep voice comes in

between the two Stony Plain albums It Still Ain’t Easy (1991) and On

Stage Tonight: Baldry’s Out</i> (1993). It makes a nice companion piece to these two

CDs, because of the similar arrangements and some of the same material, like

“Shake that Thing”, “Everyday I Have the Blues”, “Insane Asylum” and “Do You

Wanna Dance?”. The powerful rendition of Dixon’s “Insane Asylum” is the first

song in the set featuring Kathi McDonald. She really belts out this song with

feeling and power, recalling how her long collaboration with Baldry has made

her integral to some of his best material. She shows her softer side on “I’d

Rather Go Blind”. Baldry and McDonald duet excellently on “A Thrill’s A Thrill”

and the folk-blues styled “Black Girl”. (4.5)

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Noam Chomsky

Distorted Morality

Silent Films/Epitaph


Noam Chomsky is an insightful and lucid academic with a worthy message from

the rational left. However, Chomsky delivers his worthy message in a dry monotone.

The documentary Manufacturing Consent battled the Chomsky boredom aura

with interesting visuals. However, this videotaped college talk has none of

that eye-catching collage. Still, it is worthwhile to pay attention to the whole

thing and get some non-mainstream background on the “War on Terror.” Chomsky’s

talk was titled “War on Terrorism?” Note the question mark. Chomsky uses basic

principles of logic and such respected sources as The New York Times

to draw his conclusion that the American activity in the Middle East, before

and after 9/11, is itself terrorism based on the U.S. Army’s own definition

of that approach to applied violence. Fortunately, the DVD features an hour-long

question and answer period that goes deeper on key points and finds Chomsky

much more animated, now that he is off his script. Unfortunately, there is no

way to let this Q&A period run as an uninterrupted feature. Each question must

be entered manually through the DVD’s menu. (4)

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Slaughter & The Dogs

Cranked up Really High

Cherry Red Films


Slaughter & The Dogs began releasing punk rock records in the late ’70s. This

puts the group in the very first wave of the genre and indeed they started by

supporting The Sex Pistols. However, the name Slaughter & The Dogs does not

often come up when thinking of the architects of the genre, like The Sex Pistols,

The Damned, etc. Beside the fact the group had only one internationally released

LP (Bite Back, 1980), Slaughter & The Dogs espoused a heavier angrier

sound that had more to do with the birth of Oi than the more accessible even

pop-influenced punk strain that achieved predominance. This DVD is the group

in performance at the 1996 Holidays in the Sun festival in Blackpool, England

and includes interviews. (3.5)

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Demented Are Go

Sick! Sick! Sick!/Call of the Wired

Cherry Red Films


At the very forefront of the psychobilly movement, Demented Are Go began releasing

records in the mid-‘80s. Thanks to the (hopefully) typified dementia by Mark

“Sparky” Phillips, the lead vocalist of this slap bass-based quartet, this may

be the most demented of the genre. (Phillips is notoriously difficult to work

with and thus the only constant member to the group.) Apparently, the group

members’ wild off-stage behavior matches their crazy on-stage personae and after

watching these two concerts, you may want to scour the Internet where it is

easy to find the morbid tales. The two concerts here, each previously released,

were recorded in 1987 and 1994. This DVD brings them together on one recording.

As such, this is a vivid document of this unique blend of Gothic rockabilly

punk. (3.5) </p>


VINYL REVIEWS ****************************


Bassholes

Out in the Treetops

Dead Canary Records


One could call donuts the “missing centers” to describe them by what they are

lacking. So the garage and blues guitars/drums duo Bassholes is named after

the typical rock combo instrument it lacks. Bassholes reaches back to the primitive

blues duo combination used by such artists as Lightning Hopkins in the personnel

arrangement. Bassholes take us back to the juke joint days with their take on

“Stack O Lee” on this set of two 33 RPM 7” records. The group spans the distance

between Hopkins’ generation and today’s electric alt-blues powerhouses, like

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. This recording set also resonates with the early

days of ’60s power blues rock and Bassholes shows their affinity for that style

with clamorous covers of “Tattoo” (The Who) and “Raw Power” (The Stooges). Two

additional musicians flesh out the punk-styled rendition of “Raw Power” out.

(4)

</p>


Lyres

“Tear You Up” b/w “Felice Noddydod”

D.U.I. Records


Jeff “Monoman” Connolly continues to keep the first wave of garage revival alive

with his post-DMZ project Lyres. Wonderfully loose and inexact, this seven-inch

is an organ-fueled frenzy of sloppy rock for pure fun. On the B-side the group

renames itself Thee Headkotexes and uses soundbites taking the pure fun of the

A-Side up another notch for an irate phone conversation set to a smiling rock

instrumental. This song, “Felice Noddydod” is the garage rock analogue to Beastie

Boy’s “Cooky Puss”. (4.5)

</p>


CD REVIEWS ****************************


The Black Keys

Thickfreakness

Fat Possum


Just in case you thought Bassholes, Flat Duo Jets and The White Stripes were

alone in the guitar and drums duo combination, here is The Black Keys. Like

the other groups, the spare combo arrangement guides the sound toward a rugged,

post-blues rock primitivism. This group does have an alt-blues sound and pays

homage to the latest of the masters of basic groove trance blues by covering

Junior Kimbrough’s “Everywhere I Go”. (4)

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Fleshies

The Sicilian

Alternative Tentacles


This is the sophomore full-length from The Fleshies. The Sicilian, produced

by Alex Newport (Fudgetunnel, Theory Of Ruin, Ratos De Porao), finds the group

getting leaner, meaner and more aggro. Strain to make out the lyrics, or strain

to read the faint print of them in the CD booklet and you will see the group

is both intelligent and boasts a sense of humor. Guitars on over-drive and

an occasional comical falsetto combined with socially aware and witty lyrics

summons to mind NoMeansNo. (4)

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Baby Woodrose

Money for Soul

Bad Afro


This power soul trio has a psychedelic rock style with vocals out front and

crystalline in a blue-eyed R&B style. The Danish band performs

with two guitars and no bass. The guitars play with extra fuzz, adding sufficient

emphasis to the drummer’s rhythm so that no bass playing is required. This is very

much in the ’60s psych tradition. This is a new album from a very fresh band,

released just 18 months after the group’s inception. Already things gel very

well, as these guys are all obviously reading from the same record collection.

That collection includes Them, ? and the Mysterians and Iron Butterfly. Fans

of the Dionysus and Estrus rosters will appreciate this and the rest of Bad

Afro. (4)

</a> </p>


Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Fever to Tell

Universal Music/Interscope


Siren vocalist Karen O leads her rock deconstructionist trio with squealing

delight. The punk-styled sexual energy makes the group sound like a cross between

the earliest incarnations of Blondie and The Runaways. Their instruments could

be trashcans and junkyard guitars, the rock is so rugged on Fever to Tell.

The Brooklyn trio has no need of bass and makes due with a single guitar in

their unadorned punk rock that has hints of darkish Goth rock like the rugged

Australian punks bands The Birthday Party and such. There’s more to this band

then Karen O’s hip dresses and sexy bangs. Check out the music, because it is

all there. (4.5)

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Rubber City Rebels

Pierce My Brain

Smog Veil Records, 316 California Ave., #207, Reno, NV 89509


The title track here is the sort of cutting cynicism delivered with American

punk rock that makes this band worth turning off CNN for. If you get a chuckle

from Sloppy Seconds, you will know what I mean. “Pierce My Brain” pokes fun

at the tackle-box people that looked like they stuck their face in one. “Grip

of Fear” takes on all the fear motivators in our current alarmist society. Rubber

City Rebels even offer self-deprecating humor in “I Don’t Wanna be a Punk no

More”. Similar as the group is to Dead Boys, it offers the suitable eulogy “Dead

Boy (Eulogy for Stiv)”. (4)

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Mötley Crüe

Greatest Hits

Mötley Records/Hip-O Records


This is the first greatest hits package from the long-lived, popular metal act

Mötley Crüe. The group really later descended into a pale imitation of itself,

but this CD captures the highlights “Shout at the Devil ‘97”, “Looks that Kill”

and Crüe’s take on “Smokin’ in the Boys Room”. Most heavily represented are

the band’s MTV-era tracks from the albums Girls Girls Girls and Dr.

Feelgood</i> when Mötley Crüe was leading the spandex assault. Hearing this album

and looking back on it all, one is brought to ask, “After this, we still needed

Guns & Roses?” (3)

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The Chains

On Top of Things!

Get Hip


This Montreal band has got a big backbeat and exquisite songs with a harmonica-playing

lead vocalist. The band has a tight, focused, song-oriented style but with a

basic, unadorned garage rock delivery. There are hints of R&B and an easy, swinging

style to this music. That makes the album a real time capsule, but production

is top-notch, so it is modern where it counts. (3.5)

</a> </p>


The Deadly Snakes

Ode to Joy

In The Red Records


This In The Red band has a similar sound to another label on that roster: Dan

Melchior and the Broke Revue. The guitar band offers a very melodic, song-oriented

sound compared to many of their neo-garage and alt-blues peers. Horns and an

organ add Stax soul as well as an upbeat, party atmosphere. There are a half-dozen

Canadians on this record, playing all those instruments in this Toronto large ensemble

throwback to the ’60s. Much of the fully fleshed-out music is ripe for fueling

an all-night keg party. Such an example of premium frat rock is the anthemic

“Oh my Bride”. (4)

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U.S. Bombs

Covert Action

Hellcat Records


West coast punk legend Duane Peters leads his band through rousing street punk

songs that beg a sing-along. It is amazing how after so many years U.S. Bombs

can continue to create such great, old school punk. The group is also political,

but covering topics most other political bands are not at the moment, as evidenced

by “Croatia Breaks” and the inflammatory Oklahoma City bombing song “Framed”.

(4)

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</a>


Gossip

Movement

Kill Rock Stars


The second release from Gossip is a stunning gospel-soul-blues-punk ruckus.

Full of driving rhythm and undeniable energy this is as impressive a sophomore

effort as any. Movement is party music for when you don’t care if something

gets broke and something gets spilled. Put this in your CD player and press

play, and you open a whole can of fiery blooze punk with a mean, primitive bottom

end. (4)

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