Today we celebrate the birthday of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a student, and practitioner of non-violence. His teachers were Jesus Christ and Mahatma Gandhi.
May all our hearts embrace the teachings of non-violence and peace from this day forward.
As an educator and practicing Catholic, I call upon the strength of my faith to help guide me to follow the path established by Christ, Gandhi, and Dr. King. For it is their joint tutelage my spirit willingly pursues.
“Has anybody here seen my old friend Martin,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.”
“I worked on American Utopia while collecting a lot of Reasons To Be Cheerful material, and I have a feeling this material informs this set of songs. Many of us, I suspect, are not satisfied with the world we have made for ourselves. We look around and we ask ourselves—well does it have to be like this? Is there another way? These songs are about that looking and that asking.” -David Byrne
“These songs don’t describe this imaginary and possibly impossible place, but rather they attempt to describe the world we live in now—and that world, when we look at it, as we live in it, as it impacts on us—immediately commands us to ask ourselves- is there another way? A better way? A different way?
This group of songs is indirectly about those questions. And what drives us to ask those questions. The songs are sincere—the title is not ironic. The title is not so much about a utopia, as it is about our longing, frustration, aspirations, fears, hopes regarding what could be, what is possible. How and what could we be. Surely, we ask ourselves, it doesn’t have to be like this. There is a longing for the possibility— and I have a feeling that is what these songs touch on.
America—or to be correct the United States—was founded as a Utopian Experiment. Though it never did succeed in all its aims enough were realized in the brief history to give hope to many. Now it seems we are seeing that hope, those possibilities, be withdrawn. The project seems on the verge of complete and utter failure. So, naturally, we all now ask ourselves—was it too much to ask? Are we wrong about how humans can be? Is there another way? Can we start over?
I am as mystified as any of us—I have no prescriptions or sure-fire answers—but I sense that I am not the only one asking, wondering and still willing to hold on to some tiny bit of hope, still willing to not succumb entirely to despair or cynicism. It’s not easy, but music helps.
American Utopia fits hand-in-hand with Byrne’s vision for his series “Reasons To Be Cheerful,” named for the song by the late Ian Dury. Over the last year, Byrne has been collecting stories, news, ideas, and other items that all either embody or identify examples of things that inspire optimism, such as a tech breakthrough, a musical act, a new idea in urban planning or transportation—something seen, heard, or tasted. Just as the album questions the current state of society while offering solace through song, the content of the series recognizes the darkness and complexity of today while showcasing alternatives to the despair that threatens us.
This recording was Jerry Garcia’s fourth solo studio record and the first to be presented as the Jerry Garcia Band which included Garcia, John Kahn, Ron Tutt, Maria Muldaur, and Garcia’s Grateful Dead bandmates, Keith & Donna Godchaux.
The 2017 vinyl reissue features re-mastered audio by Fred Kevorkian with lacquers cut by Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios and pressed to 180gram marbled gold vinyl by Quality Record Pressings. The Marbled Gold vinyl is pressed in a limited edition of 5,000 pieces with individually numbered foil-stamped jackets.
“Cats Under the Stars is my favorite one. That’s the one that I’m happiest with, from every point of view in which I operate on that record.” – Jerry Garcia (1981 interview with David Gans and Blair Jackson)
Forty-three years ago in December 1973, Frank Zappa played a series of legendary concerts at the famed Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Considered a high-water mark of his career, owing to the incredible, virtuosic performances of himself and his stellar band The Mothers, the five shows – across three nights – included a private invite-only performance/soundcheck/film shoot followed by back-to-back doubleheaders. A few days later, continuing this incredibly prolific week, Zappa brought his band and camera crew to Ike Turner’s Bolic Sound in Inglewood for a filmed recording session. In typical Zappa fashion, he recorded it all.
On February 2, 2018, Zappa Records/UMe will release The Roxy Performances, a definitive seven-CD box set that collects all four public shows from December 9-10, 1973, and the December 8th film shoot/soundcheck, each presented in their entirety for the first time, along with bonus content featuring rarities from a rehearsal, unreleased tracks and highlights from the Bolic Studios recording session. This complete collection, totaling nearly eight hours, documents the Roxy shows as they happened and presents brand new 2016 mixes by Craig Parker Adams from new 96K 24 Bit transfers of the multi-track masters. The set is rounded out with a 48-page booklet that includes photos from the performances, extensive liner notes by Vaultmeister Joe Travers, essays from Zappa family friend, Australian writer Jen Jewel Brown, and American singer/songwriter Dave Alvin, who give their firsthand recollections about the shows, and a selection of archival press reviews. Those who digitally pre-order the box set will receive an instant grat download of “RDNZL.” Culled from the very first show on December 9, the track is a live version of the classic song featuring the never-before-heard 2016 mix that exemplifies the sonics of the new box set. Pre-order The Roxy Performances now: http://ume.lnk.to/FrankZappaRoxy
The Roxy Performances capture Zappa and The Mothers in peak condition as they play to rowdy sold-out crowds in the intimate, just-opened venue in their hometown Los Angeles following the release of Over-Nite Sensation. The extraordinary band was one of Zappa’s best with keyboardist George Duke, bassist Tom Fowler, trombonist Bruce Fowler, tenor saxophonist and vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock, percussionist Ruth Underwood and drummers Ralph Humphrey and Chester Thompson all flawlessly in lockstep as Zappa led them through his musically adventurous compositions filled with complicated time signatures and sudden tempo changes.
Moving into 2018, I reflect upon the music released 50 years ago in 1968. This was the year I started collecting records and reading Rolling Stone in earnest. The cover story of Shindig! Magazine, Issue 75, January 2018 features a smartly designed psychedelic cover to commiserate the era.
Some of the more interesting albums released in January 1968 according to Wikipedia were, Vincebus Eruptum by Blue Cheer which gave us heavy metal.
Spirit’s début album.
The first album from Canadian rock group, Steppenwolf.
In the waning days of the year 2017, I have finally found the Top 10 Albums List that enriches the music of our heart. I had searched high and low this past week, looking across music genres, perusing Rolling Stone, Jazz Times, the NY Times, Paste Magazine, etc.
I happened upon a tweet this morning from the LA Times. Nestled within various music writers list I finally turned over the right rock in the backyard to show the treasures I had sought.
The Music of Our Heart music blog recognizes Randy Lewis, LA Times Pop Music Writer’s Top 10 List. His column was forthright with several gems among the classics.
Wishing all my readers, friends and family a safe, healthy and prosperous 2018.
Randy Lewis’s Top 10 (Copyright Los Angeles Times 12/30/2017)
2. Sparks, “Hippopotamus” (BMG/the End Records). Long-running L.A. art-rock siblings Ron and Russell Mael have crafted another bevy of brilliant observations on the minutiae of human ambition and frailty that say a lot about the big picture of life.
3. Robert Plant, “Carry Fire” (Nonesuch). Continuing his lifelong exploration of music from many lands, Plant revels in the nuance of that pliant voice and its interplay with a coterie of master musicians.
4. Rhiannon Giddens, “Freedom Highway” (Nonesuch).Giddens could wring emotional drama singing the ingredients from a box of Cheerios; fortunately, her ear for great songs matches her seemingly limitless skill as a vocalist, proved again with a powerful collection of songs by turn political, social and deeply personal.
5. Chris Hillman, “Bidin’ My Time” (Rounder). Thank goodness this founding member of the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Desert Rose Band took Tom Petty up on his offer to co-produce a new album, in which Hillman blends songs new and old in consistently spine-tingling performances.
6. Neil Finn, “Out of Silence” (EMI). The Crowded House singer and songwriter rehearsed and recorded this solo outing during sessions he live-streamed, allowing the most ardent of his fans to witness the album’s creation in real time. The result is another infectiously melodic, emotionally vibrant work.
7. Rose Cousins, “Natural Conclusion” (Old Farm Pony). A powerful exploration of what it means to be human: loneliness, freedom, yearning for connection, the expectations we hold for ourselves and hopes we maintain for others. A beautiful collection.
8. Bob Dylan, “Triplicate” (Columbia). Dylan tripled down on his walk through the Great American Songbook with three more albums paying homage to his predecessors who defined American popular music. He and his band dig to the powerful blues core of songs often treated by others as museum pieces.
9. Taylor Swift, “Reputation” (Big Machine). Swift’s sixth studio album extends and expands on her artistic ambitions, homing in with her most cohesive set yet, and one that lets us in on not just her very public life, but our own obsession with living our lives out on social media. Smart and assured as ever.
10. Chuck Berry, “Chuck” (Dualtone). The swan song from one of rock ’n’ roll’s founding fathers was recorded over a period of 40 years and provides him with a worthy victory lap. It’s full of great guitar licks, snappy wordplay and more than a little hard-won wisdom picked up through his remarkable 90-year journey.
For all of you, Donovan fans out there, a note from his Website:
Welcome to Radio Atlantis, our new way to share with you the Donovan Legacy of over 700 songs, 35 released albums, and a recently discovered audio and video lost archive. BURIED TREASURES.
Hundreds of never before released analog master-tapes, transferred to the highest quality digital, some available vinyl, and never before seen Filmworks. New works will be released also.
We will be presenting many Features. On-Line Concerts, Poetry, Autobiography and Audio Book Readings, our Artworks, and Lectures on the various subjects that our work has explored through my poetry and music.
RADIO ATLANTIS is not broadcasting each day yet one can replay any Feature anytime. Each Feature will present one album and the theme of that album, plus my books, DVD’s, artworks, films and Live Historical concerts. Let me know what you think of RADIO ATLANTIS on Facebook and Twitter.