Up the Downstair

Being a weeklie podcaste from Madison, Wisconsin featuring several remarkable curiosities therein occurring being a compendium of live music from divers artistes

Show #290: Krautrock (R.I.P. Jaki Liebezeit)

February 21st, 2017

can72 Show #290: Krautrock (R.I.P. Jaki Liebezeit)
(Photo found here.)

Last month Sound Opinions did a show which featured Krautrock, the German experimental rock genre that blended psychedelic music with minimalism, some jazz, and more. The musicians who developed it were the first generation of Germans to come of age after World War II and they were determined to come up with style all their own. They did so, developing one that largely eschewed the blues-rooted pop music of the time in favor of Stockhausen and the avant garde.

Though miles away from the symphonic progressive rock that fell in love with as a kid, Krautrock broadly falls under the prog banner. Or, if you prefer to keep the two separate, the genre is one also beloved by many prog fans. And so it was inevitable that I’d find my way into it at some point.

Sound Opinions’ hosts, Greg Kot and Jim Derogatis, gave a nice overview of Krautrock in their show. However, the program’s format only allowed for a fairly broad examination but not much depth. I found that I already knew some of what they said but a lot of the info was brand new to me.

I finally delved into Krautrock in the mid-90s when I bought a copy of Can’s Cannibalism, a compilation album covering 1969-1974. Honestly, I don’t know why I chose to dip my toe into the Teutonic waters via Can versus Faust or Neu! or any of the other Krautrock bands. Lo these many years later I am by no means well-versed in the genre. I’ve still got a lot of listening to do.

Of all the K-rock bands, I know Can the best. (Not that I know them well.) I love Faust’s manic pseudo-pop “It’s a Rainy Day (Sunshine Girl)” featuring a beat that just won’t quit. And then there’s Neu!’s “Hallogallo” with its steady drive that feels like cruising down the Autobahn with the windows down. Can, on the other hand, was darker and more akin to joining Willard on his venture up the Nung River. Despite Jaki Liebezeit’s precision drumming, a lot of Can’s songs still flowed freely, as if they could fall apart at any moment.

Just a few days before the Sound Opinions show aired Can’s drummer Jaki Liebezeit passed away at age 78. So it seemed like a good time to post a show featuring him behind the drum kit.

This performance took place at the Waldbühne in Berlin on 22 May 1972. By this time Damo Suzuki had replaced Malcolm Mooney on vocals. (I simply adore Can’s debut Monster Movie with Mooney.) Tago Mago, probably their most popular album, if a Can album can be called popular, had come out the year before while their next one, Ege Bamyasi was still months away from being released.

Improv > Vitamin C
Bring Me Coffee or Tea
Mother Sky
Peking O

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Here’s a nice video from YouTube of most, if not all, of a Can show from 3 February 1972 in Cologne. For more info on this incredible gig, check out this post from Dangerous Minds.

Show #289: In Memoriam – Greg Lake

February 8th, 2017

greg lake 2012 Show #289: In Memoriam   Greg Lake

Greg Lake’s name comes up a lot every December as a song he wrote with Pete Sinfield, “I Believe in Father Christmas”, gets a lot of airplay. 2016 was no exception, although, sadly, this time many his appearances of his name were in obituaries after his death on the 7th. That this happened less than a year after Keith Emerson’s death added another layer of sadness.

It is disheartening but I could probably fill up this podcast solely with shows by recently deceased performers this year and for many to come. I won’t be doing this but there are certainly musicians whose passing I have to note. And Greg Lake’s is certainly one.

He was an original member of King Crimson and a third of Emerson, Lake and Palmer which makes him one of the founding fathers of progressive rock. I won’t bore you with maudlin tales of how these bands were a beacon of light during some of my otherwise rather dark and lonely teenage times. But I will tell you that Crimson and ELP were amongst the first prog bands I investigated when I learned that there was this thing called progressive rock and that there was more to it than Genesis. Greg Lake’s voice was a big part of the chorus that is the soundtrack of my life.

After ELP disbanded in 1979, Lake made a couple of solo albums but his recorded output became rather sporadic and would be until his death. There were a couple ELP reunions but he seemed to occupy him mostly with touring. He hit the road with Ringo Starr, Keith Emerson, and his own band. In 2012 he went on the Songs of a Lifetime solo tour. It was just him, his instruments, and pre-recorded backing tracks. During these small scale shows Lake would regale the audience with stories plus answer questions/converse with them in addition to performing.

In such an intimate setting he comes across as an avuncular fellow, a regular guy. Three things stand out for me. First and almost tautological is that he loved music. He played more than his own tunes at the shows and talked about how meaningful music was to him. Along this same line Lake acknowledged his fans and how much his music meant to them. He seemed humbled by this. His career was a journey involving not only him and his bandmates but also millions of fans. It was a group endeavor with a love for music at its core. Lastly I appreciated that Lake didn’t disparage progressive rock. I think he would readily admit that he and his fellow proggers went over the top on occasion but he wasn’t derisive of the genre, he never wrote it off as youthful folly. It was fun, meaningful, and is/was the soundtrack to many people’s lives.

This is Greg Lake’s show in Milwaukee on his Songs of a Lifetime tour. The date was 9 May 2012 and was at the Northern Lights Theatre. It’s a nice audience recording.

21st Century Schizoid Man
Lend Your Love To Me Tonight
From the Beginning Introduction
From the Beginning
Heartbreak Hotel Intro
Heartbreak Hotel
The Court of the Crimson King
The story of The Court of the Crimon King Album
I Talk to the Wind
Beatles story
You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
Touch And Go
Still… You Turn Me On
A chat with the audience about memories
I Believe in Father Christmas
Shakin’ All Over
Introduction to C’est la vie
C’est la vie
Introduction to Lucky Man
Lucky Man
People Get Ready
Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2

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Greg Lake

Someone shot some video at this show so here’s “I Believe in Father Christmas”.

Show #288: Mama in Milwaukee

February 6th, 2017

\pics2\gen mil83 Show #288: Mama in Milwaukee
(Photo by Carlos Policella.)

Tradition dictates that I start the new year off with a Genesis show and 2017 will be no different.

I must have watched The Mama Tour video dozens of times back in the 1980s and it became the standard document of that tour in my head. Well, it was on the only one at the time, after all. The song sequencing, the stories in between the songs, even certain drum fills. That WAS the Mama Tour.

And so it was a real pleasure to hear an unexpurgated show from that tour for the first time. To hear songs left out of the video, songs in an alternate order, different banter between songs, and distinct drum fills. Even now when I listen to one of these shows The Mama Tour video is lurking behind the scenes. I’ll expect to hear “Illegal Alien” and instead it’s the opening of “Eleventh Earl of Mar”.

Genesis did not vary their setlists much during tours. It wasn’t like going to see the Grateful Dead when any permutation of dozens of songs was possible. A song may last a few shows at the beginning of a tour and then be replaced or the encore alternated between two or three tunes but that was really about it. (The very early days of the band excepted.) Part of it was likely due to the band’s live presentation – the lights and slides. They were all cued to the music and so the band couldn’t decide to pull an old song out from the moth balls and expect the visuals to match. Plus, after having listened to many an interview, I get the impression that Genesis just seemed to like knowing what was to be done, rehearsing it, and trying to get each night’s performance as close to perfect as possible.

While the Mama Tour didn’t veer into jam band unpredictability, the setlist at the beginning and that at the end were quite different by Genesis standards. “Carpet Crawlers” was around most of the time but not all as were “Man on the Corner” and “Who Dunnit?”. “Misunderstanding” would come and go while the first oldies medley of the night morphed throughout the tour. “Eleventh Earl of Mar”, sometimes with the first verse, would start things off and then, depending when were in the tour, you’d get some combination including “Squonk”, “Ripples”, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, “Firth of Fifth”, “Behind the Lines”, and the closing section of “The Musical Box”.

For my taste this tour closed a chapter on the band. It’s hard to describe and is obviously colored by hindsight. This is Genesis ascending. Popular, to be sure, but not the megastars they would be on their next tour. There’s an energy here, a drive to take it to the next level that would wane. Perhaps the Invisible Tour was just as kinetic but the Invisible Touch songs are simply less appealing. The band definitely did a better job of integrating old material into their live repertoire on The Mama Tour. After it songs from the 1970s seemed woefully out of place and even perfunctory at times. The of a “throw away” song like “Who Dunnit?” shows that there was more to crafting a setlist than trying to squeeze some older songs in between all the hits and as much of the new album as time would allow. The Mama Tour just seemed less formulaic.

This particular show is from 10 November 1983 and is only the fourth of the tour. It was in Milwaukee and features probably the longest ovation for Daryl Stuermer ever. “Carpet Crawlers” is here and is played second with “Abacab” coming towards the end of the concert. It’s a good audience recording.

Dodo – Lurker
Carpet Crawlers
That’s All
Illegal Alien
Eleventh Earl Of Mar / Squonk / Firth Of Fifth
Man On The Corner
Who Dunnit
Home By The Sea Intro
Home By The Sea
Keep It Dark
It’s Gonna Get Better
Follow You Follow Me
In The Cage
Cinema Show
In That Quiet Earth
Drum Duet
Los Endos
Turn It On Again

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Here’s the first oldies medley from the 20 February 1984 show in Oakland. By this time it had become “Eleventh Earl Of Mar / The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway / Firth Of Fifth / The Musical Box”.

Show #287: ELP in Madison (R.I.P. Keith Emerson)

March 12th, 2016

elp93 Show #287: ELP in Madison (R.I.P. Keith Emerson)

I was saddened to hear of Keith Emerson’s death this afternoon. It’s odd for me to read about ELP in articles that don’t lambaste the band as being a trio of pompous wankers for a change. Most of the mainstream press the band has gotten since the mid-80s when I became a fan was not particularly flattering. I wonder if Brain Salad Surgery will enter the charts again. Looking at photos on the Internet I am reminded that I cut my hair back in 1987 to look like Emerson’s coif in the photo on Trilogy.

The band last played together in 2010 and Emerson had been recording albums and touring with his Keith Emerson Band. Sadly, I never I saw ELP nor Emerson solo. This is ELP live here in Madison on 23 February 1993 at the Oscar Meyer Theatre and I really don’t know why I wasn’t at this show. They were in town supporting their reunion album Black Moon which had been released the previous summer. It’s a really nice audience recording.

Knife Edge.
Paper Blood
Black Moon
Close To Home
Creole Dance
Still…You Turn Me On
C’est La Vie
Lucky Man
Honky Tonk Train Blues
Touch And Go
Pictures At An Exhibition
Fanfare For The Common Man

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Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Here’s an entire show from the Black Moon tour in 1992 in Budapest. I believe the date in 29 September and it looks like the concert was taped for Hungarian television.

R.I.P. Kieth Emerson

kemerson rip Show #287: ELP in Madison (R.I.P. Keith Emerson)

Show #286: The Eagles at Alpine 1980

February 19th, 2016

eagles80 Show #286: The Eagles at Alpine 1980
(Photo found here.)

At the risk of this blog/podcast becoming a posthumous hit parade, I am going to post another show in memory of a rock star who has died recently. Last month on the 18th Glenn Frey passed away. He was 67.

Although best-known for his work with The Eagles, death notices reminded me that his solo work was hard to avoid in the mid-80s with songs like “The Heat Is On” and “Smuggler’s Blues” being ubiquitous.

While the only Eagles song that I care to listen to these days is “Journey of the Sorcerer”, there’s no doubt that Frey and the rest of the band deserve credit for being progenitors of country rock. Not only as The Eagles but also as Linda Ronstadt’s backing band. Plus, like The Eagles and their easy going California sound or not, Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) has sold something on the order of 30 million copies which is no mean feat.

The Eagles played here in Madison on 19 November 1976 but I’ve never seen a copy of that show. But their performance at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin in 1980 is available and so I am posting that tonight. It was 28 June and was their last Wisconsin show before the band went on hiatus/broke up.

I didn’t realize that they played so many Joe Walsh solo tunes – four of them. I was also surprised to see Frankie Ford’s “Sea Cruise” in the setlist.

It’s a very good audience recording.

Part I
Hotel California
Already Gone
In The City
King Of Hollywood
The Sad Cafe
Lyin’ Eyes
I Can’t Tell You Why
Wasted Time/Desperado
Those Shoes
Heartache Tonight
Turn To Stone

Part II
The Long Run
Life’s Been Good
Life In The Fast Lane
Rocky Mountain Way
Sea Cruise
Take It Easy
All Night Long

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The Eagles

Considering how popular The Long Run was, it is awfully hard to find any live Eagles from 1980. However, live footage from 1977 is quite common. So here’s “Lyin’ Eyes” from 1977, a song the Frey co-wrote and sang lead on.

Show #285: David Bowie in Madison

January 24th, 2016

bowie74 Show #285: David Bowie in Madison
(Photo found at this gallery.)

When David Bowie died a couple of weeks ago I was surprised by the outpouring of sadness. I suppose I shouldn’t have been but the number of article and comments about the man and his influence was really startling. People wrote about how much his music influenced them and their own musical ambitions; about how Bowie’s mercurial sexuality made others feel more comfortable with themselves as gay or bi or transgendered or whatever; while others simply wrote about how much they loved his music and his parade of personas. It seemed that despite not having had a hid or much media exposure for some time, the guy’s music and influence pervaded the lives of people of all ages.

Truth be known, I am not nor have I ever been much of a Bowie fan. I’ve never held any enmity towards the man or his legacy, I’ve just never been enamored of his music. However, I do think “Heroes” is a great song and I like some Tin Machine. And I liked him in Labyrinth and the Twin Peaks. The guy was certainly not untalented. Perhaps it was all those singles from Let’s Dance that put some kind of block in my head.

Regardless, the guy was a legend and hugely influential. And so I am posting his show from here in Madison on 11 October 1974. From what I can tell, this was his one and only performance here.

It took place on 11 October 1974 at the Dane County Coliseum. While not a great recording, it is passable. I believe that this recording has had some hiss reduction applied to it that the version up on YouTube does not.

Memory Of A Free Festival
Rebel Rebel
John I’m Only Dancing (Again)
Moonage Daydream
Rock’n'Roll With Me
The Jean Genie
Diamond Dogs
Young Americans
Can You Hear Me?
It’s Gonna Be Me
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Suffragette City
Rock’n'Roll Suicide

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David Bowie

YouTube has some live Bowie from September 1974 apparently recorded at the Universal Amphitheatre in L.A. The poster notes that it is the live footage from a documentary called Cracked Actor.

Show #284: R.I.P. Lemmy

January 21st, 2016

lemmy78 Show #284: R.I.P. Lemmy
(Photo by ~It’s_me!.)

A little over three weeks ago Lemmy passed away. He was 70.

I first encountered him, like lots of folks, via Motörhead, the band he lead starting in mid-1975 until his death. It took a while but I eventually learned that he had been a member of Hawkwind in the first half of the 70s. I went out and bought Hall of the Mountain Grill and loved it.

Lemmy was renowned for leading a rock’n'roll lifestyle of booze and drugs along with the ubiquitous cigarette. Motörhead hadn’t had much popular success, at least not here in the States, in a while yet he kept plugging away playing the music he wanted as trends came and went. The band were arguably proto-thrash with Metallica covering several of their songs.

For me Lemmy was just one of those great characters of rock music and I’m sorry that he’s gone.

This is Motörhead live on 3 June 1977 at the Birmingham Town Hall in – you guessed it – Birmingham, UK. This was billed as a soundboard but sounds like an audience recording. Regardless, it is really nice.

Keep Us On The Road
The Watcher
Iron Horse
Leaving Here
On Parole
I’m Your Witch Doctor
Train Kept A-Rollin’
City Kids
White Line Fever

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My introduction to Motörhead was on The Young Ones University Challenge episode. Here’s the band’s performance.

Show #283: Noura Mint Seymali

January 16th, 2016

nms Show #283: Noura Mint Seymali
(Photo by Roland Owsnitzki.)

Last autumn I received an email out of the blue from an old friend. I’ve written about him previously as he and I aided and abetted his decent into Genesis madness back in the mid-80s. This led to the pair of us starting to collect bootlegs, the fruits of this hobby being realized decades later at this very blog. While our initial emails includes tales of just where we are in our lives these days, music has been the subject of the bulk of our correspondence.

In one email he noted that he was heavily into world music and singled out Noura Mint Seymali as his current favorite world artist. “She has a funky band put together by an American drummer,” my friend noted. I found some videos of her on YouTube and was immediately impressed by the funky back beats and Seymali’s voice.

She hails from Mauritania and, quite frankly, I am uniquely unqualified to discuss Mauritanian music. What I can say with some degree of certainty is that her band here consists of her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly on guitar, bassist Ousmane Touré, and that American drummer, Matthew Tinari. Because of the instrumentation, the music is easy on Western ears. Chighaly processes his guitar sound most of the time – sounds like a phase pedal or something similar to my ears – which gives it a sound that is a bit psychedelic and a bit exotic or non-Western.

I’m sure there is someone out there who can discourse on Seymali’s music and singing styles, on how they combine various North African traditions and so on. That person is most definitely not me. Just listen because this is a fantastic show.

This concert was recorded at Kantine Berghain in Berlin on 19 August 2015 and broadcast on the radio so the fidelity here is quite good.

Ya Demb
El Madi
El Mougelmen
El Barmmin

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Noura Mint Seymali

This is the video that got me hooked. It’s “Tzenni”, the title track of her most recent album, and was recorded at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY on 29 April 2015.

Show #282: Torres

January 16th, 2016

torres Show #282: Torres

Tonight is night two of the 2016 edition of FRZN Fest here in Madison at the High Noon Saloon. However, I am posting a show by someone who played last night – Torres.

Torres is the pseudonym for Mackenzie Scott, a young woman who lives in Nashville, from what I can tell. I am completely unfamiliar with her music beyond this show which, from what I’ve heard so far, ranges from ambient synth to heavy droning guitar that reminds me of Mogwai to alternapop. I must also admit that she has a powerful and emotive voice.

This is Torres’ set from last fall when she was opening for Garbage. It took place on 17 October at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago.

Mother Earth, Father God
New Skin
Cowboy Guilt
Strange Hellos

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This is Torres doing “Sprinter”, the title track of her most recent album, from this very night in Chicago.

Show #281: All Them Witches

January 15th, 2016

atw2015 Show #281: All Them Witches
(Photo found here.)

As I type the 2016 FRZN Fest is underway at the High Noon Saloon. The winter festival is now in its fifth year of trying to lure folks out of their homes to brave the cold.

I’ve never been and most of the bands are completely foreign to me. I played music trivia at the High Noon earlier this week (and we took first place, I don’t mind telling you) where FRZN Fest artists were played as we endeavored to come up with the correct answers. And so I’ve sought out the bands in this year’s line-up and come up with a couple shows.

I found a show by All Them Witches who hail from Nashville. The band is:

Robby Staebler – drums
Michael Park, Jr. – bass, vocals, guitar
Ben McLeod – guitar
Allan Van Cleave – keyboards

While I have not yet listened to this entire show, I have heard a couple songs and the band has a heavy psych-rock sound – very 60s sounding. So far, so good.

This is their show from last month on the 3rd. It was at the Boot & Saddle in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is a very good audience recording. Sadly, there are people chatting near the recorder but it’s not too distracting.

The Marriage of Coyote Woman
The Death of Coyote Woman
Call Me Star
Open Passageways
Dirt Preachers
Blood and Sand/Milk and Endless Waters
Charles William
Swallowed by the Sea
Funeral For a Great Drunken Bird
When God Comes Back

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All Them Witches

Here are the band on 21 October of last year out in Pomona, California performing “Blood and Sand / Milk and Endless Waters”.

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