from the Village of Pliatan, Bali, Indonesia
Mandera Dancers Of Bali
Under Direction of Anak Agung Gde
Produced by John Coast
Columbia Masterworks – ML 4618
It’s easy to see why jazz musicians found inspirations and influences in Asian dance music like this. The nature of dance made this music fiery, frantic, and avant garde. And it wasn’t improvisation, it sure sounded like that.
Likely while the dancers responded to the music, the music responded to the dancers.
This makes one wonder about the profound effect dancers had on music, not just in Asian, but in America as well.
— winch (author of )
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Bluff City Ruckus
Roman/Columbia (CK 87033)
Produced by Greg Cartwright and the Porch Ghouls
Executive producer: Joe Perry
Debut (and apparently only) long player from this Florida/Memphis outfit, garage blues and back-porch electric Memphis stomp, letting the Tennessee hillbilly come through without sounding like rockabilly. Unlike their previous EP of mostly covers, all these songs are credited to band members.
It’s not a great album, just a good one, noteworthy 21st Century garage, produced by Greg Cartwright (Oblivions, Reigning Sound), released on Joe Perry’s Roman label . (The Aerosmith / Reigning Sound connection!)
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Produced by Fred Weinberg and Dreams
While most of the early fusion had a huge focus on Hendrix-influenced electric guitars, and this does feature some noteworthy contributions from John Abercrombie, this is clearly an extension of Miles Davis, especially Miles’ then-recent live explorations of chasing down the truth and the voodoo, as this set focuses on driving rhythms, horns and spontaneity, the forward movement often working up to a semi-controlled frenzy perhaps best showcased as the 14+ minute “Dream Suite” progresses into a funky drive.
While Miles is an obvious influence, the influences of other innovative jazz pioneers of the 60s clearly show, including the ones who–like this outfit–offered vocals. And as one would expect from a fusion outfit, the influences appear to go beyond the world of jazz. For example, the influence of Sly Stone might have gone unnoticed, but considering the first cut (“Devil Lady”) and the fact that this outfit was formed in the late 60s and released this album in 1970, it’s easy to make that Sly Stone connection. It’s not that most of this sounds like Sly, but the influence is clearly there.
It’s also easy to hear how this outfit likely both influenced and was influenced by many artists of this era, by the horn-heavy rock groups of the late 60s as well as Frank Zappa and Tower of Power. And while this group doesn’t match the innovations and accomplishments of Miles Davis and Weather Report, the music on this album does appears to bridge Miles to the innovative fusion work of Weather Report.
The music is grounded in the compositions provided by keyboardist Jeff Kent and bassist Doug Lubahn, with Lubahn’s bass and Cobham’s drumming helping to both ground it and move it along, but this is a whole-group effort and more about exploration and spontaneous combustion than control, to provide as the liner notes point out, “a sort of organized jam.” The live-in-the-studio recording strategy certainly didn’t come out of nowhere, but this outfit helped establish this as an option and an example for musicians in the decades that followed. The musical explorations certainly serve as a bridge between some of the more innovative music of 1960s and for better or worse, the times to come.
— winch (author of
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While Quicksilver Messenger Service (aka Quicksilver) began as one of the more interesting and enjoyable bands of the 60s Frisco scene…soon the cracks were showing, and as the 60s turned to the 70s, guitarist John Cipollina had the sense to jump ship and form Copperhead. The band played together for years but only released this one album.
While Quicksilver seemed stuck in the 60s, Copperhead was aware of the past but clearly coming from the 70s. Instead of inventing new licks, they applied old hooks to new themes, the opener using Rolling Stone licks to offer a song about roller derby, perhaps showing that it was a fine line between a rock-and-roller and a roller derby star. The song sounds fairly serious and perhaps suggests that campy sports such as roller derby or wrestling could be taken more seriously (something that was explored decades later, but rarely in the 70s) and that perhaps rock and roll shouldn’t be taken so seriously. Next up , the band uses those licks that worked so well on QMS’s best album (Happy Trails from 1968)–the Bo Diddley beat to be exact. After slowing it down for a hillbilly influenced ballad, they close the side with a song about Japanese Kamikaze pilots, the song concluding with dive-bomb explosions–the serious and silliness of these sound effects fitting this album well.
The flip side continues in a similar mode–70s hard rock with clear elements of the past–and while fans of the more loose-jam feel of early Quicksilver might actually enjoy side two as much or even more than the first side, others will likely find the formula getting a bit tired. The excesses definitely become pronounced, and while the extended few-minute jam that concludes the last cut recalls old Quicksilver and arguably works, even if you enjoy that bit of excess, the second side lacks the focus that made the first side enjoyable.
While this band didn’t leave us with a whole lot and the lack of success of this set probably had a lot to do with Columbia refusing to release their second album (which was reportedly recorded) and the band calling it quits, this album is worth a listen for hardcore fans Cipollina’s guitar playing or 70s hard rock.
— winch (author of
Columbia (KC 32731)
Rating: **** (Recommended)
Recorded 1973, released January 1974 (US & UK) reached #13 in US
I can’t stand fusion from the early 70s, or jazz-funk led by a keyboard player, but this set from Hancock is the shit.
He has lots of flights of fancy, but the flights are like birds of prey soaring over a train traveling through a deep groove in the earth. Essential listening for fans of funk.
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)