The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Monday, April 23, 2007

Writing about music... like dancing about architecture...(or thereabouts)

This entry is written live, no editing, proofreading. So, love love love, folks.

There is a nifty little set of book by Continuum Publishers called "33 1/3". "Trout mask Replica" is the newest one I've obtained. It's $10.95, and all the previous editions have been $9.95. These are books about individual albums, and these books all look roughly the same size. I first started seeing these things in 2004. Being a good "music fan", I duly started checking them out, when possible. All of the books are written by different folks. Inquiring minds want to know: the ones I have in this series are:

#6 PINK FLOYD "Piper At The Gates of Dawn" (written when Syd was still alive)
#13 JAMES BROWN "Live At The Apollo" (written when James was still alive)
#14 JETHRO TULL "Aqualung" (first copy I found was mis-bound and I hadn't noticed, so I returned it to the publisher and they sent me a brand new properly bound copy - good guys!)
#18 THE ROLLING STONES "Exile On Main Street"
#26 DAVID BOWIE "Low" (the first book in this series that I actually got)
#35 BOB DYLAN "Highway 61 Revisited"
#37 THE WHO "The Who Sell Out"
and yesterday I got

I seem to remember that the Bowie book was the one I liked best. If I had to pick a favorite album from this list, it would be "The Who Sell Out". But I do like all of these records. publishers writing guides for young readers/listeners - even when they can read hundreds of testimonials to these artists/albums on the internet...OK!

Beefheart book is fairly easy to read / comprehend. In one sitting, I read up to page 126. Lots of Zappa disrespect and history - and I neither agree nor disagree. Interesting, for a Zappa fan. I came to "Trout Mask" fairly early on (well, before "Decals" was released). I got the Wild Man Fischer album first (after hearing some short snatches of it on the Warner/Reprise "Songbook" double sampler LP), then came "Trout Mask" (which I, like many, first heard of the sampler LP "Zapped"). It took me 6 or 7 years before I found anybody to validate my interest in Beefheart, I only ever approached him via the FZ connection (hey, Don sang on "Hot Rats"!). People always seem to get uptight when I refer to an artist as someone who it is "somebody else's job to worry about" - but that's how I feel about Mr. Beefheart. I got "Trout Mask" when I was 11 or 12 years old, I memorized it (just played it again last night, while reading the book), copied it, fully ingested it...I made it to "Decals", but it never rang my chimes, particularly. Next blip on the radar was reading that Don was working with Frank again...never particularly cared much for "Bongo Fury" or "Bat Chain Puller". I only listened more closely to "Ice Cream For Crow" because a friend of mine was on it (Midnight Hatsize Snyder). I got to meet Mr. Beefheart, get my 2LP of "Trout Mask" autographed - ask him why/how ZNR "Barricades 3" had his artwork inside of the cover etc. Should've got my photo taken with him, can't think of everything.

Decades on...I like him OK. I thought the BBC documentary on him painted a rather sad picture, with Don unable to talk very well etc. Shame that the high quality video that they have of him is of not such interesting material. I'm happy he can make more money with his art than with his music. This year, I noticed an internet "April Fool's" joke, about Beefheart wanting to tour again...

So, no hate mail, please. Beefheart is somebody else's heart & soul, not mine. I like "Trout Mask" just fine, but it does not / did not light up my tree in the way that Basil Kirchin's "Worlds Within Worlds Parts 3 & 4" or Hermeto Pascoal's "Zebumba Bum A" did / does.


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

Re: Captain Beefheart

And let me tell you folks, Richard "Midnight Hatsize" Snyder is a DAMN FINE actor!

Re: books

I've seen a few of these at the library and will probably check them out. I enjoy all of the albums listed but have not heard the James Brown or Captain Beefheart recordings. I wish I had Piper, wouldn't mind having Exile, and have all the others. The Bowie is a fave album from him. But I could say the same of The Who and Dylan.

Speaking of The Who, we recently saw vol. 2 of the OGWT DVDs and Roger Daltrey was commenting on The Who's appearance on it and the 2004 footage looks very flattering. The man has either aged extremely well or had massive amounts of top flight plastic surgery. Given his rep as the healthy one in The Who [no booze or drug problems to speak of] his appearance probably speaks volumes for clean living. Of that OGWT Who appearance; when viewing it, one can REALLY SEE in BLACK & WHITE, the influence of Keith Moon on the Muppet "Animal." Mein gott!

9:43 AM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

The books in this series are all written is fairly diverse styles. Beefheart book is an easy read (for an uneasy album). Stones book was fairly difficult, LP is fairly simple etc.

6:25 PM  

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