Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 21. 5th September 1973
The Grand Wazoo:
The Grand Wazoo has all the best elements of Frank Zappa's last six or seven albums blended with the new Mothers music in the totally innovative and unique manner that has made Zappa so famous, The first track "For Calvin (and his next two hitch-hikers)" with its mock-horritic lyric and toneless voicing recalls the best (or worst) of Zappa's masterpiece Uncle Meat.
Besides composing and arranging all his music Zappa is an excellent guitarist and the frisky wah-wah effect which made the 1969 "Hot Rats" album so unforgetable sets the second track "The Grand Wazoo" of on its sometimes chaotic course.
The new Mothers comprise 22 members and are particularly strong in their brass and wood wind sections: and it is interesting to note that some of these musicians are retired jazz-men Zappa had 'found' languishing as obscure session 'cats'. He has certainy wrested the best from these old professionals as Bill Byers brilliant trombone solo on thi song "Grand Wazoo" will testify, with its fusion of serious jazz and Zappa-esque insanity.
In arranging many of his compositions Zappa begins with a simple catchy melody line gradually building by adding and mixing additional instruments to climax in a blaze of Fairground-like activity On side two "Eat this question" follows this design with a grand finale reminiscent of the best of one of his later works "Burnt Weenic Sandwich" in its frenetic helter-skelterish intensity.
Frank Zappa is often called a genius but in recent years, many had to begin to wonder if he had not reached his artistic peak. Happily The Grand Wazoo" destroys that notion and re-establishes Zappa as the wizard of contemporary music; rock or otherwise, and in addition it can serve as a good introduction to those who have never heared the man.
It's fascinating to consider the Mothers of Invention's 1964 "Atrocities" (toy giraffes squirting cream over the audience etc. etc.) in relation to Alice Cooper and today's fashionable quasi-surrealist troupes. Zappa did it all years ago without even trying, but today we confront a maturer artist, more concerned with serious music than creative entertainment.
The gentle business of Good hand Taits voice with its unpretentious musical accompaniment took a few weeks to bring a reaction but this album has proved to be a find. Aside from a tendency towards a repetitive sound, 'Songfall is a very mellow, balanced work from the traditional Buddy Holly standard "Everyday" with its simple piano backing to the hymn-like "Processed" with its revival sentiments.
From the singers ecstatic expression pictured inside the record-jacket and scattered clues such as the gently banal song "Child of Jesus", one might deduce that the artist is himself some kind of religious revivalist but happily this line is not over emphasised. The record is curiously pleasant and Phillip Goodhand-Tait's name may well be one to remember.
Sandy Denny justified the existence of the Fairport Convention. The present bunch of folkies are Fairport Convention by name only and there seems little point in churning out another album, 2YA will give us all the Irish jigs we need. Jimmy Shand (and his band) have said it all, but still the Fairport Band plods on. Dave Swarbricks braying makes me cringe but I realise there is a place for this music. "Rosie" itself is a nice enough ditty but it's not a reason for an album. The record jacket takes the form of a gift-box of candies with a pretty ribbon, hut as usual, he wary of shoddy merchandise in a bright wrapper.
In the days of In the Court of, nobody did schizo-rock better than King Crimson. I remember "21st Century Schzoid Man" and thinking just how deranged Pete Sinfield and Robert Fripp might be.
Then I heard Earthbound and I'm not thinking that any more. Sinfield went a long time age and Fripp's been listening to Edwin Start and recruited three blokes to produce an [unclear: lp] of horny bad-ass jazz.
"21st Century Schzoid Man" is here and amid the other half hour of foot-Stomping tedium, it's good to hear. The title track side-steps clumsily from Boz on vocals (like Little Richard on CNS depressants) to Fripp on middling guitar, The rest is a filthy mess of Edwin Starr soul and 4/4 rock with Mel Collins featured far too heavily on saophones.
Things have changed now and Fripp's back with a new band and a new album — possibly a vengance. To cover up for one very earbound mistake.
G. Wayne Thomas:
Wine Dark Sea:
I thought the Singer-Songwriter-See My Guts syndrome really did die last year with Cat Stevens and a bit too much teasing. I'd had music-box diaries and Jackson Browne and Saturate Before Using wrote all your lives off last year anyway.
Drank half a cup of sour milk yesterday and the TV got turned off at 10 the night before and two Warm and Genuine lp's arrived. And I had to sit down and listen to em and evaluate 'em and say good things about 'em. Ok I sez and I read the publicity blurb inside and I jes puked.
"The idea of having our own label gives us a freedom to record exactly what we want and how we want it... the whole thing has to have an artistic approach rather than a business dominated one..." et cetera and signed by G. Wayne Thomas.
No joke either.
Nothing new though — ten mostly original cuts on G. Wayne Thomas and ten mostly flogged on Wine Dark Sea. And who really wants to hear "Handbags and Gladrags" again? Or Carly Simon's ode to Doomsday, "Share the End", again? Who wants two more Sweet Baby James and a bunch of sheepshit about 'I bin there and I wanna tell you about the bad times"?
Have another listen to Tea for the Tillerman or Tapestry or American Pie before you buy — you really don't need Warm and Genuine.
While there's still plenty of time for you to buy sell, haggle, barter and consume and generally get that real Christmas spirit. I'm going to pick my record of the year. This is it. Take the best of the Band, the very best things about Delaney and Bonnie, and add in guitar and vocals which at times sound uncannily like free and you have Little Feat Unbelievably tight playing, ten strong, well written tunes, clean uncluttered arrangements, magical lead guitar work from Lowell George, there's just not one really weak moment on the record.
Little Feat have got one other LP out, another masterpiece Called "Sailing Shoes" which Pat O' Dea begged you to buy and you didn't but don't pass this one up. The current shotgun release policy adopted by most companies makes it impossible to keep abreast of releases and it hits hard at groups like this.
We have moved from a record business dominated by the hit single to the other extreme, where anyone can get an album out. And so the wheel has turned full circle. A group has to have a hit single, like the Doobic Brothers, or endorsement by a Beautiful Person to break clear of the pack. Little Feat lose in both directions. Not quite crass enough to make Top Forty and too hip to be seen in public with Bette Midler. The future of the best rock band in America is in your hands my friend.
Red Rose Speedway:
This record just about clinches the suspicion (first derived from religious sources) that idolatry may be addictive. It seems that McCartney years to be a teenage idol all over again. Its hard to be too critical. What do you do after you've been a Beatle ? It must be hard for an ego as big as Mc-Cartney's to surrender the spotlights to some pipsqueak like Alice Cooper; but what is irritating is to see how callously he rides on the back of Beatle style and nostalgia to stay up there. Of all the Beatles he's changed the least, and even poor Ringo hasn't cashed in so blatantly on his past as Paul does here.
Ringo's solution actually has been to dabble in voyeurism. He's just finished a movie about Marc Bofan in which hundreds of teenage girls scream, tear their hair and wet their pants just like in the fab old days of Beatlemania. Ringo claims the experience was "tremendously exciting".
But back to McCartney. Twenty four cover photos of Mr McCreassure you gals out there that he's still as boyishly handsome as ever, "My Love" is in the bloated ballad style of "Winding Road" and "Yesterday" because Paul couldn't get a hit with the other Wings stuff. "Little Lamb" shows us his endearing childish simplicity endures despite fame and fortune, and who could resist "Sing Pigeon"?
Do you need a pal for a minute or two?/ Me too, me too, me too I'm a lot like you, or dazzling word plays like "weeping on a willow/ sleeping on a pillow/ leaping armadillo. Eat your heart out, John Lennon.
All the other tracks sound like endless reruns of "Why don't we do it in the road". On "Hold me tight". "Lazy Dynamite" and "Right Thing" the title phrases are repeated 17, 12 and 36 times respectively. And so it goes as faded charms are relentlessly flaunted; Mc Cartney is the Mac West of rock, an Old whore still trying to shake that money maker.
Of course I could be wrong. Maybe all this mindless repetition is really raw nitty gritty downhome folk simplicity. You'll have to check that out with Richard Best.
The Dark Side of the Moon:
The dark Side of the Moon" explains why Pink Floyd have finally crased through to a more lucrative market, why their music deals with themes and situations that most other group don't even realise exist. From "Ummagumma" onwards the Floyd's music displayed a marked tendency towards repetition but "Dark Side ..." represents a complete rift from past musical structures and patterns.
Thematically, the album deals mainly with the depravity of the human condition, and no cut more typifies this than "Money" which looks set to become a hit single now that the NZBC has changed its mind, after first rejecting it out of hand. It balances Dick Parry's weighty sax solo against Dave Gilmour's shimmering guitar above an infectious rhythm section. The lyric according to Gilmour, comes "straight from the heart": "Money .... so they say....is the root of all evil today/But if you ask for a rise it's no surprise that they are giving none away."
Despite the overall conceptual unity, other tracks are also strong enough to stand alone, notably "Time" and "Brain Damage" from which the album title was lifted. It conjures up visions of a lunatic locked into his little padded cell, being watched through a peeohole by psychoanalysts, then drifts into the cataclysmic last verse, with appropriately maniacal chantings in the background: And it the dam breaks open many years too soon/and if there is no room upon the hill/ and if your head explodes with dark forbodings too/I'll see you on the dark side of the moon." It's all there on "Eclipse" too.
Previously, Pink Floyd had mixed up the intricate guitar-organ interactions, sequestering the sound into distinct clumps. Now the lead instrumentation has been mixed more completely into the music fabric, giving the effect of greater continuity when all is said and done this is probably, the occasional vocal lapse excepted, the group's best to date. Throughout they play adroitly, fleshing out the spaces with a broad spectrum of effects including the clanging of cash registers, voice tracks and synthesiser squawkings, but I still prefer "Atom Heart Mother". Why? The answer is supplied in the form of a paradox as the album fades: "There is no dark side of the moon. As a matter of fact, it's all dark."