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Alan Vega/Alex Chilton/Ben Vaughn - Cubist Blues (1996)
In 1996, the fine Thirsty Ear label -- never motivated by commerce,
always driven by the need to issue the what was new, odd, and fresh,
even if it is that rare freakish and fractured thing -- released Cubist Blues.
It was the unholy union of future roots music wailer Alan Vega with a
pair of terminal rock & roll outsiders in Ben Vaughn and Alex
Chilton. Since almost everybody else in the indie and pop worlds were
still wandering around in shock after the death of Kurt Cobain,
almost no one took notice of this terrifyingly great record made in two
consecutive dusk to dawn improvisational sessions at Dessau Studios on
the Lower East Side of New York in December of 1994! Like the best of
jazz when the cats in the '50s would just show up to see what would
happen (more often than not, it did: check the Norman GranzJam Session albums and the Prestige All-Stars).
So what does Cubist Blues sound like? Crazy voodoo ghost music. It sounds like Eddie Cochrane, Gene Vincent, and Johnny Burnette fighting for a place at Elvis'
table someplace between heaven and hell that isn't earth. Vega's a poet
of the other side of rock & roll. In the grain of his voice is the
cry, weep, and wail of the blues as it met speed, cars, rocket ships,
and the inside of Papa Legba's drum. Forgot for one moment he was in Suicide,
if you can, and listen to these freaky, screwed down guitars,
ramshackle pianos bearing their low keys like a dog's teeth, basses
that rumble instead of pop. It's messed up -- check tracks like "Fly
Away," where Jim Morrison meets Jeffrey Lee Pierce
in the rebel squall of the south wind; the steam shovel rockabilly of
"Fat City" that is as streetwise as any hip-hop crew's boast shop, or
creates a roaring sound Dion
would have love to have heard in his head in the Bronx in the '50s.
is poetry, man. There's the noir-ish blues of "Sister" that stumbles,
falls, and breaks its leg before it ever starts, and the post-nightmare
retake on "Dream Baby," where nothing is as it seems in the mirror.
Brilliant, disturbing, obsessive, and addictive; Cubist Blues is an album that time forgot, but was never more in time. (AMG)
You'll understand that there's no use commenting every post but this blog is sucha nice place to visit. It's like my old tapes & vinyl coming back to life. Thank you so much for resurrecting my days gone by... I'm about to enjoy this music so much.