Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jimi Hendrix guitar tech

                     interesting... it seems he didn't use a "Jimi Hendrix gadget" in his rig.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Music - Something is always killing it!

Music lovers of a certain age will remember this cute little graphic
from back in the 80s.

There were no computers then, and no internet, but nonetheless
the music industry was keen to hip quadrillions of young music
lovers to the fact that the mix tapes they were making for themselves
and their friends were "killing music"...

...and if we didn't stop, one day there would be no more music.

It was all bullshit, of course. People kept taping and music
kept getting made and the beat, as they say, went on.

Fast forward a couple of decades, during which the music
industry made sick profits selling people the same music
many of them already owned on vinyl in the form of fabulously
over-priced CDs and holy doodle- music was getting killed again!

Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!

Blah, blah, blah... and the beat goes on.

For a zone of human creativity and commerce that likes
to represent as "hip" and "cool" and "cutting edge", popular
music on an industrial scale is curiously resistant to any sort
of cultural and/or technological change.

Once upon a time, record players were going to kill music
by making it available to people in their homes. Next, radio
stations that were going to kill music by playing records
on the air... but somehow, the beat went on.

Along the way, there was another music killer waiting in
the wings - the use of "canned music" in theatres as opposed
to "Real Music" made by AF of M members. The text in these
ads is very familiar in both tone and topics to that which came
along with home taping and file sharing, don't you think?
Sadly though, they were right. Music died and now there isn't
any more and it's really, really sad. If only we'd listened to them...

Oh, the humanity...


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Singing Blade

It conjures a delicate, haunting sound that, once heard,
is never forgotten. It predates the theremin and the history
of recording and serious composers have written serious
music for it, but the musical saw remains something of
a musical enigma.

The saw has been a part of human life for 5,000 years -
everyone from the ancient Egyptians down has used the
saw to shape and build their worlds, but no one is quite
sure where exactly the idea came up of making music with it.

Some say the idea came from up a dark holler in the Ozarks.
Some say it was a drunken violinist in an Argentinian lumber
camp while others are quite certain it was woodcutters in France.

The musical saw became popular in the hands of circus and
variety-theatre artists from 1900 onwards. It was cheap, easy
to carry and hard to break. Street musicians, circus clowns,
singers, rock bands and country music groups had taken it to
the people long before ‘serious’ like Henri Sauguet and
Georges Crumb began to compose for it.

One of the greatest exponents of the musical saw was Marlene Dietrich.
Marlene was musically gifted- in addition to singing, she also played the
drums, piano, guitar and accordion.

She was taught to play in 1927 by her fellow actor Igo Sym, who gave
her the instrument as a farewell gift. She took it with her to Hollywood
and mesmerized directors and crew by playing on the set of at least
six films between takes.

People who play the saw are known as "sawists" or "sawcerors".

You play the saw seated or (more rarely) standing, holding the
wooden handle between your legs, and the end of the blade with
your left hand to bend the blade to an ‘S’ shape. Rubbing a given
spot of the blade (depending on its curvature) with a violin bow
alters the pitch of the note.

Like the glass harmonica and the waterphone, the saw belongs to
the family of friction idiophones. When well mastered, it can reach
great delicacy of expression. Its sound range can cover over three octaves.

While the French may or may not have invented it, they are
perhaps the world's leading manufacturers of musical saws,
notably thanks to the singing blade, a toothless version of the
saw invented by Jacques Keller in 1948.

It's popularity started a long, slow decline after 1921, when
the Hawaiian steel guitar came in but like many folk instruments
in recent years, it has seen a revival of interest.

There are clubs and festivals dedicated to it and musicians
pursuing it's ghostly tones in Germany, Finland, France,
Japan, China, Canada and the US.   

Learn all kinds of things about the musical saw
with these helpful links!

Frank Zappa excellent quotes

Frank Zappa was very clear about what he thought
about many things- from art and music to politics
and censorship in the USA.
What he said was always informed
and worthy of consideration...

“You can’t write a chord ugly enough to say
what you want sometimes, so you have
to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream.”

“My best advice to anyone who wants to raise
a happy, mentally healthy child is:

Keep him or her as far away from a church as you can.


“It isn’t necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice.
There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork,
and the other is nostalgia.”

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful,
is the basic building block of the universe.
I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen,
and that is the basic building block of the universe.”

At a Congressional hearing about parental advisory labels
on records, Frank said to Tipper Gore,

May your shit come to life and kiss you on the face.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Weasels Ripped My Flesh (2)

In 1964, Ray Collins formed a band called The Soul Giants with drummer
Jimmy Carl Black, bassist Roy Estrada, saxophonist Dave Coronado,
and guitarist Ray Hunt. Not long later, Collins got into a fight with Hunt,
who left the band and Ray asked Frank Zappa to join the band.

Zappa convinced the others that playing his original compositions
would step them up to the big time. They changed their name to
The Mothers and by 1966 were ready to release Freak Out, the
second double album in rock history. Their label insisted on a
name change, and the Mothers of Invention were unleashed
upon the world.

After touring widely and releasing 5 albums, Zappa disbanded
the group in 1969- a decision that was not well received by band
members. He signed with a new label and released a solo album
called Hot Rats. He would also release two Mothers of Invention
albums in 1969 using existing Mothers studio work as well as
live recordings.

The 1969 album was called Burnt Weenie Sandwich. The second,
released in 1970, was called Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

Weasels Ripped My Flesh

The title came from a cover headline on the September 1956
issue of Man's Life, a men's adventure magazine. Zappa had
been given the magazine by a young fan named Dan O'Brien,
who had acquired it from his brother, a musician who had
found it during his day job at a pornographic publishing house.

The absurdity of flesh-ripping weasels appealed to Frank's
sense of humor. According to legend, Zappa showed it to a
young San Francisco poster artist known as Neon Park and
said “What can you do that’s worse than this?

Park's painting, for which he was paid $250, almost didn't
see the light of day. Zappa fought with Warner Bros. over
its suitability for release. "Evidently," says Park, " wasn't
up to their standards
." Warner's eventually caved, but then
the printer pitched a fit.

"The printer was greatly offended," says Park. "The girl who
worked for him, his assistant, she wouldn't touch the painting.
She wouldn't pick it up with her hands.

Zappa and Park were enjoyed the brouhaha: "I was greatly
amused by the cover, and so was Frank,
" says Park.
"I mean, we giggled a lot."

It could have been worse. German releases of the album
featured an album cover showing a metal baby caught in
a rat trap. This cover was not approved by Zappa.

Park would go on to do work for Little Feat, David Bowie,
Dr. John and the Beach Boys as well as illustrations for Playboy,
National Lampoon, Glass Eye, and Dreamworks.

In 1992, he was diagnosed in 1992 with amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
When his doctor told him the diagnoses,
Park replied "I never even played baseball."

Is the album any good?

One review says "....Weasels can make for difficult, incoherent listening,
especially at first. But there is a certain logic behind the band's accom-
plished genre-bending and Zappa's gleefully abrupt veering between musical
extremes; without pretension, Zappa blurs the normally sharp line between
intellectual concept music and the visceral immediacy of rock and R&B.
Zappa's anything-goes approach and the distance between his extremes a
re what make Weasels Ripped My Flesh ultimately invigorating; they
also even make the closing title track -- a minute and a half of squalling
feedback, followed by applause -- perfectly logical in the album's context.

Billboard magazine said it was "far out".

You can judge for yourself...

learn much, much more at United Mutations!

the deep background on "the weasels" and other elements of pulp life at:

more mothers ads:


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1)

"I was sprawled on a mound of hay - shotgun
cradled in my arms and head drooping fiercely
from want of sleep - when that first ripple of
alarm surged through the duck house.

Instinctively my finger curled on the trigger
as I sat upright, blinking at the soft amber glow
of the kerosene lamp suspended from the rafter.
I heard nothing. Only the breeders shifting
timorously in their pens and quacking."
Does this sound familiar to you?

The answer is probably "No", and there's no reason they would unless
you are profoundly interested in pulp magazines from the 50s. They
are the opening passage to a story by Mike Kamens that appeared
in the September 1956 issue of Men's Life magazine,
entitled `Weasels Ripped My Flesh`.

The story was good enough to be the cover of that month`s issue!

The cover art was done by Wilbur `Wil`Hulsey, who did a lot work
for Man`s Life and other major pulp publications in those days.
The weasels were not his only foray into the danger animals
represented to would-be heroes:

Nor were weasels and turtles the only creatures
seeking to rip the flesh of their oppressors...

There were snakes:

Man-eating rats...

Nasty little monkeys...

Giant otters...

and giant crabs!

All of which is quite colorful and interesting in it`s own right,
but how, you may well be asking, does this connect with Frank
Zappa, the Mothers of Invention and one of the better-known
album covers in the history of rock?

The answer is here, at Weasels Ripped My Flesh (2).


Here are links to some sights where I learned a lot,
found some images and got very pleasantly distracted.

the deep background on "the weasels"
and other elements of pulp life at:

more flesh rippers and other classic pulp magazine covers here:

and here:

more pulp headlines


Tuesday, September 8, 2015