I still have a lot of the records from my adolescence, some of my favorites
were lost when about fifty or so were stolen by a roommate about eight years
ago. One LP that I miss to this day, maybe my favorite record from that
time, is Frank Zappa's Lumpy Gravy. That record really changed my life or
at least my ideas about what music could be. I now have about 300 or 400
records (I still buy records sometimes), and went though the
shelves and pulled out five that might surprise you. (To put this in the
proper perspective, note that at the moment I'm listening to 5 pieces for
Orchestra by Anton Webern conducted by Pierre Boulez.)
Chicago - Live at Carnegie Hall Before I knew anything about electric guitar, except the Hendrix songs
that you would hear on Top 40 radio, the first guitarist to make a big
impression on me was Terry Kath of the band Chicago. And the record was Live
at Carnegie Hall recorded in 1971. Lots of long wah-wah guitar solos, with
some great drumming by Danny Seraphine. But of course it was the guitar that
got to me, fast, sometimes loose, and powerful. Needless to say, you have
to skip through the record to avoid hearing all the saccharine pop songs.
Jan Akkerman - Profile Jan Akkerman was the guitar player from the Dutch
rock band Focus and he put this record out in 1972. One side is pretty
much just cheap blues, some classical Etudes, really
cheesy. But the other side is a long, free-rock freak out. That side opens
with a very short quiet intro followed by incredibly fast and brutal riffs
over a scorching drum-and bass-groove. Really unbelievable. I have played
this for many people over the years, and not one has ever even come close to
guessing the date of the record, never mind the musician. The last person
I played it for was Will Redmond who I was working with in PAK at the
time. He is still bugging me to make him a tape.
Gentle Giant - Acquiring The Taste I really think that this band had
some great ideas and made some complex rock music. Really. Like the first
track Pantaguel's Nativity and the second track Edge of Twighlight, strange
vocal harmonies, percussion sections that sound like they were lifted from
Edgar Varese, and odd meters that groove.
Van Der Graaf Generator - Still Life Lyrics are based somewhat on
the novel by Arthur C. Clark, Childhood's End. Most of the writing is very
dark, just check out title track, Still Life. But I just love the overall
sound of the record, the way the saxophones are mixed with the bass and the
keyboards. There is also a great live Van Der Graaf record, Vital where they sound
more like a punk band, released in 1978, two years after Still Life. As a side note: John Lydon of
the Sex Pistols lists Peter Hammill (composer and leader of Van Der Graaf)
as a main influence.
Lew Davies and his Orchestra - Strange Interlude 1961 About eight or ten years ago I started to buy a lot of thrift store
records. In Oakland, CA, at that time, you could find some real gems for
under a dollar. The
title of this one says it all, with great arrangements using ondioline ("an electrically operated keyboard instrument which, unlike most
other instruments such as the piano, can play only one note at a time. It is
relatively small-only about a yard wide - and on its sides there are levers
used for switching to such things as a woodwind sound or an electronic
beep-beep that can be set at any tempo," according to the liner notes), cymbalum,
theremin, contrabass clarinet in bizarre combinations. Really great and lots
of fun. If you're ever lucky enough to see this record somewhere buy it.
Ron Anderson calls himself an "intuitive music maker."
His primary instrument is electric guitar, but he has a fascinationwith old keyboards,
recording effects and "anything that can make a sound." He has released 40 records under his name and with his groups Rat At Ratr,
The Molecules and Ronruins (with Tatsuya Yoshida), among others, and has recorded or performed with Ulan Bator,
Fred Lonberg-Holm, James Chance, Marc Ribot, Elliott Sharp, The Sun City Girls, Shelly Hirsch, Otomo Yoshihide, Gino Robair,
Yamamoto Seiichi, Jack Wright, John Zorn, Donald Miller, Hoppy Kamiyama, Daniel Carter, Haco and Terrie Ex. His current project
is the fast-cut rock band PAK.