Monday, September 24, 2012

A Ripple Roadtrip - The Way Back - Featuring Joey Ramone, the Bombay Royale, Corsair, White Light Cemetery, Jazzanova, and The Orb featurng Lee Scratch Perry

Not quite 30 hours after arrival - time spent taking Ripple inventory, eating burritos, doughnuts, and watching way too much bad sci-fi with my recuperating Ripple partner, the Pope -- and I found my self back on the road.  Early Sunday morning, up before the sun, desperately aiming to get through the quagmire of LA before . . .whatever.  LA just sucks.  Let me get through there as fast as possible. 

Which I did.  Man, I set a land speed record.  San Diego to downtown LA in 1 hour 15 minutes.  To the downside of the Grapevine in 2 1/2 hours and all the way home to SF Area in 6 1/2 hours.  Flying!

Not a lot of time for music, but the player was always going.  Here's what played.

Joey Ramone  - Ya Know?

Ok. We all know Joey Ramone.  A posthumous collection of songs can often be a dicey affair.  Were these quality songs left behind by a legend or crap demos rushed out by greedy record execs to capitalize on his still surging fame?   Fortunately, and undeniably, the former.  When Joey Ramone died from lymphoma in April of 2001 he left behind a cache of songs in various states of completion and fidelity. Some of them appeared on Don’t Worry About Me, released in early 2002.  Now a decade later comes another batch of Joey classics.   One cool thing is that the music itself was re-recorded by a handful of Ramone’s friends and collaborators over the years, including Joan Jett, the E Street Band’s Stevie Van Zandt and Plasmatics guitarist Richie Stotts.  Sure, they're a bit more produced than we'd expect from a Ramones release, but the quality of the songs deserves it and never do they suffocate under the production.

Instead, what we got are some slightly poppier than expected, but still full-on Ramones-esque cuts like, "Rock 'n Roll is the Answer, and "Going Nowhere Fast."  Joey's voice is perfect throughout.  That same voice we've known all these years, sounding strangely liberated, having fun, and more soulful at times than I'd expect.  All in all, songs that do the legacy of Joey proud and make us realize just how much we miss him.

The Bombay Royale - You Me Bullets Love 

As the Pacific Ocean began to fade away to my left side, and the sprawl of Orange County took over, Joey Ramone popped out of the player and this . . . this . . .  well, this way cool disc popped in.  The band name and album title kinda say it all.  Imagine if Peter Gunn took a rocketship to Bombay in the mid-60's.  James Bond in New Dehli.  Freaky cool spy-theme instrumentals mixed with Bollywood psychedelic cinemascopic dreams.   Trumpets, trombone, keys, sitars . . .it's all here.  Some violin, some almost flamenco sounding horn.  Even a beach guitar vibe.  It's just crazy cool.  A lost 60's spy-flick soundtrack in search of the perfect love-in groove-fest movie.  Put this on as the party starts and watch the eyebrows raise, the hips shake, and the lava lamps flow.  Groovy.

Corsair - S/T

Another band I know well making the perfect accompanyment to my drive as I blow through LA.  And in case you can't tell by now -- I just can't blow through LA fast enough.  It was a while back that Marie Landragin dropped their debut EP into my lap, and now they're following it up with a ful-length.  Yep, everything I loved about the debut is still their.  That fantastic dual lead harmony guitar work, the raw and roughened production, the faint NWOBHM DIY feeling, all the way down to the self-printed CD cover.  Perhaps this one leans even more into the Thin Lizzy camp, with a track like "Chaemera," sounding like it could've been a lost outtake or demo, with the harmony guitar leads and the very Phil Lynott-voiced phrasing.  In truth, I'd love to see them bust a bit more away from the Lizzy blueprint and explore some of their own territory, but if you're looking for an old school, guitar rock album, look no further.

White Light Cemetery - S/T EP

Ok.  LA is behind me.  Hell yes!  Open road ahead.  Time to rock.  In pops the new White Light Cemetery Ep and I'm groovin' just fine  Hands pounding the steering wheel in manical fits, head bopping dangerously away from watching the road, foot stomping on the gaspedal like a damn bass drum.  That's what WLC does to me.  A bit post-grunge, NOLA rough 'n ready rock.  Yeah, there's lots of COC in there and the songs aren't complicated, but who the hell says rock has to be?   This is balls out sludge-fest of gutty vocals  and pounding shit.  I know these guys.  I love these guys.  I put them on the Ripple Effect Presents: Volumen One, didn't I?  Now go listen to them.

Jazzanova - Funkhaus Studio Sessions

Getting closer to home.  Ears starting to bleed.  Need to calm things down a bit.   Jazzanova have been around for years and years.  I've got lots of their chill-out jazz/soul triphop stuff lying around and I've always dug them.  This album is no exception.  A bit more R&B at first than I expected, but good R&B.  Not overly produced. Soulful with dynamite vocals.  Playful and fun.  It's allowing my ears to rest as the album plays out through moods of gentle dance, downtempo, funk, jazz and always soul.  Always soul.  Definitely worth checking if you dig R&B and can't believe what the producers have wrecked upon that once proud genre.

The Orb - Featuring Lee Scratch Perry - The Observer in the Star House

Ok.  Home stretch.  Pulling off the 5 onto the 580 and close enough to home that I can smell my dogs waiting for me.  In pops the "scariest " CD of the batch.  What do I mean by that ? Well.  I know Lee Scratch Perry.  He's a well-deserved legend of dub and reggae.  And I know the Orb, and I've been less than impressed with their overly-synthed dance/trance stuff over the years.  So what happens when you combine a legendary producer/toaster with an electronic dance outfit that hits me like fingernails on a chalkboard?   Surprisingly, a damn fine dub record.   Fortunately, the album is all about Lee Perry.  His unique scratch of a voice, his tone, his phrasing.  In fact, it's not that different from the last Lee Perry album I reviewed.  But the Orb do make their presence felt, in very understated, wel-done effects, tones, and beats.   Swallowing the 20 billion beats per minute flavor of modern dance/trance, The Orb blend beautifully with the vibe of Perry's dub.  It all just flows and ebbs and does so seamlessly.  Diehard fans of the Orb's ambient house may hate this album.  But fans of experimental dub have nothing to fear.  A perfect ride to end my drive. 

That's all. . . until the next roadtrip.


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