Tuesday, August 19, 2008

1. Free Rock and Roll

Can't think of a better way to kick this off than with the first Love 666 album. Which is now 14 years old, or exactly one-third the age of most of my bodily organs.

See, I had always wanted to be in a band, and in fact, was in one what I'll euphemistically refer to as my college years. We were called Slag Battery, which was one step and only one step up from what we were going to be called, which was Fudgehammer Buzz and fuck it, I wanted to be called Appalachian Equipment. It was them gruge years, you know?

The problem was, all I could do was sing. And to be frank, singing was not the first thing you thought of when you listened to the kindamuzkiliked. Now, I had fucked around on keyboards... but how the fuck do you make feedback on a keyboard? Couldn't be done.

Well, a downy lad I was, and twee. My boy Joe probably turned me on to this. What we have here is NoVa White Panthers, who were on an opiate-fueled mission to bring Ayler and Coleman into rock and roll. Did any of them play horns? No. Guitar, keyboard (!!!) and drums. Go figure it would be people from Falls Church.

Did they succeed? Well, they DID get to put out two albums on Amphetamine Reptile (entitled "American Revolution" and "Please Kill Yourself So I Can Rock") so you be the judge. My favorite of their releases, however, will always be this album, which is their least diluted version, their demo. Imagine: they had to tone it down for Hazelmeyer. Whadda pansy. Imagine: they thought someone would release this object. What men there were in those days, right?

As to lyrics, well, they can best be described as pointillist, usually just words strung together, muttered in a strangely fey voice: "blue/sunlight/flashing rain/5935-03/kansas city" are the lines opening the album. Although my favorite song by them, "Free Rock and Roll," actually makes sense:

When you get to my side/ then you get through a bad ride/ Over here can you hear it now?
Freedom is won not given/ I'm just tryin' to tell you something/ Maybe you can understand.
The place where you're living/ everything is just a drag:
But I have a good feeling today/ I had a new feeling today.

I got to meet the band eventually, when they were on the downside of their run, self-releasing a half-hour cauldron of whee called "Nashville Sounds." I booked them at Tokyo Rose (RIP); it was, in fact, my last booking. I had promised them two hundred bucks. In the two days before, I lied to everyone I met. "They're jazz," I said with a straight face.

So they get up there after drinking vodka-diet cokes by the gallon (vodka-diet cokes? yes) and proceed to, all two of them (drummer was absent), play two different songs at the same time. Now I know that's a cliché but hey, I was there and anyway, they stayed at my place and, in fact, the entire point was that they didn't listen to each other at all on purpose, and that they were playing two different songs. So step.

And it was great! Dave (keyboards) treated his instrument like a god-damn mortar and pestle, grinding the husks of phrases into atoms, playing the thing with his entire body. It was a meltdown, to be sure, and they did it every night, this particular one to a crowd that was, toput it mildly, unprepared for what was going to happen in front of them. One of the guys I lied to walked up to me and gave me the 'I'm not mad, I'm disappointed' face. Hey man. By any means necessary. The band got their guarantee, I got a t-shirt and a fifth of Jack from the bar, and the audience got owned. So that's why you should go to every show at your local rock hole.

Dave has gone on to start a band called Rock, which has some free music up on their site that I haven't gotten to, and he still does shit with Joe Johnson, who was the guitar player for Love 666. Also, if you check out he link, you'll find out that he dropped out the Peabody Institute, where he was studying LaMonte Young. Of course he was.

No comments: