Monthly Archives: November 2010

Watch/Download Primal Scream Live London



UPDATE 11/28: Mark from A North Country Bhoy emailed to let us know that he’s now got a second download posted (at the same link, below) of the show, this time broken into individual tracks for easy access, and minus the DJ chatter. (In the interest of making the show available as soon as possible he’d originally uploaded the show literally 20 minutes after its conclusion so obviously there wasn’t a lot of time to edit it first time around.) Dig it – the concert is absolutely mesmerizing from start to finish.


MP3 download taken from live radio
broadcast of November 26 London
concert. Meanwhile, view video clips below.


By Fred Mills


A huge “thanks” is in order to the good folks at Creation
for tipping us to this one: following this week’s news about Creation
prepping a March release for a 4CD/DVD “Collector’s Edition” of Primal Scream’s
epochal ’91 album Screamadelica, the
label sent word out this morning that venerable UK blog ANorthCountryBhoy had
uploaded last night’s Primal Scream concert at the London Olympia in which the
band performed the album in its entirety.


It was a live-to-air BBC broadcast and includes some of host
Steve Lamacq’s comments along with some additional pre-gig content (including
the band playing “Jailbird” earlier in the evening as part of a greatest-hits
first set), the only drawback being that ANorthCountryBhoy uploaded the entire
thing as a single 93-minute MP3 rather than breaking it into individual tracks.
Even if you have a relatively fast Internet connection it will probably take
you at least 20 minutes to download the material. But it’s well-worth the wait
and offered in pristine FM audio quality.


The blog itself ain’t too shabby either. Go here to access
the blog
and download link.



The concert, incidentally, was the first of two nights in London featuring the band
doing the complete album. Originally they’d scheduled just tonight, November
27, but an instant sell-out lead to them adding an additional night, the 26th.
In January Primal Scream heads off to Australia
and New Zealand for a series
of “Big Day Out” dates and then picks up again in the UK in March.
Full list of dates here.


Meanwhile, clips of portions of the show have already begun surfacing at YouTube, with varying degrees of video and audio quality of course. Watch some of them, below.


[Photos courtesy Primal Scream’s MySpace gallery]



Willie Nelson Busted for Pot in Texas


“He can wear the
stripy uniforms just like the other ones do.”


By Fred Mills


It’s not exactly an obscure concept: the smell of reefer in
the proximity of Willie Nelson’s tour bus, as any journalist or fan who’s ever
been invited on it for an audience with the country legend (and staunch pro-pot
advocate). What is a bit beyond the pale, however, is how in this day an age a
random cop would take it upon himself to take action after getting a surprise
whiff of the herbal sacrament.


According to multiple news sources, yesterday morning around
9 a.m. the tour bus stopped a a routine border patrol checkpoint at Sierra
Blanca in Texas (east of El Paso by roughly 85 miles), and after the
aforementioned odor was detected, a search was conducted and approximately six
ounces of marijuana was confiscated.


ABC news reoports: “Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West told
the El Paso Times that Nelson, 77,
claimed that the marijuana was his. According to police patrolman Bill Brooks,
a sheriff from Hudspeth
County was contacted and
Nelson was among three people arrested at the scene. Nelson was held briefly
and paid a $2,500 bond. ‘It’s kind of surprising, but I mean we treat him like
anybody else,’ West told the El Paso
. ‘He could get 180 days in county jail, which if he does, I’m going
to make him cook and clean. He can wear the stripy uniforms just like the other
ones do.'”


Nelson’s publicist, Elaine Schock, has not yet issued an
official statement for the singer yet.



4CD/DVD Primal Scream Screamadelica Due

Definitely too large a
package to carry with you down to your next rave…


By Fred Mills


As we tipped you the other day via out Twitter feed, Primal
Scream’s 1991 classic Screamadelica is about to get the expanded/remastered treatement – the remastering done at
the able hands of My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. It’s due March 7 on
Creation in the UK, although
no specific word yet is available about a US release (the album was
originally released Stateside via the Sire label, at the time part of the WEA


But on the “expanded” tip, fans can expect to be
well-served: the “Collector’s Edition” will include four CDS (the original
album, a CD of remixes, a concert from 1992, and the rare Dixie Narco EP), plus a DVD documentary on the making of the album,
and a vinyl edition. See the tracklisting, below.


Tour dates in which the band is performing the album in its
entirety can be viewed here.


CD1: Original album

1 Movin’ On Up
2 Slip Inside This House
3 Don’t Fight It, Feel It
4 Higher Than the Sun
5 Inner Flight
6 Come Together
7 Loaded
8 Damaged
9 I’m Comin’ Down
10 Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony in Two Parts)
11 Shine Like Stars

CD2: Live in L.A., 1992

CD3: Mixes

1 Loaded (Farley Mix)
2 Loaded (7″ Mix)
3 Come Together (Farley 7″ Mix)
4 Come Together (Wetherall 7″ Mix)
5 Come Together (Terry Farley Extended 12″ Mix)
6 Come Together (Hypnotone Brain Machine Mix)
7 Come Together (BBG Mix)
8 Higher Than The Orb (5:00)
9 Higher Than The Sun (12″ Mix) 
10 Higher Than The Sun (American Spring Mix)
11 Don’t Fight It (7″ Edit)
12 Don’t Fight It (Graham Massey Mix)
13 Don’t Fight It (Scat Mix)
14 Don’t Fight It (High, High, High Massey Mix)
15 I’m Losing More Than I E ver Had
16 Ramblin Rose

CD4: The Dixie Narco EP

1 Movin’ On Up
2 Stone My Soul
3 Carry Me Home
4 Screamadelica

DVD: The Making of Screamadelica


A1 Movin’ On Up
A2 Slip Inside This House
A3 Don’t Fight It, Feel It
B1 Higher Than The Sun
B2 Inner Flight
B3 Come Together
C1 Loaded
C2 Damaged
C3 I’m Comin’ Down
D1 Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony in Two Parts)
D2 Shine Like Stars



Pirate Bay Loses Appeal; Fine Increased


No word on whether
founders screamed “arrrrrrrrrrrrrgggghhh”… Pirate Bay,
meanwhile, continues apace, malware included.


By Fred Mills


After the four founders of notorious BitTorrent download site Pirate Bay
were convicted a little over a year ago of copyright violations (“assisting in making
copyright content available” was the precise wording of the guilty verdict),
their lawyers appealed the verdict. Today, however, the Swedish Appeal Court handed down its
ruling: still guilty. reports that the defendants had their
original sentences (up to one year in jail) slightly reduced, but that the
collective fine of $3.6 million had been upped to $6.5 million in the loud of
additional “evidence of losses as a result of file sharing” presented by the
music industry plaintiffs. Plaintiffs have already announced they intend to
appeal to the Supreme Court.


Meanwhile, the current iteration of Pirate Bay
continues to operate at, and it’s ridiculously easy to locate Torrents of pretty
much anything you’re looking for. Be warned, however, that the site is a magnet
for malware and drive-bys, so maybe now is a good time to start looking for
other, safer sources that can abet your digital shoplifting….


Read: Daniel Lanois’ “Soul Mining” Memoir


Published this month
by Faber & Faber,
Soul Mining: A Musical Life eschews straight chronological narrative for a more thoughtful, and
potentially more insightful, look back over the celebrated producer-musician’s
life and career.


By Michael Toland

Daniel Lanois is a producer that some folks love to hate. On
the one hand, he works hard for artists he loves, knows how to help them sell
records without making overt commercial moves, and keeps an eye on the future
while maintaining respect for the past. On the other hand, as a musician
himself, he’s quick to assign himself to the band instead of staying behind the
board, and his style can be heavyhanded. Experimental and atmospheric, his work
is utterly distinctive, with equal attention given to both songs and sounds.
Not everyone is a fan of his approach, but it’s immediately recognizable and
often meshes with an artist’s vision perfectly.


Given his résumé, which includes landmark records by Bob
Dylan, U2, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Robbie Robertson and
the Neville Brothers, not to mention his own acclaimed solo work, his name
would be high on the list of music industry lifers who could come up with an
interesting book. Thus we have Soul
, an account of Lanois’ diverse career that’s part memoir and part
inspirational tome. Eschewing a chronological narrative, Lanois instead picks
moments from his life and zeroes in with a microscope, finding the importance in
the small details of his methods. He often combines a tale from his child- or
young manhood, when he was splitting his time between the stages in Canadian
bars and the professional studio he and his brother built in their mother’s
basement, with a chronicle of working on a record with a major artist. You
won’t get the full story start-to-finish, though he’ll fill in enough details
so you know where the project started and where it ended up. (One significant
exception: Dylan’s Time Out of Mind,
a record obviously important to both legend and producer.) But you’ll get
enough to understand the thinking behind what Lanois brings to the project, and
his mental processes as he decides the best way to follow a musician’s vision while
pushing his/her artistic envelope.


One of the consistent themes running through the book is the
desire to combine the best of the past with the experimentation of the future. While
Lanois often laments the loss of working methods from the analog era, he’s no
purist. He’s perfectly willing to change the game in order to challenge both
himself and his client – a state of mind learned from his early partnership
with noted futurist Brian Eno. The same holds true of his style as a memoirist
– given the option of a straight narrative or a seemingly (but not truly) random
approach that allows him to hold forth on a variety of production and
music-related topics, he chooses the latter, stimulating the reader as he does
his clients. In other words, Lanois carries the same artistic philosophy from
his production work into his book. Soul
may well frustrate those looking for an uncomplicated look at Daniel
Lanois’ life, but give yourself over to its rhythms and you’ll find it an
enriching experience.



Sony Yanks Cox’s Atlas Sound Demos

Damn! Pretty cold to
do that on the Thanksgiving weekend holiday, folks…. Luckily Bradford
Cox has already posted new download links.


By Fred Mills


If you’re a Bradford (Deerhunter) Cox watcher, you’ve
probably been pretty stoked over the past few days since Cox has been posting a
series of demos for his other project, Atlas Sound. Titled Bedroom Databank, he’s already up to Volume 4, which he posted for
download at his official blog yesterday morning. Some of the material was fresh off the hard drive, in fact, as production notes indicate it was recorded on Nov. 24.


Then this morning at Cox’s blog, the following post


“Your Files Have Been Deleted”

Apparently Sony Music
Owns my bedroom. Feel free to call or email and let them know what you think. I
can understand them requesting for me to remove a cover but the only one I can
imagine that happening with is Dylan. Which was on Vol. 1. Which was not
deleted. I am re-uploading the files now. I’ll put new links in the posts



Cox also posted the info transmitted to him by Sony, which
has accused him of “unauthorized reproduction and distribution of copyrighted
sound recordings owned or exclusively distributed by Sony Music.” It appears that
Sony deleted Vols. 2 and 3 – along with Vol. 4, which we presume Cox had posted
for download sometime between Wednesday evening and today.


Luckily, Cox has made good on his word and has posted new
links to the collections of demos. Here are the details, along with the links
to the relevant pages with additional text and the (current) download links.
Grab the demos while you can in case the Cox-Sony war gets nasty!






Vol. 1:


B. COX: Harmonica,
Synthesizer, Drums, Vocals, Computer
W.A.B. II: Maracas, Other Vocals


+ Recorded at Home November 15-22, 2010 on TASCAM DP-08
^ Recorded on Computer Oct. 2010
* Recorded at Home August 2010 on TASCAM DP-08




Vol. 2:


B. COX: Electric Bass, Bells,
Congas, Nylon Guitar, Mouth Organ, Vocals



















Recorded at Home

Recorded at Notown


tracks recorded in 2010




Vol. 3:






3. I




















Vol. 4:


B. COX: Clock Repair, Honesty



















Watch: Everly Brothers Reunion DVD

Issued recently by Eagle Rock Entertainment, The Everly Brothers
Reunion Concert Live at the Royal Albert Hall recaptures a singular glory moment from ’83. Watch a video clip,


By Lee Zimmerman

Before the Beatles and before the Beach Boys, before the
Hollies, the Byrds and Crosby Stills & Nash, the art of harmony was
established with the Everly Brothers, two Kentucky siblings whose shared vocals
created some of the most indelible classics of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s formative era.
The roll call of hits – “Walk Right back,” “When Will I Be Loved,” “Bye Bye
Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Let It Be Me” – puts them right up there on the
same high pedestal as Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, early
signatories to Pop’s cause. Unlike some of their peers, they continued to be
vital and inspired way past their period of initial output – up until 1973, in
fact – when an acrimonious feud unfurled on stage, in full public view, leading
to a schism that lasted a decade.


Appropriately then, when the brothers chose to reconvene in
1983, they also did it in front of their fans, opting for the full grand
spectacle of a concert at London’s stately Albert Hall. The event was
documented several years ago on record, but it takes on a heightened sense of
grandeur with this DVD, which not only includes the full Royal Albert set, but
an insightful must-see documentary, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Odyssey,” featuring archival
video, family recollections, behind the scenes footage from the Royal Albert
Hall concert and interviews with both the brothers and famous admirers such as
Chet Atkins, Linda Rondstadt and Felice
and Boudleaux Bryant, the writers of so many of their hits.


The concert itself is an emotional experience, and watching
the brothers – who seemed to have physically aged very little — reconnect
onstage, singing the songs that were such an indelible part of their shared
history, is clearly a moving experience for both audience and performers. They
mention their “acrimonious vacation” only briefly in passing, but no matter. As
the thunderous reaction from the audience attests, rarely has a concert proved
so essential… and embracing.


Thankfully then, the participants proved up the task. The
white jacketed British backing band, including the accomplished guitarist Albert
Lee, the much-in-demand pianist Pete Wingfield and members of Cliff Richard’s
support stable, does an outstanding job of giving these iconic classics the
subtle instrumental presence they merit. 
Likewise, when the brothers alone command the stage for intimate
renditions of early songs like “Barbara Allen,” “Put My Little Shoes Away” and
“Long Time Gone,” the effect is no less mesmerizing. Each of the performances
are flawless in fact, making this comeback more than merely a symbolic gesture,
but rather, a musical milestone that’s just as tender and touching today as it
was originally. True brotherly love indeed.


Special Features: none





Axl Rose Sues Guitar Hero Over “Slash”

You saw this one
coming a mile away, admit it…


By Fred Mills


With Thanksgiving just a few hours away, Los Angeles-area
lawyers are giving thanks for Axl Rose and his perennially-litigious frame of mind.
According to a report published this morning at, the Guns N’
Roses majordomo has filed suit against Activision, which creates the “Guitar Hero” video game, to the tune of
$20 million.


The lawsuit claims that the game maker “violated a deal not
to include any imagery” or references to former GNR guitarist Slash (or, for
that matter, Slash’s post-GNR outfit Velvet Revolver) – the likeness of Slash,
of course, turns up in the GNR song “Welcome to the Jungle” in the video game,
outfitted in his signature hat, sunglasses and nose ring. When Rose spotted
this, he apparently went ballistic.


The lawsuit is quoted as stating, “[Activision] began
spinning a web of lies and deception to conceal its true intentions to not only
feature Slash and VR prominently in GH
but also promote the game by emphasizing and reinforcing an association
between Slash and Guns N’ Roses and the band’s song ‘Welcome to the Jungle’.”


There’s a lot more, and you can read the entire report here at



Fire Recs Does 30 Giant Sand Reissues

First three are
already out, with the remainder set to start rolling out pronto. Watch this
space tomorrow for a special announcement….


By Fred Mills


Back in the summer we published a massive, two-part
with Giant Sand mainman Howe Gelb. Among sundry matters he outlined
some of his plans for the remainder of 2010, which included releasing a new
Giant Sand record, which he’d recently finished recording in Denmark (where
most of the band members actually liveas well as reissuing the first one, 1985’s
Valley of Rain.


(Gelb had a funny story to go with the latter that’s worth
repeating here: “I’d decided to move to L.A.
and drove out there, because I’d had two records I’d recorded and each one
found a home. Ten minutes before the Giant Sand record, I put together a
country record called the Band of Blacky
, and a guy in France wanted to put that out and a guy in England
wanted to put out the Giant Sand record, as well as Enigma Records here. So I
had both tapes in the car, had decided to move to L.A. in my van, and the night
I got there I had a feeling the van was going to get ripped off, and I took all
my stuff out of it, but I forgot about the tapes, they were behind the couch.
And sure enough the van did get broken into, and they stole a bunch of stuff of
my bass players. And I thought I had taken everything out, I was really happy,
and then later I realized, “fuck, the tapes are in there.” And the
funny thing was I forgot that a friend of mine, a radio guy named Jonathan L,
had given me a cactus to take out to a friend of his, and the cactus saved two
of the reels because whoever was rooting around there in the dark obviously got
spoinked by the cactus. So some junkie or something stole two reels, which was
the final mixes of the first Giant Sand record, so we had to remix them. We
have since found a cassette of the original mixes, so it’s just like a little
interesting aside. Not an important thing, but it’s nice to hear it on
cassette, and it sounds good, so we’ll release that version of it.”)


At any rate, the new GS
album, Blurry Blue Mountain, is out
this week via the Fire label and we shall have a full review of it promptly. Also,
check back with BLURT tomorrow, Nov.
25, as we’ll have a very special announcement of yet another new Gelb-related title that is about to come available – we
guarantee you’ll be surprised.


In the meantime, however, Fire has also unleashed the 25th Anniversary Edition of Valley of Rain, additionally announcing plans for an
ambitious reissue program for 30 albums dotting the GS/Gelb back catalogue.
Just out are 25th Anniversary Editions of 1986’s Ballad Of A Thin Line Man and 1988’s Storm, both core though often overlooked
titles in the band’s canon; Storm has
long been a favorite of yours truly, and it’s great to have that and the others
in pristine remastered/remixed form. Each title also boasts new artwork and
liners; Valley of Rain sports a
different track sequence from the original LP, and latter two also have one
bonus track apiece. These and all forthcoming titles will be available on vinyl
too. You can read a good review roundup of the three albums at and
keep your eyes peeled for the BLURT treatment as well.


Coming up next will be Love
(1988), Long Stem Rant (1989) and Swerve (1990). The
projected reissue schedule is below, but as a note on the Fire site cautions,
exact dates are tentative. Regardless, 2011 looks to be the Year of the Sand
Man. (For a comprehensive Giant Sand discography, click over to our good
friends at Sa-Wa-Ro. You’ll be glad you did, and more than a tad amazed at the sheer
quantity of music that Gelb has been responsible for in nearly three decades of



27th SEPTEMBER 2010
GIANT SAND – Valley Of Rain (25th Anniversary Edition)

GIANT SAND – Blurry Blue Mountain & Valley Of Rain (25th Anniversary
GIANT SAND – Blurry Blue Mountain
GIANT SAND – Ballad Of A Thin Man (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Storm (25th Anniversary Edition)

GIANT SAND – Love Songs (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Long Stem Rant (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Swerve (25th Anniversary Edition)

GIANT SAND – Ramp (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Center Of The Universe (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Purge & Slouch (25th Anniversary Edition)

GIANT SAND – Backyard BBQ Broadcast (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Goods & Services (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Glum (25th Anniversary Edition)

GIANT SAND – Chore Of Enchantment (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Cover Magazine (25th Anniversary Edition)
GIANT SAND – Black Out (25th Anniversary Edition)

MARCH 2011
HOWE GELB – Confluence
HOWE GELB – ….Some Piano
HOWE GELB – Hisser
HOWE GELB – Dreaded Brown Recluse
HOWE GELB – Sno Angel Wingin It

APRIL 2011
The Band Of Blacky
– The Band Of Blacky

The Band Of Blacky
– Sage Advice
The Band Of Blacky
– Heartland
The Band Of Blacky
– Still Looking Good To Me

MAY 2011
GIANT SAND – Its All Over The Map (25th Anniversary Edition)

JULY 2011
HOWE GELB – Sno Angel Like You





Read: Steven Pond’s Head Hunters Book


recently by University
of Michigan Press,
Hunters: The Making of Jazz’s First Platinum Album does more than give the bestselling 1973 album from Herbie Hancock a
reappraisal – it challenges the way critics and the public frequently view the
intersection of jazz and commercialism.


By Steve Pick

When histories of jazz are written, fusion gets short
shrift. Oh, Miles Davis gets acknowledged for being the first to mix jazz
elements with rock instrumentation and volume, and maybe Weather Report and
Herbie Hancock get mentioned for selling a million records. But for the most
part, the way things were in the ‘70s gets shuffled to the side, as if there
was nothing more interesting than a rearguard action by some acoustic
traditionalists waiting for Wynton Marsalis to come along and pick up the jazz
tradition in the ‘80s. Or, alternatively, the ‘70s avant-garde players carried
their own flame in opposition to the commercial fusion players until they had
to fight their own mostly losing battle against the neo-cons led by Marsalis.


Either way, these histories ignore the incontrovertible fact
that it’s pretty hard to sit still in your seat when “Chameleon” from Herbie
Hancock’s Head Hunters album comes on
the stereo. Holy moley, this is one heck of an exhilarating track, with so much
syncopated movement going on in the multiple rhythms of the bass, percussion,
conga, drums, and clavinet. For over fifteen minutes, the funk inspiration
strikes, providing perfect grounding for synthesizer and soprano sax solos to
jump around the beats. No, it doesn’t sound like Art Blakey and his Jazz
Messengers or the Art Ensemble of Chicago, but
there seems no question that art is being made here.


Steven F. Pond sets out to closely examine Head Hunters, and in the process
explores questions of genre identity, commercialism, the African music
diaspora, the nature of funk, and the role of marketing in music. For many
years, Head Hunters was the
best-selling jazz album of all time (until eventually Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue caught up and surpassed
it), and yet critics at the time of its release were sharply divided as to
whether or not it was even jazz. Pond prefers to use fusion jazz as the term
for the music here and by Miles, Weather Report, Return to Forever, and Grover
Washington, Jr., to name a few disparate entities sharing only electric
amplification as common ground. His opening chapter is a bravura take-down of
the idea of narrowly defining genre at all. By comparing a number of critics
and the way they attempt to define these musics as something related to but
largely outside jazz itself, Pond shows that the impulse to reinforce one’s own
tastes through genre rules breaks down at both the edges and the center when
looked at carefully.


Commercialism is a bugaboo not just in jazz, but pretty much
all across the musical spectrum. There is seemingly a universal need for
individuals to define their tastes in opposition to that of others, and one of
the easiest ways to do this is to declare popular music inherently lesser than
that which is heard by smaller, apparently hipper audiences. There is no
question that music which receives a larger listenership must have something
which makes it connect to a wider range of backgrounds, but it doesn’t
necessarily follow that the only way to do this is to “dumb” down the product
into an essence of lowest common denominator. For one thing, Duke Ellington,
the Beatles, and Nirvana had huge hits in their careers, but their critical
reputation has never suffered.  Pond
quotes Head Hunters producer David
Rubinson: “They’d say, “Jesus, this record was successful, he made a lot of
money. That must have been his motivation.” And that’s completely backwards.
The motivation was to make the music that they wanted. And the fact that it
sold was a side effect.”



Pond has a blast tracing the connections between African-based
music around the world and the sound of Head
. It may have been mentioned before, but not very often, that funk
is related to the roll of the gankogui bell found in Anlo-Ewe music from the
coast of Ghana, and thus to the more familiar clave heard in Afro-Cuban music.
By incorporating the concept of signifyin’, familiar to us through the
African-American word play of the dozens, into musical terms, and using Amiri
Baraka’s concept of “the changing same” to show that what is borrowed from one
aspect of African culture can be transferred onto a different role with a
similar purpose in another, Pond shows that Head
has as much to do with traditions outside the U.S. as it does with
whatever commercial aspirations may have existed in 1973. Here and in the
chapter on funk, Pond uses written music to give extra meaning to his examples;
they are not necessary to gain an understanding of his points, but depending on
familiarity with rhythmic depictions, at least, they do give greater emphasis.


Which brings us to funk. Again and again, fusion jazz
musicians in the early years cite James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone as a
primary influence on their decision to try this new approach. Pond demonstrates
exactly what it was that attracted players with a jazz background to this new
syncopated approach, and his close analysis of “Make It Funky” by Brown and
“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin” by Sly give even greater appreciation
for their achievements. In addition, Pond traces the origins of funk itself
back into jazz history, with the incorporation of Afro-Cuban elements into hard
bop. So jazz influenced pop before pop influenced jazz to become pop. Musicians
do their best work when they don’t worry nearly as much as critics and fans do
about genre restrictions.


Early on, Pond discusses the concept of a “web of
affiliations,” a notion to which he returns again and again. Genre, commercial
success, African influences, and funk all play a role in the understanding of Head Hunters, but rather than assume
each of these is a separate concept, Pond believes them to be interrelated. The
jazz desire for improvisation and originality merges with the African
influences which were exotic at the time and the funk influences which were
changing the way music was heard, leading to a perfect nexus for commercial
success. But Pond takes these webbed ideas further, and links them to a
discussion of marketing, a subject rarely discussed in any serious works on
music criticism. Head Hunters was not
a success the first few months it was in stores until a particular Warner
Brothers promotions man pushed the record outside of the jazz sections in
record stores and convinced R&B DJs to play it on the radio. Vernon
Slaughter is not a name familiar to music fans, but he brought to life his
conviction that Head Hunters could
reach a new audience. Of course, timing is everything – within a few more
years, radio would be more rigidly controlled, and the influence of one area’s
promotions would not be able to bump sales up nationally.


There is more in Pond’s book, particularly about the
aesthetics of studio overdubbing. By focusing so relentlessly on one beloved
album which has not received the critical attention it deserves, Pond forces a
rethinking of much that is conventionally accepted by music historians. It’s
not as though he’s suggesting a dropping of critical standards so much as
remembering that those standards are created the same way that the music is,
within a context of cultural, historical, commercial, artistic, and individual
concepts which change depending on when, where and how – and by whom – they are