Michael Fremer  |  Oct 01, 2003  |  0 comments

Aimee Mann’s pensive, surreal walk through a littered landscape of love gone wrong, double dealings, temptations (drugs and otherwise) and painful breakups (not hers— she’s still married to Michael Penn last time I checked) owes a great deal conceptually and lyrically to Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom—at least to my ears. You can almost hear El singing “Guys Like Me” and “Invisible Ink.”

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 01, 2003  |  1 comments

The Welsh group’s latest album is a sprawling, densely packed ambitious affair, filled with bouncy/sludgy ‘60’s pop melodic vistas that often sink into mysterious, dark, twisted musical and violent lyrical undergrowth. Lead singer Gruff Rhys’s chocolate-coated vocals are the perfect foil for the fatalistic, slyly rendered subject matter: the war in Iraq, war in general, pollution, petro-chemical mayhem, and even a song seemingly about two pet turtles named Venus and Serena (“Flushing meadows down the stream/Living life as though it’s a dream”). All of it is delivered lightly dusted with tuneful confectioner’s sugar.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 30, 2003  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments
65 year old former "stoner comic" Tommy Chong was sentenced to 9 months in the Federal slammer and forced to fork over 120,000 dollars by a foolish, mean-spirited Federal judge in Pittsburgh, PA yesterday, convicted of selling so-called "drug paraphernalia" over the Internet.
Elliot Kallen  |  Sep 30, 2003  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

Editor's note: The album covers accompanying this survey appear separately in our "photo gallery" which can be accessed near the bottom of the home page. We are proud to have Elliot Kallen's byline appear on

(This is a survey of the recorded output of saxophonist Charles Lloyd, from his first appearance on record with the Chico Hamilton band to his present work on the ECM label as leader. As such, it's not a detailed listing of every single date he's done, merely my personal choices for content, interest, or historical context. I've used the framework of an interview with Lloyd to flesh out some of the circumstances and musical environments that helped produce the albums. In other words, if I've left out one of your favorite Lloyd sessions...get over it.)—EK

In the middle 1960's, Charles Lloyd's jazz group was a bona fide phenomenon. Audiences connected with their vibrant blending of jazz improvisation and propulsive rock rhythms. They were the first jazz group booked into the premiere rock palace of the day, the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. They brought their heady concoction of musical freedom to virtually every corner of the globe, and were received as avatars in the process. Critics were often divided, but the audiences, mostly composed of younger people, were immediately drawn to the band's sound. An album recorded live at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Forest Flower, sold like a rock album.

Steve Taylor  |  Sep 30, 2003  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

Editor's Note: I am pleased to post this new piece by one of The Tracking Angle's most fearless and original writers, Steve Taylor. When he wrote for The Tracking Angle, Taylor almost always covered lesser known groups and composers. Taylor managed to convey the color, emotional content and meaning of unfamiliar, and often difficult music with great clarity and infectious enthusiasm. With this overview of the composer Kaikhosru Sorabji, Taylor picks up where he left off. We are fortunate to have him back, and hope you agree.

As with the Charles Lloyd piece, because of technical limitations, images of the pianist Michael Habermann and available album cover art will be found in the "Photo Gallery," accessible at the bottom left hand side of the home page.—MF

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2003  |  0 comments

Baby boomers no more appreciated Sam Cooke’s slick conquest of the Jewish supper club set when it was first recorded and issued on RCA Victor in 1964—the same year Cooke died—than they did Bobby Darin’s. To some teens at the time, “You Send Me,” and “Splish Splash,” were theirs, but this dated style Copacabana review was their parents’. In retrospect, the million plus seller “You Send Me,” was much closer to easy listening than to rock’n roll, and while Darin’s foray into the teen market with tunes like “Splish Splash, and “Dream Lover,” was explicit to the point of being exploitive, Cooke’s chart success with songs like “Chain Gang,” was far more subtly drawn. Perhaps that’s because, having already succeeded as a gospel singer with the Soul Stirrers, and as a soul star on the black “chitlin’ circuit,” he was less in need of pop stardom. Darin may have roamed, but it was within a more limited territory, until events of the ‘60s—musically and otherwise— shattered his slick showbiz pretenses.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2003  |  0 comments

The Beatles made four unforgettable live appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, February 9, 16, 23rd 1964, and one more, over a year and a half later on September 12, 1965. While the fourth was almost anti-climactic, the first three rightly retain a mythological status, with an amazing 73 million Americans tuning in for The Beatles’s first appearance. In those pre-VCR, pre-400 cable channels days, The Beatles literally appeared out of nowhere, drove the teenagers in the audience crazy, and then disappeared, leaving the kids gasping for air and wondering whether they’d actually seen their idols, or hallucinated them. There would be no taped playback at home, or excerpts on “Entertainment Weekly.” The Beatles didn’t make “the rounds” and visit other shows, because there really weren’t any. Some still shots in Life or in some teenybopper magazine were the best that could be hoped for.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2003  |  0 comments

Three of the most important elements in successful pop music making (I don’t mean the Britany variety), in my opinion, are tunes, craft and originality. Paloalto has two out of three, and that’s more than enough to push this pleasing disc into the spotlight. The missing element is the most difficult one to discover, create of whatever it is, and that’s originality. Paloalto follow partially in the footsteps of the British band Travis—and to a far lesser degree, Coldplay—and that’s all there is to it. Given that this sensitive, introspective genre is often called “shoe-gazing music,” in what else but footsteps would you expect them to follow?

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2003  |  0 comments

The heir apparent to the Elton John/Billy Joel musical fortune culled these 17 tracks from live performances recorded during a daring 6 month long nationwide solo tour. Daring because a guy and a piano needs to project like hell to fill some of the mid-sized halls in which Folds played, and he does. A guy and an acoustic piano can still fill a big space.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2003  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

Jack Pfeiffer: The Last Interview

When I sat down at last January's (1996) Consumer Electronics Show with veteran RCA producer Jack Pfeiffer, I had no way of knowing that I would be conducting the final interview he would ever give. Pfeiffer suffered a fatal heart attack on Thursday February 8th, 1996 at his RCA office where he'd worked in the Red Seal division for the past forty seven years. He was 75.

Jack Pfeiffer was a pleasant man, soft spoken and easy to talk to. When my rather limited knowledge of the classical music world became apparent, he picked up the slack so I wouldn't feel too uncomfortable.

My reason for speaking with him had less to do with anything technical, and more to do with getting his take on the work being rediscovered and appreciated by a younger generation of music lovers thirty plus years later, and how, given the usual corporate bottom line mentality (yes, even then) such a dedication to quality could prevail. So yes, it was more People and less Mix and under the circumstances that's fine with me.