Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

The Tracking Angle Interview: Los Lobos- America's Band

By Michael Fremer

The goodies were stacked on a big table in the corner of the stars' dressing room: an industrial size sack of M&M Peanuts, big bags of Herr's tortilla and potato chips, a jar of Pace brand Thick and Chunky Salsa, fresh fruit, a ten pack of Kellogg's cereals, a plate of muffins, a cheese, tomato and deli platter, jars of Hellman's mayonnaise and Grey Poupon mustard, and some local color- loaves of Stroehmann's Pennsylvania Dutch and white bread and a big red box of Ivins' "Famous Spiced Wafers."

"Did the Los Lobos guys really ask for Pace salsa in a jar? Or did the Electric Factory people figure the beaners would expect it? If Al Kooper plays there do they put out knishes and Cel-Ray tonic?," I'm thinking. I was hungry, but I wasn't going to help myself to the band's food. If I couldn't eat it, I'd memorize it, which I did. And I waited. And waited.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

MF: Why are there so many guest drummers on your records?

LP: Because I'm a guitar player. I think what happened in the ’70s with all the disco kind of stuff — all the drummers became, like, machines? So that kind of drumming became a prerequisite....

MF: And how did you feel about that? Was that pushed on the band?

Unidentified voice: The White man again! [Laughter]

MF: That was pushed on the band....

Unidentified voice: The evil White Demon! [More laughter]

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

Los Lobos On Record

This survey omits the group's first independent release (1978), and the La Bamba Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1987)

(Album covers can be found in the Photo Gallery, accessible below the picture of the site mascot, Mr. Eno).

Matthew Greenwald  |  Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments

Gene Clark went from superstar status to cult favorite faster than probably any artist in rock’s history. Departing from The Byrds at the very height of their powers (immediately after “Eight Miles High”, which he was the major architect of), he bounced from label to label, cutting some of the greatest albums of the late-60’s and early 70’s in the process. He progressed, flowered and remained, in a quiet way, one of the finest singer-songwriters of the period, and in hindsight, chronicled the stylistic shifts in music and social mores as well as anyone, including larger lights such as Neil Young. Some of his finest work was for A&M Records, either in tandem with Doug Dillard (The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark, which mid-wife’d the ‘country rock’ genre) and 1971’s Gene Clark - also known as White Light to many fans; as good as any ‘singer-songwriter’ record from the early 70’s. On this album, none other than Bob Dylan commented that one song, the epic “Spanish Guitar”, was one that he wished he’d written.

Matthew Greenwald  |  Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments

This is such a wide-ranging album of varying degrees of music and entertainment that it’s virtually impossible to classify or label…and that’s probably the way Judy Henske enjoyed it. Like her first two albums for Elektra, this collection of songs ranges from Broadway-inspired pop to folk to soul, folk-rock, and blues (and beyond). Henske’s ability to mark her territory in all of these genres, define it… and then burn it down - is decidedly spellbinding. But aside from her astonishing voice, this live in-the-studio record captures her hilarious, slightly stoned-out humor. To be sure, they’ll probably be a few listeners who will be tempted to skip some of the lengthy, in between song raps and introductions; but they’d be selling themselves short. Inspired by Lenny Bruce and Lord Buckley (among others) Judy’s politically-incorrect/Beat attitude wreaks havoc over codified ‘rules’ of public behavior, especially for women in 1966. As emancipated, independent and equally talented as Slick, Joplin or Elliot, Judy Henske should be mentioned in the same breath as those women - and the proof is right here.

Matthew Greenwald  |  Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments

The opening track to Starsailor’s sophomore long-player, Silence Is Easy claims “Music Was Saved”. I won’t go so far as to take that totally to heart, but at times, and in some ways, the album makes me feel that way. There is a special sense of camaraderie, and yes, salvation throughout the proceedings, that leaves one feeling buoyant, liberated and cleansed—and it has less to do with musicianship or sonic appeal, and more to do with the songs themselves.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments

Calling himself Palace Music, or Palace Brothers, or Push, and of late Bonnie “Prince” Billy, the enigmatic Will Oldham, aided by a group of musical cohorts, has been making a spare brand of dry, mournful country/rock music for more than a decade. Before the term alta-country had been coined, it could be argued, the 34 year old Oldham had both invented and perfected the musical form on a series of genre-shattering albums issued on the Chicago based Drag City label beginning in 1993.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

Producer Rick Rubin born in Long Beach, Long Island, New York in 1963, graduated high school in 1981. Johnny Cash, born in Kingsland, Arkansas in 1932, graduated high school in 1950. Yet these two, separated in time by more than thirty years, and by an even wider socio-cultural gap, will forever be linked by the music they created together during Cash’s last decade of life. Rubin’s resurrection of Cash’s career with the release of American Music in 1994 is but one fascinating facet of this enigmatic figure’s twenty year career in music.

In 1984, while a film and video student at N.Y.U., Rubin met Russell Simmons at Danceteria—a New York club where downtown hardcore rockers and uptown rappers mixed comfortably—and the two immediately hit it off, sharing a common musical vision of hard beats and hard rhymes, with Simmons drawing from R&B roots and Rubin from hard rock. Rubin had a vision of melding the two seemingly disparate musical forms and though he’d never produced a record, he sought out the duo of T. La Rock and Jazzy Jay, and out of that came a 12” vinyl single, “It’s Yours,” which was released on Partytime/Streetwise records. It featured rhyming raps set to a loud, hardcore beat with metal overtones. Though the track went on to sell around 100,000 copies—an impressive number for the newly emerging musical genre—Rubin was never paid for his work.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  1 comments

MF: Just to change the subject, do you know who P.D. Ouspensky is?

RR: Yes.

MF: Did you read “In Search of the Miraculous?”

RR: Yes.

MF: That book changed my life. I don’t live it but he managed to merge mysticism with science and create a music-based universe.

RR: Have you ever listened to the Gurdjieff piano pieces?

MF: Keith Jarrett recorded some, and Thomas D. Hartmann?

RR: Yes. They are so beautiful. I listen to those quite a lot.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  2 comments

MF: You seem like the kind of person who looks around and sees what’s bother you in music—things that are not being done—and you do them. I mean, that’s how you got started in music, essentially. So who’s out there now that’s lying fallow that need to be re-cultivated? Don’t say Yoko Ono.

RR: There are a couple, but I can’t talk about it yet. A couple that I think could really be special.

MF: Have you approached any of them?

RR: A couple.

MF: Well they’ve seen what you’ve done so I can’t imagine it will be as difficult as it might have been getting to Johnny Cash. How about Neil Diamond as a person to do a record with?

RR: He’s one of my favorite artists of all time. Incredible.