By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
And if that don't set your wig-hat spinnin' on your head, pick up on the vintage radio spot tacked onto the fade of blue-eyed-soul singer/songwriter Dan Penn's "Memphis Women and Fried Chicken," wherein WLOK/Memphis DJ Old "Kane" Cole advises listeners to visit "Frank's Cut-Rate Liquor Store, right next door to the Green Beetle Lounge. Where you can get yourself a fifth of Old Crow and go over to the Green Beetle Lounge and drink it right down. And if you want, you can get yourself some cans of beer to take home with you afterward," while a woman wails, "Oh mama, papa's got them Green Beetle Blues" over an appropriately dypsomaniacal piano, drums, bass and "git-fiddle." An additional two minutes of this authentic American folk poetry provides the fitting close to this perfect-for-parties platter. (Don Waller)
Caetano Veloso didn't need the swell of a charismatic 12-piece ensemble, every man among them a virtuoso and dancer, too ("So talented, and so charming!" the singer exclaimed of one fine drummer). He didn't need light effects (strobe, moonlight, dramatic fade-out), and he certainly didn't need Beck, although the brief, gawky presence of the bright young egghead, sloppy hairdo and all, on Veloso's ode to his sister, "Maria Bethânia," only confirmed the resilient beauty of Veloso's songwriting (as Veloso's halting cover of "Tropicalia" did for Beck, who lauded Veloso's interpretation as "sexier than I could do it").
If this summer evening at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater, the fourth stop on Veloso's Livro Vivo tour (named for the record released last month) and only his second live performance in L.A., had consisted solely of Veloso's unpredictable antics, liquid voice and straightforward guitar, it would have been an aesthetically fortifying experience, the kind that leaves audiences with a satisfied glow of having done something meaningful. Instead, Veloso's night of the living book plays like a carefully constructed Brazilian avant-garde circus, with himself as a set piece, his slight body and viscous sound forming a link between samba and John Cage. In a suit and skinny tie, he dances with a purposeful awkwardness David Byrne could well have copied; he holds his guitar aloft like a doll being manipulated into strict postures, and he surrenders himself frequently to delightfully weird tableaux: While his musicians work themselves into a percussive lather around him, Veloso stands stock-still midstage under a large mobile that hangs from the ceiling, one hand outstretched to mimic the art's abstract shape. But if Veloso on his own is like a force of nature exerting some ineffable attraction on humans, he's made transcendent by his musicians, in particular the drum corps (Josino Eduardo, Eduardo Josino, Marcio Vitor Santos and Andre Junior) that forces Veloso fans, row by row, to their feet. Add the lilt of Rowney Scott's soprano sax, and the cello played by Jacques Morelenbaum, who also serves as Veloso's musical director, and Brazil's sexiest postmodern political-cultural sage -- a "subversive pan-Americanist," as he described himself upon introducing "Manhatã" ("Manhattan") -- turns into a symbol of high-minded eroticism and progressive musicianship the likes of which exists nowhere else on Earth.
Veloso has always been a radical. In the '60s he spoke out against Brazil's dictatorship and got himself kicked out of the country; he founded the "Tropicalismo" movement with Gilberto Gil around the same time, and these days he puts 12-tone melodies to a samba beat. Recent attention paid to him may launch the 56-year-old into that ephemeral realm known as American pop-culture fame, during which his proposed dream record of Brazilian standards will sell millions of copies and he'll make an MTV video. Loyal Veloso aficionados, whose airy, feminine voices float up from the crowd like magic dust whenever Veloso does a song they know, should wish for this impending phenomenon for only one reason: It means that evenings like this one will be less rare. (Judith Lewis)
A Miller-time Tale Blind Guardian at the Iron Hill
BY ANDREW LENTZ
BLIND GUARDIAN Nightfall in Middle-Earth (Century Media)
Part ethnomusicologists, part con men with fevered imaginations, Teutonic heathens Blind Guardian resurrect a long-abandoned subgenre of hard rock, burrowing so single-mindedly into Western Europe's music traditions that they've stumbled upon its troubadour roots. Nightfall in Middle-Earth's metallic aggression is ballasted by shimmery acoustic 12-string, glockenspiel, lute and pretty minnesinger-type chiming in unison over this 22-track fugue based loosely on Tolkien's The Silmarillion.
A suspension of current-pop disbelief is required to reap the full pleasures of Blind Guardian, unless you have a soft spot for the brief mid-'80s peak of this genre's commercial appeal (in the immortal words of Europe, those Adonis-like Swedes: "Rock now, rock the night/Woe-ho, woe-ho"). Spoilsports be damned, your flesh will horripilate at the splendid "Mirror, Mirror"; hearts will beat a bit faster with the hard-won brotherhood of "Time Stands Still (at the Iron Hill)"; and spirits will rise to empyrean heights with the gorgeous triptych "A Dark Passage." Axmen André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen -- the former coaxing trilly pomp from his fretboard, while the latter anchors him in the speediest of power shredding -- are real studly workhorses. 'Tis a pity vocalist/bassist Hansi Kürsch doesn't warble in his native tongue -- all the more to evoke merrie olde England, one must suppose.