Monthly Archives: September 2019

The timelessness of protest

You don’t need me to tell you what’s going down in this country these days. You know what the score is.

Did you say you’re a public servant?
Well, then let me ask you why
You’re keeping the public uninformed
When you’re not feedin’ us with lies

Listen to our founding fathers
Sit down and read the Bill of Rights
You’d better learn how to play the game by the rules
Or you’re gonna have an awful fight

Sounds a lot like today, right?

This is Chi Coltrane, the singer and pianist most know from the hit single “Thunder and Lightning,” dropping some thunder and lightning on the president in 1972.

There it is, the timelessness of protest.

‘Cause I will not dance to your music
And I will not drink your wine
And I will not toast to your success
Because you’re no friend of mine, oh yeah, you know it
You’re no friend of mine

Nope, no friend of mine then, no friend of mine now.

“I Will Not Dance,” Chi Coltrane, from “Chi Coltrane,” 1972.

This was from Coltrane’s debut LP. So what happened to Chi Coltrane?

After “Let It Ride,” the follow-up LP, came out in 1973, Coltrane recorded sporadically. In 1977, she moved to Europe, where she found a more passionate following and released three records during the ’80s. Her last LP of new material was “The Message,” one of those European releases, in 1986. She returned to Los Angeles in 1993 and built a recording studio.

Ten years ago, in 2009, Coltrane resumed performing. That year, she also released a career retrospective comp with three new songs. In 2012, she released a live CD of a “comeback concert” in Vienna on her own label.

Now 70, Coltrane remains popular in Europe, particularly Switzerland and Germany, playing shows there as recently as last year.

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Filed under September 2019, Sounds

It was anything but nirvana

Seen today on Twitter.

After “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit the radio in the fall of 1991, I vividly remember the first time I heard it.

It came on the radio while I was sitting in the car, parked outside Osco Drug and the old Port Plaza Mall in downtown Green Bay.

My immediate reaction, for better or worse: “What the f*ck is this?”

It was the first time that I felt disconnected from what was on the radio. I was no kid anymore, but I wasn’t middle-aged, either. I was 34, just 10 years old than Kurt Cobain.

It was a time during which everything I loved about music seemed to be unraveling.

The radio, my close friend for more than 20 years, no longer spoke to me.

MTV, a joy to watch just 10 years earlier, was evolving into just another conventionally programmed TV channel.

Vinyl records were going away, replaced by CDs. I was going along with it, buying CDs.

This epic disruption in the force is evident by the massive gap in my record collection.

The last vinyl record I — or perhaps we — bought before The Great Disconnection was the Smithereens’ “11,” which came out in October 1989. I didn’t buy another new vinyl record for 18 years, until I picked up Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings’ “100 Days, 100 Nights,” which came out in October 2007. We’d seen her earlier that year while visiting New York.

I think back to the time of The Great Disconnection, probably sometime in the early ’00s. I remember the sparks from the flint, trying to rekindle a once-roaring fire.

One day, I walked through Amazing Records, a used record store here in Green Bay. How much fun all this once was, I thought. It doesn’t seem that it will ever be that great again, I thought. I didn’t buy anything.

One day, I went to a record show in a college gym. I looked at a lot of records, but felt much the same emptiness. At the end of the day, I bought a record to replace one of the records that went out in The Great Vinyl Purge of 1989. CDs were the future in 1989, so I got rid of dozens of records at a friend’s garage sale. “Hey, there are a lot of good records in here,” one garage sale shopper said. Yes, there were.

But that day at the college gym was a new day. I bought a replacement copy of Bob and Doug McKenzie’s “Great White North.”

In 2006, I discovered music blogs, as did the mainstream media. A story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tipped me to the first few “audioblogs” I followed. Record diggers ran some of those blogs.

A year later, in 2007, I followed their lead. I started this blog and I started record digging. It’s been great to have it all back.

It’s nice to be past The Great Disconnection ushered in by “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” That time was indeed a …

“Blue Period,” the Smithereens, from “11,” 1989. The last new vinyl record I — or perhaps we — bought for 18 years.

 

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Filed under September 2019, Sounds