Archive | October, 2017

How I Spent My Last King Crimson Summer Vacation.

30 Oct

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I lost my notes on what was going to be an attempt of mine writing something of social value, like I used to do in the golden days of editorialized pages of the Comics Buyer’s Guide. It was to be my middle age viewpoint of what patriotism (or lack thereof) means to me, the anti climate of Hollywood, and so on and so forth as seen through the eyes of a recent CAPTAIN AMERICA comic book – so in the meantime, AS I ATTEMPT TO RESEMBLE THOSE SCATTERED NOTES IN THE WIND TUNNEL OF MY MIND, I think on the side, I really want the time to clear out the inventory of my old DPRP concert reviews with a little sweetening of the new hope of what’s ahead for one of my all time favorite prog heavy rock bands – or perhaps THE progenitor of my all time favorite PROG HEAVY ROCK BANDS.

For the past three times I’ve been to the Greek Theater. It’s always been Yes, Yes, more Yes + Toto, – so the fourth wall time is the charm to finally check out someone else magnificent under the stars. When I heard the announcement from Peter Tilden, a local talk show host and television writer, that King Crimson was doing a fifth anniversary retrospective tour of their entire studio discography – it was probably something that I would bite me on the wonder nads lust of my teenage upbringing if I hadn’t made the effort to see this tour.

Sadly, Roger Waters was playing his massive solo tour in support of his latest studio opus that very same night at the Los Angeles Staple Center on that early summer June evening.  I already saw Roger Waters live at the San Diego Sports Arena when he was busy touting his RADIO KAOS and he wasn’t close to filling up half that place back in 1987.

So it was very heavy regret that I  had to say – FUCK HIM. I was never a Pink Floyd loyalist like some of the kids I went to high school with. King Crimson was a unique band for me to follow back in high school BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE SEEMED TO LIKE THEM like I did. In the case of Roger ‘s  first new studio album, Is This The Life You Really Want? in nearly 25 years, give or take that crappy opera he released a decade or so back, none of his schtick seems hardly relevant these days. It’s a case of too little too late. With the exception of a few anti-Trump songs and the regurgitated Animal themes, Waters barely makes a spectacle with the same old same old Pink Floyd songs that you’ve already performed on his previous over wrought Wall soirees.

King Crimson, on the other hand brings us continuing hope for the progressive rock future. Their latest line-up, a blend of the old faces with the new faces. Robert Fripp and Tony Levin have been at the forefront of every tour I’ve attended. Their last tour was the first one I’ve ever seen without Adrian Belew being the front and center stage commander. This time leading King Crimson 7.0 is vocalist Jakko Jakszyk (The Tangent), joined by extra hands on drummer Jeremy Stacey (The Lemon Tree) playing the part of Jamie Muir, along with drummer and synthesizer/mellotron player Bill Reiflin (REM). Also newish to the fold is ex-Porcupine Tree drummer extraordinaire Gavin Harrison (my first tour seeing him in action) joining newly reappointed saxophone and flutist Mel Collins after a seriously absent forty-year plus sabbatical.

The 2017 US Radical Action tour (featuring the Double Quartet Formation) that is now winding up is the concert I’ve always dreamed about attending back in high school. It was a beginner’s guide to all the gems you’ve always wanted to hear performed live with nearly incarnation of the band represented. “Cirkus” from 1970’s Lizard album was one of the leading jawdroppers that Fripp pulled from out of his hat and the title track from the following album Islands released in 1971, was nearly enough to bring me to tears (I was thinking of an old female myspace gal pal from the U.K. by the name of Miss Lady Bee during this performance of how she wrote to me expressing Robert Fripp, can without a doubt, can exhibit a deep-rooted romantic side). Another bombastic surprise was the opening encore performance of Fripp’s very famous collaboration with David Bowie called “Heroes”. Believe me, a lot of people in the audience didn’t see that coming, but me being a hard-core follower, had purchased the live EP sampler before heading in half expected it.  Also new songs from a forthcoming album (I hope) were premiered, but silly me didn’t bring his smartphone notepad to write down the titles in fear that Fripp’s security goons would confiscate it. People who dared to take iPhone photos during the performance either got ejected from their seats (depending on how drunk or dope infused belligerent they were) or were publicly embarrassed by wandering EG Record interns. You were only allowed to take photos of  the band. after the performance was finished. The band didn’t rely on fancy pyrotechnics, laser beam light shows, or projected movie screens with the exception of the performance of “Red” which was when the stage was bathed in crimson light.

I got a feeling that the reason Fripp was so lenient in the elastic stretch of covering nearly all eras of past King Crimson line ups was probably the need to see the catalogue preserved for future generations to come and give it a fresh perspective. Robert Fripp is pushing 71 (for some reason I thought he was in his mid-seventies), he’s not going to be around forever so younger members such as Gavin Harrison and Jakko Jakszyk can keep the momentum going. Already in a span of a year, we lost both founding member Greg Lake and mid-seventies master of stage ceremonies John Wetton. It seems King Crimson doesn’t have much luck in the longevity of bass players with the exception of Tony Levin, Wetton and Lake also join the bass player and vocalist Boz Burrell if 1971’s Islands in the tone death department. Of course, Boz was more fondly remembered as the bass player of Bad Company.

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Where I came in was when I was growing up in the New York era of the delicious hot platter trio servings of Discipline, Beat, & Three of a Perfect Pair – a rare era of a time I felt I belonged to a musical pulse not often shared or understood by fellow Parsippany High School underlings who couldn’t past an old Led Zeppelin album or the current 3 chord wonders of the latest AC/DC record. King Crimson was not exactly a household word on the West Coast – at least as far as Adrian Belew was concerned – he was mainly a guy who came and went on a few of Frank Zappa records Nope, Belew belonged to the East Coast vibe. Fellow New Yorkers and people such as me who would run to see him play mostly on those Hell Kitchen area Pier 23 nights only seem to get him. However,  Bill Bruford was the main draw that led me to this iteration of band after listening to that classic album trio of The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close to The Edge and followed his breadcrumb trail to another classic rock album of Lark’s Tongue in Aspic, Starless & Bible Black, and Red. So hearing his jazz rock roots flourish on his solo albums and his immersion into polyrhythms and electronic drums was the awakening of a new era for a hybrid reincarnated British prog/New York Alternative rock band. Knowing of Tony Levin through his work on numerous Peter Gabriel solo albums was the icing of the cake.

Those were great concerts out on the Pier shared drunkenly with the Zullo brothers were memories to be forever cherished with the outings with the boys. King Crimson is not a take a girl out to a concert band, because listening to King Crimson requires intense and direct attention paid to musicianship, plus despite Bruford’s shaking one booty’s to playing an electronic Simmons drum kit while standing with his back to the audience, there’s really nothing much for a chick to shake her ass to.

I could go on about how Steven Wilson’s phenomenal work with enhancing the first 10 King Crimson studio albums in 5.1 surround sound extravaganza mind-blowing experiences (including alternative mixes of entire track lists) and how Jakko has taken on the mantle with 1995’s THRAK with hopefully 2000.s ConstruKction of Light and 2003’s Power to Believe to follow – but I think perhaps I had that era covered in a past Steven Wilson entry, but I must be leaving to post this entry and to leave you with a review of my 2003’s Power to Believe Tour.

BUT if you reading this right now: King Crimson appears tomorrow for a special staccato stab filled spooky Halloween night performance at New Jersey Performing Arts Center, in downtown Newark NJ. Until then, I’ll see you in a matter of weeks.

Originally presented on http://www.dprp.net:

 

King Crimson
March 29th, 2003 – The Wiltern Theater, LA  California, USA
By Cary Coatney 

Rather than sitting home getting visually mauled by the pounding media coverage of Gulf War 2, I ventured outside into the real world to be sonically discharged by Trey Gunn’s fretless Warr guitar at King Crimson’s only Southern California appearance at the Los Angeles Wiltern Theatre. And all it took was a short hop and a skip via a bus and subway ride from the San Fernando Valley to be bathed in Fripptronic forgetfulness for approximately two hours. The band was on tour in support of their month-long newest release: The Power to Believe. The cover to the album lends itself to be construed as anti-war propaganda as it is adorned by two gas mask wearing soldiers positioned outside a hospital window while a nurse inside checks the vital signs of an infant sprawled out on an operating table as a regiment of troops marches outside. I’m sure it strictly wasn’t intentional on artist P.J. Cook’s part, nor the band’s decision to release the album two weeks before the madness of King George W II fully commenced, but nevertheless, its timing is strangely ominous.

Upon arriving at the majestic Wiltern, I go through the regular routine of picking out souvenir goodies such as t-shirts and program books that are offered at the usual extortionate prices. This year’s offering was an unexpected spin on the tour book trend, being that a small twenty page booklet chockful of Robert Fripp’s scintillating witticisms is accompanied with a CD chronicling excerpted interviews and press conferences (One reporter asks: Would you be willing to appear on the Howard Stern show? Fripp’s reply: I don’t think my buns are firm enough.) sprinkled with never before heard rarities from the Power to Believe sessions all neatly packaged in a DVD container all for the casual plundering of a hefty $40.00, just a little less than what I paid to get in the show.

After grabbing some wine from the bar, ushers were kindly waiting to escort me to my seat in the ‘K’ row (a bit ironic, isn’t it?), roughly thirteen rows from the orchestra pit so the seat wasn’t too shabby considering what I paid for the ticket. While being accompanied I couldn’t help notice that Robert Fripp was already on the stage setting off some ambient Roland Guitar synth-scudded soundscapes while all patrons were making themselves comfortable.

After Fripp sounded his last sustained note, there was a slight pause and then the rest of the members of the band joined on stage to launch into two opening numbers from 2000’s Construkction of Light album most notably that album’s opening track; Prozac Blues, which certainly felicitated the audience’s response.

Most of the selections this evening were culled from the last two releases, placing emphasis on the new Power to Believe release but a few gems from 1995’s Thrak managed to slip through the repertoire crack.

I couldn’t help but notice that Robert Fripp was constantly bathed in a luminous blue stagelight- I thought for a second that I made a wrong turn at the Las Vegas Luxor Hotel and was watching the Blue Man Group for the Geritol generation by mistake as Fripp hardly ever gets up from his stool when surrounded by rackmounted forts of electronic doodads.

What piqued my curiosity was Trey Gunn and this Warr guitar device that he is credited for playing. I found out on a website that the instrument was invented and named after a fireman out in California. It has 8 or 12 strings: mainly with 6 strings of the right hand part you play the melody and with the other 6 strings of the left hand part you play the bass line. When playing this instrument, you often use a tapping technique quite similar to what Tony Levin and others do with a Chapman stick. You can mute strings while playing with two hands, and muting pads or mittens are usually provided. You can add synthesizer effects and operate it on a battery pack through the control panels on the back of the body. You can do a lot of crazy stuff with the frets but hey, what do I know? I associate more with keyboard players anyway.

What really diverted my attention was Pat Mastelotto’s fluid drumming ( I mean, jeez what time signature does this guy operate on? ) especially in this evening’s rendition of Level Five during the crack of the cymbals section as he reached with his right hand to do these outrageous sneak attacks on toms, snares, and other electronic percussion doo hickeys. The other not too happy with what you have to be happy with diversion was these giant windsockets that suddenly inflated across the stage during One Time. Now, I don’t ever recall if the band signed any endorsement deals with Trojan or Lifestyles condoms or not, but there they were, foreboding and hovering menacingly throughout the remainder of the show.

And of course what is a King Crimson show without a few strict enforcement of rules? You can’t just get by without the no photography rule. I know that a friend of mine back in the land of Oz learned of this the hard way at a past King Crimson show that this is indeed a no laughing matter when he brought the show to a complete stop by snapping some personal glossies. But now in the twenty-first century, dear old Uncle Bobby has revised these rules with a new unconscionable twist: the no going to the bathroom during performance rule. If you’re feeling a little rush of the bladder floodgates coming on after a heavy consumption of Harp Lager, then my advice to you is to stand still and act like a dike. I, myself learned of this the hard way without seeing the signs posted on each aisle door telling everyone that there will be absolutely no flash cameras allowed and no ins or outs during a song’s performance. I felt a sudden need to use the restroom in the middle of Power to Believe II, so I wouldn’t be stuck in a long winding queue at the conclusion of the show. It winded up costing me the performance of my favorite track off the new album, Dangerous Curves. When the usher refused to open the door for me and some other patrons, the situation further exacerbated when Dangerous Curves segued into Lark’s Tongues in Aspic Part 4 as he still refused to open the door for us! We have to convince him that it was a new song they were starting, but I think it was a clever comment from another hardcore fan was the one that broke the ice; ‘Hey, I didn’t pay $60.00 just to sit out in the hall!’

Well, at least we got two encores for our inconvenience and it was at this point that the audience really began to cut loose after sitting adroitly for so long (there were a scattered few who sparked up and passed around their socks, telling by the aroma in the air, but unfortunately none of it made it my way) when they launched into Dinosaur. Even a male audience member stood up on his chair and loudly proclaimed his undying love for Robert Fripp that sort of got a chuckle from Adrian Belew. The second encore was one of my all time favorites of the title track from 1975’s Red.

In conclusion, I felt the musicianship was tighter than ever most than some bits and pieces registered highly on the ‘wow’ meter, but I had a sense that this elitist foray into what Fripp commonly refers to as ‘nuevo metal’ is too much pedestrian for my taste. To me, it somewhat alienates any connection to the older material something that Fripp obviously is content with. I realize that this is a different line up with a different background ( I mean, look, Pat Mastelotto ex-drummer of Mr. Mister? who would have thunk?) but with Belew still in activation, you would think Fripp would dug a few pieces out of the 81-84 trio of albums to at least satisfy some diehards. (harking back to my high school days) I remember hearing that Belew and Fripp were considering reviving Easy Money for an encore on this tour, but I guess it didn’t come to fruition.

 

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Worming Your Way Into Kicking Some Serious Arrakis In Just Six Easy Novel Steps

17 Oct

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It’s a blog about Dune, in case all of you couldn’t figure it out.

Once upon a time, it was a science fiction novel I took out of the Lake Hiawatha Library back when I was in sixth grade that was written by Frank Herbert in 1965. This grand novel, considered at the time of its’ initial release took place on the desert planet of Arrakis and dealt with such complex themes such as religion, ecology, politics, and evolution before you become sandworm food that dwell beneath the planet.. I re-read this novel and its’ two following sequels, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune in my junior year of high school and wrote a book report on it that garnered me a very impressive A in my English class. However, I lost interest in the whole shit and kaboodle after the release of God Emperor of Dune in the summer of 1981. Tried reading Heretics of Dune after I moved to San Diego but it ended up being thrown in the trash. Once I mistook the release of Chapterhouse Dune as a roll of Charmin Bath tissue and that ended in my pile of ‘read and wipe’ as a companion reading to all the Jehovah Witness paraphernalia that used to be strewn across the lawn of my old place in Cardiff by the Sea, out in Northern San Diego County.

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On the same bathroom token, It was also a box office bomb during the holiday season of 1984, but yet I ending up seeing it two times in one day at a Loew’s Theater off on Times Square in New York as a way of saying ‘fuck you’ to critic Rex Reed. I believe “Dune” was the very last movie I saw before saying goodbye to New Jersey forever on a cross country bus trek across the US to California.

Despite my cockamamie impetuous definition of what I considered what was or what wasn’t in good taste, at least pertaining to this movie, of what was to be my first exposure to David Lynch (it took me a while to warm up to The Elephant Man, since I initially had no interest in seeing ‘art films’ while in high school) made me a lifelong fan of his work, especially Twin Peaks and was perhaps one of my main influences in the creation of my own comic book character, The Deposit Man.

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The movie also provided prominent career boosts to actors such as Kyle MacLachlin as lead pending messiah and freedom fighter Paul Atreides or “Maud ‘dib” if you prefer, Future Starship Enterprise and top mutant professor Patrick Stewart as Garney Hallack, Virginia Madsen as the Princess, and a very young Alicia Witt as Paul’s sister, Alia.

Sean Young’s career in her portrayal as Muad ‘dib’s gal pal and future wife, Chani? Not so much.

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I still have my copy of the comic book movie adaptation that Marvel Comics put out to promote the movie.

In this day and age of my fifty plus years, Sting’s performance as the Feyd Rathua, evil cousin underling to the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Kenneth McMillan RIP- who I ran into at my first post trip to Los Angeles at Union Station since I moved to San Diego) dancing his ballet death song like a preening carnation flower is still what flashes through my mind whenever I eat Gouda cheese mixed in with my scrambled eggs and then taking a walk out into the cool crisp autumn air, only to make it to a couple of blocks and start heaving it all back out via a throat full of phlegm onto the cracked sidewalks and streets of the San Fernando Valley.

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Sy fy once revived the novel as a mini-series that proved to be more faithful to the book source, but with embellishments and cheap looking Sergio Leone looking Italian soundstages and green screens were still no help – and to even put even further desert heat to the fire – It was produced by The Hallmark Channel of all cheap budget lowly people. And the combination mini-series mishmash adaptation of Dune Messiah and Children of Dune were just plain forgettable with the exception of William Hurt’s turn at bat at playing the role the Duke Leto Atreides. Although the rights were required by Sy fy to adapt all of Herbert’s six novels, the last three novel were thankfully not adapted for television,

Recently I was in a Barnes and Nobles and I happened to see a marked half down blu ray edition of Lynch’s Dune, but another item alongside it moreso caught my mélange specked eye –

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A documentary on the making of the aborted 1975 Dune movie that supposedly was to be directed by Chilean born French director Alejandro Jodorowsky before the project proved to be too costly and life threatening to film. Dino de Laurenttiis later came swooping in like a vulture and snatched the rights as if they were discarded carrion that  became the regurgitated mess that was released in time for Christmas of 1984. Jodorowsky’s version was signing up stars such as Mick Jagger, Udo Kier, Orson Wells, David Carradine, Gloria Swanson and Salvador Dali (at the salary of $100,000.00 per minute!) with Alejandro’s son Brontis in the leading role of Paul Atreides. The soundtrack was to be recorded by two bands to be determined as the side of good or evil: Pink Floyd, representing the House of Atreides and French proggers, Magma representing the House of Harkonnen.

Jodorowsky’s reputation carried a lot of clout – not only was he a fabled director and general practitioner of cinema verite (although sex with female midgets while on their periods was a little difficult for me to stomach in his latest autobiographical study of Endless Poetry ) and actor, but he is the absolute genesis behind the science fiction graphic novel series, The Incal (now available through Humanoids who my good friend Jud Meyer works in the position of Director of Marketing) and is one of the creators of Metal Hurlant – which translated in American is commonly referred to as Heavy Metal Magazine.

Unfortunately someone snagged it up from the rack that saddled next to the marked down Dune blu ray – but I shall resume the hunt for it at some point.

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A few weeks ago, I happen to catch a screening of Blade Runner 2049 directed by Denis Villeneuve who is also French. His previous credits include last year’s complex Arrival and the drug running poetic drama Sicario. Ridley Scott, producer of the sequel made the right choice for Villeneuve to direct this mesmerizing sequel of gasp in wonderment of thought provoking futurist science fiction thriller with a breathtaking twist. I was told by a fellow co-worker before the screen grew dark that Villeneuve is the contender in developing a new series of Dune movies.

And when the lights came up and the praise came rushing to my body in determining that Blade Runner 2049 could be one of the movies this year to lead the charge to the 2018 Academy Awards,  I immediately came to the conclusion and ease within myself : if there is anyone out there who could bring justice to the original Frank Herbert novels – IT’S DEFINITELY THIS FUCKING GUY.

There will always be more ground to cover when it comes to the planet Arrakis and the call of the spice (and hey, is that the B-52’sYour Own Private Duncan Idaho” I hear you playing in the background?)- but for now, we must take our leave – BUT as a bonus surprise I found in the great Cary W. Coatney Conservatory Library – the original document of my ELEVENTH GRADE BOOK REPORT for English class on the book Dune. It’s been translated from Coatneyspeak for you to reflect these great modern times below. Here are pics of the actual pages.

 

Dune

By

Frank Herbert

   Dune is a another name for the desert planet Arrakis occupied by the nomadic tribe called the Freemen who worship water as a God and roam the deserts in Stillsuits which recycles body moisture. Dune is also where huge sandworms roam and produce the planet’s only natural resource called ‘melange’. This product mainly is used as a drug for long life and some of it is used to see into the future.

   Mainly the book focuses on its’ central character Paul Atreides who is the son of the late Duke Leto Atreides who is killed by his rival the Harkonnens and the CHOAM companies who run the majority of the spice (mélange) factories. The Duke happened to be the ruler of the planet Arrakis. After war broke out, Paul was forced to flee into the desert with his pregnant mother, the Lady Jessica. She was a member of the organization of religious priestess called the Bene Gesserit which was related to the study of mental arts and mind control. Paul himself had received some of his mother’s training and became the the highest rank in producing himself to be the Kwisatz Haderach, the Messiah of the Future.

   Paul made his way into the desert to become a member of the Freman Tribe where he learns to ride sandworms and assimilate to their culture. He is nicknamed “Muad Dib”, meaning a kangaroo mouse in the desert. This pledge gives Paul time to think of a strategy against the Harkonnen nobels and their Emperor Imperial. Paul also takes part in a ritual in which he takes a massive dose of drugs which enables him to foresee the full vision of the future as well as Alia, his new born sister who knows everything about her mother while she was in her womb.

   In time Paul becomes leader of the Fremen Tribe side by side with his comrades Stilgar and Chani who later bores Paul’s first son. Paul gave his fellow tribesmen a mission of mercy: seize his palace back and the city of Anakeen from the grip of Harkonnens and rule this planet from a throne. But Paul has a need for a mission for himself: to change the climate of this planet and bring water to the land with his renown powers.

   Reunited with an old friend thought dead, Gurney Hallock joins forces with Paul and his own army. They make their onslaught against the Harkonnens and their Emperor. During the battle, Alia is captured and Paul’s infant son is slain. Paul imposes a treaty, knowing he is the rightful heir to be the Duke and the city of Anakeen is turned into a power base of a star empire and later sends the Emperor to a prison planet while he marries his daughter, the Princess Iralan, but keeps her as a consort, so he can still be loyal to Chani.

   I think this book is one of the best written in this century because mixing religion, politics, ecology with science fiction is a rare and creative subject to deal with. I like stories with struggles for power, usurping thrones, long epics, etc; (Jeez I wonder why I’m not even reading any of the Game of Thrones books these days?), but mostly I like the ways that the characters are handled in the book. You can imagine movie actors playing their parts and Paul is a unique character to identify with. I reread this book because I heard it was going to be made into a movie. If it is, it should be one of the best movies ever made. Of course, with a big budget you many never know, it could also turn out to be a big flop.

Cary Coatney – April 5, 1981.

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” MUAD’ DIB!!”