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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Freedom of speech now endangered for every musician

"Amid the ongoing fallout from the violence that saw a civil rights activist killed, music subscription service Spotify began removing so-called white power music, flagged by the SPLC as racist 'hate bands.' 

"A Spotify spokesperson said: 'Illegal content or material that favours hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like, is not tolerated by us. Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention. 

"We are glad to have been alerted to this content -- and have already removed many of the bands identified, while urgently reviewing the remainder." ("Apple denounces neo-Nazis as Spotify bans 'white power' tracks," Guardian 8/17/2017)

This should be of concern to anyone who would write, play, and sell music without first considering the authoritarian prejudices of ideological overlords. 

It should go without saying that 'white power' music (or anything at all complementary) is both morally repugnant and inherently hostile to the American, Constitutional equality ideal we commonly cherish. 

Also, as private company, Spotify can set any participatory standards it chooses. 

But the notion of suppressing articulation based on subjective assumptions of propriety is also contrary to traditional Constitutional guarantees. A censor's red pencil can deny liberty even more effectively than an obscure Charlottesville lackwit with poison fancies and substandard grooming habits.

As witnessed with the 1980s LP-labeling craze, the movie rating system, and the comics code of the 1950s, private industry makes content decisions based on market calculations, not on high-minded, individual liberty priorities. And those dollar-conscious reckonings soon become the orthodoxy. Art is impacted.

Once a measure for speech's 'legitimacy' has been adopted, all expression is threatened. And, whether noxious sloganeering or satirical, under-the-table advocacy of sensibleness (remember Randy Newman's "Short People?"), any lyric containing officially proscribed verbiage would be automatically tossed away.

Rock and Roll itself evolved in wonderful defiance of racial mores. 

The ability to consider ideas -- positive and productive ones, as well as their negative, destructive counterparts -- is crucial to intellectual development. By hearing contrasting perspectives, and judging them side by side, listeners are able to arrive at sufficiently thought-out and dependable conclusions.

(I'm not talking about Chaplinsky's "Fighting words" standard, nor of "clear and present danger" yelling 'fire!' in some packed theater, or the health hazards demonstrable in unlabeled, improper product ingredients. Ideas can be either accepted or rejected; physical poisons have but one logical end.)

Given contemporary mania for toppling statues, ripping down plaques, renaming streets, and other ill-considered efforts at historical revisionism, do not be surprised when, in coming times, rockabilly bands 'disappear' the Confederate Stars and Bars and other southern iconography from presentations.

Such reinvention, though, may not be entirely of musicians' conception. Owners of performance venues, record labels, and radio stations, not illogically apprehensive about adverse publicity and feel-good boycott campaigns, may soon present bands with a choice: Conform or die. Accommodate ideological fascism or be denied the ability to earn a living at your chosen profession.

That used to be called McCarthyism. Today, Spotify hails it as social justice.



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Poor Fellas
Streets of Desolation (self)

Whether hot rod-percolating across broken twilit tarmac, blasting star-ward in atomic rocketship coolness, or following frantically twangin', pounded bop to whatever fractured psychological plane it might scale, the reward lies always in the daring journey. And once you've been, you'll never seek return.

Recommended: "Dream Killer," "On My Feet," "Goodbye," "Feeling Blue," "Hot Rod Ride"

Video "Dream Killer"

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bruce Mississippi Johnson
The Deal Baby (self)

This unvarnished humanity-interpreted-as-blues/soul-orating rises up with bold self-awareness. And strapping satisfaction. It knows its origin, digs itself, and compels headbobbing, slap-grinning listeners to reciprocal earthy communion.

And that would already be enough. But here, it's just the solidly reverential bedrock. Reaching high from it is an ambitious contemporary voice that grabs for a corporeal spirituality of uniquely amphetamine ambitiousness that declares, moves out, and impacts with a wonderfully jarring precision birthed in timeless definitude.

Guitars step out, stylin'. Keys roam with aplomb. The essential beat centers us all. And Bruce's world-grained narratives hold to life.

You could ask for other. But you'd be a damned fool.

Recommended "No Good," "The Neighbor Next Door," "That's the Deal Baby," "I Can't Shake the Blues," "See You Tomorrow," "You Been Workin' Mojo," "I'll Bleed"

Video "No Good"

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


"My favorite chapters in this book are the ones on Bettie Page and the one on the author's late brother Rick, a guitarist and all-around roots musician in their native Iowa and surrounding region nearly all of his life

"...One thing crystal clear is that DC Larson is one of us: he has a passion for the music that we love, and doesn't have tunnel vision about it -- he loves a wide variety of America Roots Music, and the culture that surrounds it. He's written about a spectrum of artists from Elvis, Paul Burlison, and Ray Campi to Dale Watson and Wayne Hancock, and rockabillies like Robert Gordon, Chris Spedding, Hillbilly Casino, Nick Curran, and Jinx Jones.

"His final essay, 'Rock'n'Roll Will Stand,' is something on which we can all agree, but his own perspective and research fleshes out the idea with some interesting anti-Rock'n'Roll quotes you may or may not have encountered before."
- Marc Bristol / Blue Suede News, issue 112 (summer 2017)

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Linecutters
Anthill (Slope)

Crams fresh humanity, including all of the sparks-schizzing, burgeoning actualization it neither knows how to / cares to domesticate, into hurtling chords of joy-fury. Bursts loudly in all directions and at speeds awe-striking. Youth thrives athrash, in peculiar storms.

Recommended "Anxiety," "Mademoiselle," "On Parade," "Never Doubt," "Don't Do It," "Betrayed," "Jett Fuel," "Leafy Greens"

Video "Anxiety"

Visionland (Birmingham / Nashville)

Insistence cannot be denied. It's an impulsion with animation its single ambition. And, when filtered through instruments by judicious interpreters, it can sound pretty damn cool. 

To listen is to tumble through a kaleidoscopic swirl of ambitious musings, intellectual darings, and tipsy passages rooted in before-days and grasping enthusiastically for unknowable delights yet to loom.

Recommended "Fine Fine Day," "Thick N' Thin," "Strange Heart,' "Fun All Night"

Video "Fine Fine Day"

Monday, March 20, 2017

s/t (Killjoy)

The black and white patrol cruiser sped down twilit dirt roads, its rooftop-cherry strobing and siren blaring. Frantic townspeople had besieged the station-house desk sergeant's phone with confused cries that a bizarre saucer had crash-landed behind the old hills just outside town.

Officer Jamie swung the car to a halt. "Come on," he growled. "We'll sneak in on 'em! Get the drop!"

Kelton, nervous, followed. His revolver-hand trembled. "I don't know why I always have to get these monster details!"

As the uniformed pair crept to the hill's top, weird music grew louder. They peered down and gasped with shock. Horror.

A strange rock'n'roll party unlike any before witnessed by mortal eyes was in full, lunatic swing. Creatures jumped and whirled in mad, macabre hyper-dances to an old-school psychobilly beat both magnetic and unaturally menacing. 

The perpetrators of that crazed bop-racket that had come from outer-space to assault earthly normalcy -- three wild-eyed apostles of cosmic oddness. They leaned into their strange assault, seemingly bent on turning the whole dimension on its head and making it love the violation.

On the hilltop, Kelton pushed back his policeman's hat. "What do you figure we should do?"

"My plan?" Jamie whispered in response. He scowled, eyes squinted. "Go back to the station house, tell 'em we saw nothing. Just some prank calls!" 

Kelton gulped. "I'm with you!"

Recommended "Invasion of the Radarmen." "Cosmic Kidnapping"

Video "Invasion of the Radarmen"