Thursday, September 27, 2012

Earth, Wind & Fire

The funk/soul overstock section in my old store was full of Earth, Wind & Fire records. My record collection was missing them. Nature abhors a vacuum: now I have a lot of Earth, Wind & Fire records. The earlier ones were a little harder to get, but once I had the rest of the catalog, I couldn't not pick them up when I saw them.

(The older ones reward the effort, if you prefer funk to cheeze. I mean, duh. The wisdom of crowds somehow always leads to soprano sax solos. Why is that?)

Now, listening to the EWF records, that's a bit more of a commitment than acquiring them. Free records aren't free, if you follow me. Doing justice to a record means listening to it. Listening can cost. But I'm committed to the ones that made it under my roof. Sooner or later, they'll all get played. Hence the FPE, which occasionally makes me listen to records that I'm not trying to hear. What happened is that Frances chose four Earth, Wind & Fire albums (including one double LP!) for me, and I had to play them. Specifically, their "soaring in the Seventies" period: 1974's commercial breakthrough Open Our Eyes, 1975's masterpiece That's the Way of the World, the double (mostly) live set Gratitude from the same year, and the smooth, hot, confident first real disco flirtation they did, Spirit from 1976. Now many hours have been spent, and I can report: this band is exactly as corny, and as awesome, as you thought they were. You're welcome!

When they're good, there is NO STOPPING the smooth, funky hits. Even if you don't think you know them, you know them. Trust me. Just go on youtube. Listening to Earth, Wind & Fire sides makes you say "Oh - they did THAT one? Damn" like every three songs. "Shining Star". "Getaway". Killer jams. I am totally leaning to the side and clapping to "That's the Way of the World". (You thought it was called "Hearts of Fire" when you heard it in the Retail Establishment, but it's actually "That's the Way of the World".)

And, "Reasons". Mm, mm, mm.

Other useful information (an "Earth, Wind & Fire Soaring in the Seventies Primer"):

  • "Sun Goddess" on Gratitude is pretty cool. They did it with some jazz flutist on one of his albums but this version jams out harder cause it's not by a smooth jazz flutist.
  • They have a theme song! "Earth, Wind & Fire" sums it all up:

    Born of the Earth, are Nature's children
    Fed by the Wind, the breath of life
    Judged by the Fiery hand of God
  • Open Our Eyes is totally sweet! The funk is driving and the cheeze sits in back. The kalimba is way up in the mix: it drives the instrumental "Drum Song" and it's the central idea of "Kalimba Story". I submit that the awesomeness of a given Earth, Wind & Fire album is directly proportional to how audible the kalimba is.
  • "Spasmodic Mood" is a hot, polite jazz-funk number with a soprano sax just going the fuck off y'all. Seriously, Open Our Eyes is the one.
  • The kalimba gets buried in the mix as the disco cheeze gets in the driver's seat. BUT THERE IS NO BURYING PHILIP BAILEY'S SOARING FALSETTO. Stop shaking your head.
  • The Earth Wind and Fire Company Limited will take you ballooning in Thailand, and they also make all kinds of crazy military and chemical shit. That's a link worth clicking.

Then, this. Clench your fists and rage as you ingest upon it:

Watch for the signs that lead in the right direction
Not to heed them is a bad reflection
They'll show you the way into what you've been seeking
To ignore them, you're only cheating

EWF. Relentless positivity in response to the world. These dudes were on a mission to bring light to the world. Light through hot disco-funk jams. And hot jazz-funk jams.

Look out the window. Lift your head to the sky!

Getaway. Just leave today. Let's get away.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Soft Pink Truth

"I wish I was a lady" queasily closes "Gender Studies", side one, track two. It's an EP, two songs per side. It's artificial intelligence taught to write. People don't bite.

Do you mind if I...

I gotchu.

Seeking truth. Do u find it when some guy says it's soft and pink? What's soft and pink? Is it true?

It's about what you should be doing right now. You hear, that is the truth. Is hearing doing, coming down the stairs. You transmit these into the world. Vary the clarity.

So much of reality is gray and oozy. Other parts are crisp and green, still others blotchy and red. There's the cool water that refreshes, the cold slap that awakens, the hard steel that resists compromise. The hot fire. The hot fusion. The hot sex. The dreams of a better tomorrow. The needless waste. The time spent on bullshit. The innocent smiles. Laughter, disappointment, euphoria, sweat, hair, politics. Soft pink truth? PromoFunk.

Beautiful, bell-shaped electric piano tones. Synth bass. Glitches. Everybody's soft. Machines are hard. Soft pink truth. Mind. Body. The union of a man and a woman. The union of labor. Pipefitters. Auto workers. Steel. The union makes us strong. Teachers strike. Strike of choice.

Our children.

Face mascara. I wanna look good for you. Comb hair. I don't care, I always comb my hair. Make. Up. Make. Up. Make. Up. If I wear a dress, he will never call, so I'll wear much less.

The end of men. But not really though, kid. Still 77 cents on the dollar. Still violated. Still gazed upon. Still unminded. Soft, pink, truth.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Superior Catholic Finger

Ye shall not need to fight in this battle. Set yourselves. Stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you. O Judah and Jerusalem, fear not. Don't be dismayed. Tomorrow, go out against them, for the lord will be with you.

Superior Catholic Finger is the second Helios Creed album.

It starts with the sample above, yelled by a fiery Southern-sounding preacher, then the mind-melting commences. Helios phase-fucks his guitar sounds to brain-poke you, octave-modulates or otherwise distorto-bombs his voice and buries it low, turns the bad vibes up to twelve and lets it loose. The typical M.O. is heavy metal-punk riff-based compositions with murk and murk and murk. Then there's the occasional guitar solo. You know that scene in T2 where the evil liquid-metal terminator sticks his stab-hand through the lady's head while she's drinking milk and the carton is impaled on it? And the milk is dripping down? That's what Helios Creed's guitar solos sound like. I mean, that's kind of like what Helios Creed's whole recorded output is like.

I had a dream where I was talking to Jesus on the cross. He invited me to come all the way.

I think pretty much everything Jesus says is dead on. I mean there's no way a reasonable person could disagree with it, you know? Why is there so much fucking hate? Don't judge. Try to help. Make your presence in this world a blessing to those who share it with you. Don't worry about other people being assholes, just focus on not being an asshole yourself. Stuff like that.

In the dream, I asked Jesus, "What about all the women stuff?" He didn't answer me. I suppose it's not His job to answer me. He said everything already, I need to find the answers myself. But it's troubling, this chauvinist religion created by men for men, that oppresses half the humans.

Christianity. Catholic. Doctrine. Teaching. Wisdom. I think there aren't answers and I think anyone who tries to tell you they know the answer, to any question really (say, "what time is it?"), is full of "it". And the more certain they are, the more of "it" they are certainly shoveling.

(That goes for you too, Science. And you too, Atheists. You don't know shit, not a single thing. Your hate and intolerance isn't any better than the Evangelicals'. People just love to point fingers at other people. Superior Finger.)

Jesus doesn't tell you to hate, or fight. Jesus does tell you to resist. Jesus does tell you the poor are worth more than the rich. Poor people. What do they do? What do they like? Are you poor? Are you the lowest of the low?

Catholic. "Catholic taste" means you like everything. "I believe in the holy catholic church" has a small "c", and the Protestants say it in the same Apostle's Creed that the Catholics use, and it means the all-encompassing church. Everyone. All. Superior everyone. All finger.

We've been hearing more about the Catholic cleavage these days. "Social justice" Catholics vs. "family values" Catholics. Or as I often think of them, "nice" Catholics and "mean" Catholics. That's just what I think though. I'm not "correct". My value is for myself and my family. Catholic Finger.

Catholic. Did you forget that the Irish and the Italians were low-class, oppressed immigrants? That White power in America was Protestant, because our Founding Fathers built their shining city on a hill in opposition to Catholic doctrine. America was all, "fuck the man!" and became the Man. Revolution never makes things better. Superior Catholic. Now it's 2012 and the White people in the Supreme Court are Catholic and the White people running for president or vice president are all either Catholic or Mormon. The Speaker of the House is Catholic. The "Minority Leader" is Mormon. Mormon! Revolution. Superior Catholic.

Helios isn't trying to answer any questions here, at least I don't think he is. He's pretty inscrutable. I like that about Helios and his music. That and the phase-fucking and the heavy-ass riffs. One day someone will ask a question. Helios has provided this answer:

On a trigger or around your throat
Holding a pencil or making a vote
Rubbing industrial fumes from his eyes
From the grave the resurrected fly
The superior Catholic finger