Tuesday, April 10, 2007

GUITAR ROCK TUESDAY NIGHT: George Brigman's 'Rags in Skull'

Tonight the evening news ended with a segment on the economic calamity of downloaded pop music. The messages: People steal more music in one or two months than iTunes has sold since its inception. And a Bruce Springsteen hit is pirated and illegally downloaded 137,000 times a day.

These features always make me feel like a fool for actually buying rock 'n' roll music and continuing to write about it.

While the facts are accurate, the stories are intelligence-insulting for what they don't point out.

No one, for example, is stealing the independently made CDs I regularly listen to.

Why? Because I have uniquely poor taste?

Or is it bcause it's not popular with an audience driven by mainstream desire.

Obscurity is something of an immunizer, although not entirely so, to the digital download blues. No six-figure masses want to steal George Brigman's Rags in Skull, even if it's a wonderful record of complex and perfectly crafted hard rock. They want to steal the Bruce Springsteen song that's played ad nauseum everyday on classic rock radio since it was first published in the 1980s.

The merciless stupidity of it is astonishing.

If someone steals from George Brigman, it's the old-fashioned kind of bootlegger, someone in Europe who duplicates his old records illegally, presses them into vinyl and CDs, distributing them in stores where they bite into the sales of the real thing. Fans often don't know they're buying knock-offs.

Second, you never see any news stories about people who still buy music.

Why not? The message is between the lines, that's why. We're too stupid to live, so grow old and die already.

I have no interest in young people who get their music on-line free or enabling networks that have an audience because the best thing they can do is furnish a pushbutton conduit to copyright infringement. It's a less interesting group than the colony of ants going about its business between the cracks in the driveway.

Few things are more deadening than seeing the infinite lists of digital content downloaded everyday, stolen or not, worth solely determined by the numbers in on-line tickers.

"Hey, if I like the song I buy the CD," says yet another spotty kid, self-servingly recorded for the thousandth-and-then-some time, by a TV camera or newspaper features writer.

As for the George Brigman's of the world, they'll still make good music whether the record industry ceases to exist or not.

You see, it was a happy occasion when local rocker George Brigman's '70s vinyl catalog was finally brought into the digital age last year. However, Bona Fide Records -- Brigman's decades-long sponsor -- promised more by him. And it has arrived in the form of Rags in Skull, Brigman's first new work in a quarter century, a love of heavy guitar having kept his spirit as well as his fingers young and supple despite the passage of time.

The rest of the old-fashioned review is here.

Also, see comment on NYC's She-Wolves: Bludgeoning Riffola, Suitable for When [Unprintable] -- at the Village Voice.

The She-Wolves are led by a former member of the Cycle Sluts from Hell, reviewed way long ago by DD at the Morning Call newspaper. (See reprint.)

The Cycle Sluts CD was almost instantaneously deleted by Sony upon arrival in 1991.

I dragged out my copy after giving the She-Wolves repeat listens and discovered I still liked the Cycle Slut CD quite a bit, although this -- perhaps -- does not come across entirely in the original. The songs "Speed Queen," with the lyric "Baby if you want to use my washing machine, first you gotta buy the detergent!" -- and "I Wish You Were a Beer," the latter with the chorus command of "Shut up!" -- haven't aged a bit.

The cover of the CD was an unfortunate choice. Designed by someone at the label inordinantly fond of softcore gay porn and determined to demonstrate it at the expense of the group, it tromped right over the thin line between exotic looks as dangerous rock for ridiculous camp imagery completely different from what was inside.


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