Friday, May 9, 2008

America, Do You Remember?

James Blood Ulmer - Live in Warsaw, Poland (6-19-98) Part 1
James Blood Ulmer - Live in Warsaw, Poland (6-19-98) Part 2

I think I mentioned in a long-ago post a compilation tape my oldest brother made for me one Christmas, a hodgepodge of "crap" he thought I'd like, as I had no discernible taste in his eyes. Best present ever.

Side two opened my eyes, ears and heart to the wonder of the electric guitar. Mixed up with The Stooges and The Nomads was no other thing I'd ever heard. It was an alien broadcast, maybe, from another star or maybe another dimension, raw bass and drums and skittering, jumping, unsettling bursts of guitar notes, all distorted and low and dirty and sexy, sexy, sexy.

Who was that guitarist? Wow, that couldn't be true, could it? James "Blood" Ulmer? But it was, it was. Grubbing around in a cut-out bin a year later I finally found a cassette copy of the album that song was from - Freelancing. I was afraid to play it, afraid that that one song, the title track, would be the only good song on the album, but I needn't have been afraid. Freelancing is simply one of the greatest guitar albums ever made, in rock/jazz/blues/funk - whatever the genre you want to stuff it into. Doesn't matter because it transcends them all. And it's influence is unknowable.

I wish this was an 80s show to share with you, closer to the gnarly jazz-rock-funk of that time, but this is a great gig nonetheless. You get to hear a bit of Ulmer's bluesier recent work here, too, which is total ear-candy. Bucky Pope, guitarist for the Tar Babies, once told me that Ulmer and Ornette were the two greatest influences on his playing. I believe him, too. You can still find some Tar Babies over at my old site and one of these days I'm gonna put up a live show or two here.

Until then, you know the routine, buy shit!

1 comment:

Mona said...

Just recently discovered yr wonderful blog, got a heap of the Julian Cope stuff from you. I have in storage a great mixing desk tape of BLOOD from London at the time of 'Are you glad to be'. It was given to me by someone @ Rough Trade and when I get it together I will post it. Have added yr blog at mine.