Author Archive

Derek Trucks Goes Behind the Allman Brothers’ Beacon Box Set

February 18th, 2010
Photo: Weiss/Getty On March 11th, the Allman Brothers Band open their annual spring residency in New York City, moving uptown from their traditional haunt, the Beacon Theatre — currently held hostage by a new Cirque de Soleil production — for 13 shows at Harlem’s United Palace Theater. That leaves you plenty of time to relive every note of last year’s 15 Beacon concerts, which have been released in a deluxe box set of 45 CDs ...

Fricke’s Picks: Haiti’s Soul

February 17th, 2010
Tried by poverty and violence long before the January 12th earthquake, Haiti is also a land of resilient-soul music. Vibrant merengue, carnival songs, vodou chants and the haunted-angel songs of a peasant girl, Francilia — Alan Lomax recorded it all and more, in the field in 1936-37. The recent and gorgeously annotated 10-CD box Alan Lomax in Haiti (Harte) is now a potent reminder of Haiti’s embattled spirit and folk art. Order at, and ...

Plastic Ono Band Return With Eric Clapton, Paul Simon in Brooklyn

February 17th, 2010
Photo: Mazur / Wireimage Just before the final song of Yoko Ono’s first performance in four decades with founding members of the Plastic Ono Band, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on February 16th, her son Sean told a short story: At soundcheck that day, Sean remarked to guitarist Eric Clapton that he had never played slide guitar before and wanted to know how Eric and Sean’s father, John, played slide on the early, chaotic Plastic ...

Fricke’s Picks: Lost Love Returns

December 8th, 2009
The long wilderness years of Arthur Lee, the mercurial singer-songwriter-commander of the Los Angeles band Love, began with an abandoned 1971 LP for Columbia, now resurrected on Love Lost (Sundazed). By then, Lee was four years and several Love lineups away from the dark orchestral magic of 1967’s Forever Changes. The full-band tracks here are heavy serrated-guitar rock (this is the Love I saw at a late-1970 Fillmore East show), and Lee’s writing is aggressively ...

Fricke’s Picks: A Blues Wake

December 7th, 2009
In August, three days after the death of producer Jim Dickinson at age 67, his son Luther, guitarist in the Black Crowes and the North Mississippi Allstars, organized the ideal wake: Onward and Upward (Memphis International), an acoustic session with Jim’s friends and cohorts, including Sid Selvidge and Jimmy Crosthwait, singing and picking blues and gospel chestnuts as Luther Dickinson and the Sons of Mudboy (a reference to Jim’s notorious band Mudboy and the Neutrons). ...

Fricke’s Picks: Harvey Scales’ Funk

December 4th, 2009
Two of my favorite supersoul tracks of 1967 came on the same single by Wisconsin’s Harvey Scales and the Seven Sounds: “Get Down,” a high-speed-James Brown blast that got to Number 79 on Billboard, and its hot-ardor flip, “Love-Itis,” later covered by the J. Geils Band. New collection Love-Itis (Soul-Tay-Shus) has ‘em both with a dance party’s worth of obscure pulverizing follow-ups, including “Broadway Freeze,” “Trackdown,” “The Yolk” and the improbably wicked “Funky Football.”

Fricke’s Picks: Blues from India

November 25th, 2009
Gary Lucas is a modern guitar miracle, an alchemical soloist with monster technique and a rare collaborative touch. He is especially good with master voices; his work with Captain Beefheart and the late Jeff Buckley is a master lesson in aggressive invention and supportive electricity. That empathy is half the pleasure of Lucas’ Indo-blues venture, Rishte (World Village), with British-born Indian vocalist Najma Akhtar. The other half is the sharp, soaring way she threads his ...

Fricke’s Picks: O’Rourke’s Long Song

November 24th, 2009
Guitarist-composer and avant-rock provocateur Jim O’Rourke is notorious for his collaborations with Faust, drone pioneer Tony Conrad and the late guitarist John Fahey, and infamous in the mainstream for his noise-and-pathos mix of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. But O’Rourke’s new truly solo album — he played, produced and engineered every note — is one long confession of his true rapture for melody and instrumental detail. The Visitor (Drag City) is a continuous 38-minute piece that ...

Big Star Rock “#1 Record,” “Radio City” Classics at Rare NYC Gig

November 19th, 2009
Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty The golden-pop aura that New Yorkers saw hovering in the night sky on November 18th was from a rare local landing, at Brooklyn Masonic Temple, of the Memphis Beatles, Big Star: singer-guitarist Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens with their reunion associates since 1993, guitarist Jon Auer and bassist Ken Stringfellow of the Posies. You can still count on one hand Big Star’s New York visits since 1974, when Chilton and Stephens ...

Fricke’s Picks: The Icelandic Beck

October 28th, 2009
Sin Fang Bous is one guy from Iceland, Sindri Már Sigfússon, who makes the seductive small-combo pop on Clangour (Morr Music). The close-up vocals, austere overdubs and beach-angel harmonies suggest Beck’s Sea Change with laptops and a light coat of frost. Sigfússon tours here in October and November, so you can see how he does it live.