Terrible-sounding bootlegs of the Flying Burrito Brothers' shows have circulated for years. So despite the classic lineup - Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Chris Ethridge and Mike Clarke - I was a bit leery of Amoeba's new two-CD Fontana-distributed release of Live At The Avalon Ballroom 1969.
I'm thrilled to report that the two shows (April 4 and 6, 1969) documented by Grateful Dead sound engineer Owsley "Bear" Stanley on this first volume in the Archives series are remarkably crisp and clear, like you've never heard in concert before. Wow! Maybe best of all, Parsons sounds atypically sober during both amazing performances. Double wow!
As if two stellar shows weren't enough, there are two bonus tracks, one being Parsons's piano-vocal demo of Thousand Dollar Wedding and an odd 1967 cover of the Everly Brothers' When Will I Be Loved. Yeah, you need it. www.amoebarecords.com.
Producer/selector DJ Format, the UK's oldest b-boy, is an opportunistic digger. It makes no difference whether it's Hungarian prog or Belgian disco - if there are dope beats involved, Format's all over it.
Among his junk shop discoveries have been some intriguing religious records from the 60s and 70s that most sample scroungers would overlook. It's their loss, as Format and his sidekick, Mr. Thing, demonstrate on the fabulously funky Holy Shit mix of ignored indie gospel gems. If you can take all the Hallelujah-shouting and Jesus-praising, you'll discover loads here to nod your head at. Format fans should check out his exclusive mix at www.paintshopstudio.com.
When Marianne Faithfull pried herself from the clutches of Andrew Loog Oldham, the Stones main man decided to fill the "girl singer" opening in his stable with Vashti Bunyan, a college pal of future Monty Python greats Michael Palin and Terry Jones. Sadly, Bunyan's bittersweet anti-love songs, backed by Oldham's elaborate orchestrations, didn't trouble the charts back in 1965-66. But today Bunyan's forlorn vocals set to tympani and glockenspiel sound strangely contemporary, as you can hear on the reasonably priced two-disc comp Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind (Dicristina) that collects her singles and demos.
Those, like Devendra Banhart, who prefer Bunyan's folkier work that followed will enjoy the second disc of acoustic guitar and vocal recordings, which seem more in line with what Shirley Collins was up to even if she'd never heard of Collins at the time. You can read all about Bunyan and Collins in the new issue of Ptolemaic Terrascope (No. 36), which comes with a freakin' amazing 20-track compilation disc boasting rare and unreleased recordings by Kendra Smith, Barbara Manning, Doug Yule, Davey Graham, Steve Wynn and many others. www.terrascope.org.