The other unexpected and happily received Christmas gift I got this year was the 2014 ep by my favorite L.A. based band ViseVersa. I should say that one of the reasons that I love this band is that I had the drummer in class for several years. Hers was the class that had to put up with me for at least four years as I followed them from junior high to high school. She was also one of my yearbook babies. So I like her a lot. Oh, and she tutored my boy In drums for a short time, and now she’s a rock star, so, you know, no big deal.
Anyway, this album. Four tracks. Four great funky rock songs. I’m hearing straight ahead driving rock like the Hives and such, but it’s also funky. Zeke’s dirty guitar reminds me of Hendrix or Lenny Kravits. I’m not educated enough to analyze all the influences. “Great funky rock songs” aught to be enough.
Three of the four songs are about what three-fourths of all rock songs are about, trying to get some loving. The third is a stick-it-to-the-man political number where the drummer delivers some sweet speed rap. All four songs rock hard while providing an opportunity for the musicians to noodle a bit as well. I like that. A great example of this is the last song on the ep, Next One. That’s also their first video.
You can hear all four songs here or right here.
As far as I can tell, the band stays busy in the Los Angeles area, so if you’re out there and you want to see them, it shouldn’t be to difficult. I’m looking forward to catching them in K.C. sometime.
ViseVersa’s official website
I picked up a Eddie Harris album at a thrift store the other day. I’d never heard of him so it was kind of a risk. On the other hand, it was a jazz album on the Atlantic label. On the other hand the album title is pretty obnoxious, and the cover art even more so. On the other hand the names of the tracks were intriguing. And he plays a sax, my old instrument. And it was only a buck. So I got it.
I’m glad I did. It’s kind of a mixed bag. It’s all good. But it’s all kinds of good. It starts out with a funky electrified tenor saxophone jam called “Funkaroma” This is followed by “Happy Gemini” and “Is it in.” Both of these tracks are pretty funky and will having you bobbing your head. “Is it in” reminds me of a slightly dirty version of the Cosby Show theme. Then comes “It’s War,” a track that starts out with crickets, and an indistinct invocation by Mr. Harris. This is followed by layer upon layer of various percussion. It’s like trance music. Great. Side A mellows with the last track “Space Commercial” featuring synth-sax. This song is like what the saxophone solos of 80’s movies wanted to be–chill and funky, and not cheesy, just good.
When we flip the record we get another groove that makes me dance a bit more, “Look Ahere.” At “These Lonely Nights” we’re back in space, a dissonant electric piano kind of space. It’s Tron crossed with an old Vincent Price movie vibe. Then Harris comes in with his saxophone and clears your nightmares and tucks you back into bed. This song gets so pretty it’s ridiculous. Eventually he leads you back to space, but this time is nice a peaceful and floaty. I think it ends with whale song. Next is “House Party Blues.” Thirty seconds into this one and I knew I didn’t want it stop. And it doesn’t for about eight minutes. Good old foot stomping piano & guitargan blues. The album ends with its most challenging piece, “Tranquility & Antagonistic.” There’s some Charlie Parker type stuff here. The kind of thing that might remind some of a junior high trumpet player having a go at his friends sax, pushing buttons as fast as he can. But you know, there’s got to be songs that you can’t dance or make-out to out there as well.
I’m glad I have this album. I’m glad I listened to it a few times. It gets better each go. I’ll definitley keep an eye out for more of Eddie Harris. Here is most of Is It In.
Another Alco story. Mike and I would occasionally pedal the mile or so up town to purchase a new album. I don’t know what the occasion was this time, whether we had some money burning a hole in our pocket or what. But after perusing the selection we some how ended up with a Funkadelic record. I think it was one nation under a groove. I wish I was privy to our conversation back then because this doesn’t seem like a record we would have normally bought. But we got it, pedaled it home, and opened it up. To our horror the inside was a sort of porno cartoon (I think I found it on line, but I’m not posting it here).
The record never made it out of the sleeve. We were scared to death of mom finding that thing. I don’t think we had time to return it that day, so we shoved it between the mattress and box springs for the night. At our next opportunity we returned it for a refund. To bad about the dirty pictures, as it would be years before I finally learned to love me some P-Funk.
Brother Mike: I don’t remember returning it, I remember destroying it (ripping the cover into little pieces and putting it in the trash outside) but maybe that is just what I did in my mind. I, too, wonder how we came to purchase it. It seems like it would have been pre Sugar Hill Gang days.