Big note januari 29 1999

links: frank zappa, captain beefheart, the residents and others

* mce: 180 from ordinary
(1997, cd, us, inova recordings 513)

the minnesota contemporary ensemble started out in 1992. their fifth anniversary was celebrated with a cd: 180 from ordinary, a selection of highlights and special moments. i am not too familiar with most of the composers that are present on this album (it's a pity that the booklet does not include biographical info), but that's about the only remark i can think of. this is a very impressive album: it sounds very fresh, very versatile. besides work by astor piazzolla, paul siskind, libby larsen, sofia gubaidulina, allen gleck and tom trenka, the mce also performs frank zappa's 'black page' (percussion & piano). the track was recorded live at the famous walker art center and sounds absolutely great.

* muffin men: mufFinZ
(1998, cd, us, muffin records cd-056)

i lost count. this probably is number six. only a month or so ago the latest version of the muffin men toured yurrip: a mixture of muffins, twiddly wizzards and grandmothers. at the same time, "mufFinZ" got released. to some, this might have been a bit confusing as the recordings on this album are from the previous tour and from a previous line-up. anyway, the concerts were great (as usual) and the album is great as well. over sixty minutes of zappa material by a bunch of british lads: 'clownz on velvet', 'little umbrellas' a capella, 'any - psychelic - way the wind blows', 'plastic factory' (ex-MOI jimmy carl black as the captain!!), 'dupree's paradise', 'big swifty' and lots and lots more. mufFinZ is a very fine, very funny album. get hold of it.

* motor totemist guild: city of mirrors
(1999, cd, us, cuneiform records rune 116)

the original motor totemist guild was formed in 1980 by composer james grigsby and poet/singer christine clements. after several albums, in 1985, clements left and the band continued as an instrumental group. in 1987, emily hay joined the ensemble, re-introducing vocals. two years later, grigsby and hay joined david kerman and sanjay kumur to form a new group called u totem. during the 1993 u totem tour in yurrip, grisby met dutch composer louis andriessen, who talked him into researching stan kenton, an american band leader from the swing era. grisby said: "the discovery of this music was the impetus to create a new version of motor totemist guild." and it shows: the 17-piece (!) band mixes all sorts of sounds: electronics, big band horns, samba, zappa-esque melodies and rhythms,... the result is very interesting and invites you to numerous listenings. highly recommended.

* farrell / black band: black limousine
(1998, cdrec, private pressing)

on "black limousine" blues guitar and harp player richard ray farrell teams up with former mother of invention jimmy carl black (on drums and vocals). this one is all about the blues. all songs (except one) are composed by farrell and / or black. nothing groundbreaking, but an enjoyable album. farrell knows his classics and he does fine lead vocals as well. jimmy also told me that a US tour was scheduled for early 1999, and that he was looking forward to it. something to look out for if they play in your neighbourhood.
the band is still looking for a record contract which is the reason for this private pressing.

and there's more

december 14, 1998: belgian radio:brt 1: "Cucamonga": int. roddie gilliard & (muffin men) december 21, 1998: dutch radio 4: NPS Radio: "Supplement": the others of invention

(peter van laarhoven)

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