Ambient Alarm Clock: February Playlist

Welcome back to Ambient Alarm Clock where this week I have a special playlist prepared for you. Those who know me well, will know that playlisting is a constant habit of mine. Each month I assemble numerous playlists of new and old music of all sorts, and today I felt like sharing my most recent one with you all. I often start my playlists the same way (with one of my favorite songs) to set the tone, and from there they branch out into all sorts of different directions. I think this is something that I will try to do more frequently, so let me know if you dig it and want to hear more.

February Playlist

1. Intro (Ace of Cups – Music)
2. Woodsman – Inside/Outside
3. Women – Bullfight
4. Frame – Frame of Mind
5. Pyschedelic Aliens – Gbe Keke Wo Taoc
6. Black Beats – The Mod Trade
7. Sun Ra – Drop Me Off in Harlem
8. Roy Orbisson – Mean Woman Blues
9. Alex Bleeker & the Freaks – Dead On
10. Jerry Garcia Band – I’m Troubled
11. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Fright Night (Nevermore)
12. Genesis – Dance on a Volcano
13. Woodsman – Serfer

All That Jazz

This is the first installment of what will (hopefully) become a fairly regular weekend feature on Dog Gone Blog. The title for the feature may seem obvious, but it really comes from something that was a major part of my childhood. As a youngster, riding around in my father’s car we would always have great music on the stereo, and one of my favorite things to hear was always Curtis Bailey’s jazz show on CKLN-FM 88.1 (Ryerson University Radio), called ‘All That Jazz.’

Every Saturday afternoon, Curtis would get on the air and spill his incredible knowledge of jazz over the radio waves with his trademark growl that only the best radio hosts possess (i.e. Wolfman Jack). He was often referred to as an “encyclopedia of jazz,” and was rumored to have amassed the largest record collection in all of Toronto. For years he volunteered his time on this college radio station, and could often be found lurking in the corners of Toronto’s jazz clubs. This feature is dedicated to Curtis and his incredible radio show.

Curtis Bailey

For this first installment, I wanted to share something special—something Curtis would have liked—so I went into my vinyl collection and pulled out one of my favorites, The Gary Burton Quintet’s (with Eberhard Weber) Ring from 1974 on ECM Records. For those of you who don’t know, Gary Burton is a vibes virtuoso who sprang onto the scene in the early ’60’s and is known as one of the grandmasters of his craft.

While often overlooked, Burton was instrumental in the rise of electric jazz in the late 1960’s. Using a progressive, and often psychedelic approach, Burton ventured into various genres of music, recording with artists such as Stan Getz, Hank Garland and even Chet Atkins.

For Ring, Burton assembled an all-star cast with a unique mix of instruments that included Bob Moses (drums), twin electric basses played by Steve Swallow and Eberhard Weber, and twin electric guitars played by Mick Goodrick and a little known guitarist, at the time, named Pat Metheny (who was just 20 years old).

Pat Metheny & Gary Burton

I’ve cut the entire A Side for your listening enjoyment, which you can stream below. Please excuse the “wooshing” at the very beginning—it’s quite an old record.

As Curtis Bailey would have said “Here’s Gary Burton’s Ring: Side A on ‘All That Jazz.'”

From the Vault: Dick’s Final Pick

Lately, we’ve been revisiting classic tapes in an attempt to shed some light on this bygone era. Today, we turn our attention to one of the best known tape traders who provided us with so many great recordings bearing his own name—Dick Latvala.

Dick's Pick Vol. 14

Over the weekend, I read a great piece on Dick that pushed me to write this post that I have had on my list of ideas for some time now. While there are 36 Dick’s Picks in total, only 14 of those were chosen by Mr. Latvala himself. Before Dick passed away in 1999, he released one final Dick’s Pick—volume 14—that captured two of his favorite performances in pristine form, as was always his way. Afterwards, the reins were passed down to David Lemieux, who released the remaining 22 and serves as the Dead’s archivist to this day. In this special edition of From the Vault, we look back on the two performances captured on DP14 in an effort to share with people these shows that Dick held so dear to his heart.

Dick in the Vault '94

The shows that I am speaking of are November 30th and December 2nd 1973—the year that Dick referred to as “the most prolific and exciting year in G.D. history.” I would tend to agree, with fall/December being, arguably, the best time of that year. These two performances bookended a three-night run at Boston Music Hall, and together capture some of the finest playing of the entire tour, and of the year for that matter.

Both performances have something in common, and something that Dick felt was the ultimate indicator of a good show—blistering versions of “Playin’ in the Band.” By this point in the year, the band had fully realized their transition toward a new sound that departed from the jazz-inspired playing that defines the summer of ’73. This style, that emerged early on during the fall tour, showed the band coming together with a tightness that allowed them to explore their jams with a greater depth. The band can be heard weaving in and out of themes, and variations of them, with more fluidity, thus making the greatness that is fall ’73.

Boston Music Hall 1973

Constantly riding a creative wave, the band delivered some of their peak performances during this period such as the must-hear shows from 10.19.73 and 10.25.73, along with several others. It’s no surprise that the first Dick’s Picks release (12.19.73) was taken from this period—as Dick has said “I could stay in the winter of ’73 forever.” Apparently, according to Dick, it was the version of “Here Comes Sunshine” that persuaded him to choose 12.19.73, over other shows from the period, for the first release. But before Dick was done, he made sure to revisit his favorite period in the Dead’s career one last time.

The first set on November 30th opens with a powerful version of “Morning Dew,” and closes with a long and unique version of “Playin’ in the Band.” During the entire second set the band is on fire, but highlights come in the form of the “Weather Report Suite” that flows into the “Dark Star” jam and then into “Eyes of the World.”

WRS” > “Dark Star” > “Eyes of the World” (11.30.73)

For the show on December 2nd, we turn to a page from Dick’s handwritten notes. One of the comments reads:

“After hearing it, it ranks high on my all time favorite list of jams. I’m talking about the 2nd set, which is one of the Dead’s more finer moments. These mindblowing shows happen during every year and this was one of the heaviest for 1973.”

He continues to write:

“Every part of the closing jam is fantastic, but the “jam” section before “He’s Gone,” contains so many thrills that it is unbelievable…This show definitely deserves my highest award”

Playin’ in the Band” > “Mind Left Body Jam” > “He’s Gone” > “Truckin’” > “Nobody’s Jam” (12.2.73)

Dick's Handwritten Notes

One of the goals in writing these articles is to try and bring attention toward specific, individual shows. That was one of Dick’s goals in releasing the Dick’s Picks series, and was something he talked about in interviews. While the various online resources are great, they are somewhat of a mixed blessing in that the importance of a single show can often become lost. So, “take a step back,” and when you download these shows, give each one a full and honest listen. That’s the way Dick would have wanted it. As Dick’s son Rich Latvala said:

“He felt that online trading and exchanging digital files really removed the personal element in tape trading. That was the most appalling thing he could imagine happening. One of the major elements in tape trading for him was sharing the music personally, discussing it one on one, discovering new things together, and just talking to other people about it… He abhorred the idea that you would just download the music and never talk about anyone with it.”

The Listening Station: The Fresh & Onlys

The Fresh & Onlys

It’s been some time since the Bay Area produced a slew of psychedelic rock acts that managed to garner national attention. But with the rise of San Fran bands like Citay, Sleepy Sun and The Fresh & Onlys, it seems a new wave of modern era psych-rock is emerging, and these guys are one of the most interesting to come out of it, thus far.

Granted, you won’t find the classic British-influenced vocal harmonies heard by bands such as The Moody Blues—this time around it’s a mix of garage-pop, often with a heavy dose of reverb. But what gives it that psychedelic label is a common willingness to explore, to get weird.

The Fresh and Onlys is a four piece band that fully came together in 2008 amidst a creative flurry that saw them put out a score of 7”s, a limited cassette and two full length albums, all in the course of a year. The combination of jangly, surf-guitar melodies buried in a thick low-fi mud beneath singer Tim Cohen’s unfaltering vocal delivery creates a sound that seems to be just coming into its own. And the creative flurry has yet to let up.

The group’s latest release Play it Strange earned an 8.0 rating from Pitchfork (which means absolutely nothing) and was included on numerous “Best of 2010″ lists by some of the most respected in the business. The new album combines straight-ahead, yet powerful rave-up types (“I’m All Shook Up”), feel-good sun-drenched beachcombers (“Summer of Love”) with an ambitious 8-minute psychedelic anthem (“Tropical Island Suite”).

The Fresh & Onlys will soon be heading out on tour and are planning yet another forthcoming EP. Check out their live show and pick up their new album. I highly recommend both. I’ve provided some audio along with a couple of downloads below. I hope you dig.

Summer of Love(Download)

Waterfall” (Download)

Tropical Island Suite” (Download)

02-27 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill ^
03-16-19 Austin, TX – SXSW
03-21 San Diego, CA – Tin Can Alehouse
03-22 Los Angeles, CA – Echo
04-12 Denver, CO – Hi Dive *
04-13 Lawrence, KS – The Jackpot Saloon *
04-14 Bloomington, IN – The Bishop *
04-15 Pittsburgh, PA – Brillobox *
04-18 Cincinnati, OH – MOTR Pub *
04-19 Saint Louis, MO – The Billiken Club #
04-20 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall *#
04-21 Toronto, Ontario – Parts & Labour *
04-22 Montreal, Quebec – Il Motore *
04-23 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg *#
04-24 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie *#
04-25 Washington, DC – Red Palace *#
04-27 Atlanta, GA – The Earl *#
04-28 Birmingham, AL – Bottletree *#
05-25 Barcelona, Spain – Primavera Festival
^ with Growlers, Pleasure Kills, Wrong Words
* with Young Prisms
# with Crocodiles

If you have any suggestions for bands you’d like to see featured here, send me an e-mail at and hopefully I’ll get around to it.