Monday, June 25, 2007

"Soul Sacrifice"

If you've been watching the news or reading a paper this last week, you'll know that this is festival season. Glastonbury, Download, Wireless, Isle of Wight, V, Reading, the list goes on and on.
I haven't attended a festival for many years, and watching The Who show the kids a thing or two late Sunday night made me keen to strap on the backpack and get out there again.
Wait a minute. The Who? At Glasto 2007?
Let's put some perspective on that. The Who played Woodstock, thirty eight years ago. THIRTY-EIGHT years ago! And while Sunday's show wasn't the same four guys who tore up the stage in 1969, while time has laid its hand on the grizzled heads of Roger and Pete, they still had "it".
It's an education to look back at the Woodstock line-up from 38 years ago and see who's still carrying the flag: Richie Havens, Country Joe MacDonald, John Sebastian, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Santana, The Who, Joe Cocker, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young...
History shall recall that The Who played a 24-song set to close the second day of the festival. And while there were four songs they played at Woodstock that they ALSO played at Glastonbury there was one that, to me, stood out head and shoulders, both times:

There may have been better performances, but they're not on film. This is charisma, this is skill, this is passion, this is excitement, this is everything that was ever good about live performance.

So why is this entry named "Soul Sacrifice"? Because wanting to pay tribute to The Who after their performance Sunday sort of sidetracked this blog, but mainly because, hidden away among the great performances that weekend in upstate New York was one that, when I first saw the film of the event, knocked me sideways and still does.
Santana only played seven songs at Woodstock but the one that made it on film was "Soul Sacrifice," in which drummer Michael Shrieve, who was 19 at the time, played what I imagine most drummers would call "a blinder."
For over nine minutes he's at the center of this song, driving it on, trading the lead with Carlos Santana's guitar, filling, rolling, and delivering a solo that I have yet to hear the equal of. And he's loving it. Who wouldn't love, at nineteen years of age, to be playing alongside one of the legends of music?
At around 2:26 into the clip, Shrieve looks skywards with a smile of sheer delight on his face, and ten seconds later the camera pan over the percussionists, hunkered down tight over their congas, and you see the same smile on their faces. This is music played for the sheer pleasure of it, and extended workout that's been so well-learned that the musicians can relax and enjoy it.
And while the entire band's performance is irresistible, it's obvious that the one who enjoyed it most was Michael Shrieve.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Darling Nikki"

George Bernard Shaw once said “Dancing: The vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music." He might as well have gone the whole hog and added " Prince."

What is it with Prince and sex, anyway? His music has explored pretty much every single kink or proclivity known to man; Mary Whitehouse would definitely not have approved. Though I wonder if she could have resisted dancing.

Here's a song that takes you into the bedroom, ties you down and has its wicked way with you for, oh, a weekend or so. The guitars make a sound like cotton panties being ripped, the chorus is the musical equivalent of the vinegar strokes, and the whole thing winds itself up in an orgiastic cataclysm.

And Prince? After the girl kicks him out, he gulps, he sighs, he pants, he mewls like an underfed kitten, and when it's clear Nikki isn't coming back, he lets loose with a shattering, piercing scream that strips the paint off walls, while his trusty Revolution...well, they might as well not have even been there.

This is Prince's (bedroom) show and he's not taking any prisoners.