Time for me to tell you again what new-to-me stuff I’ve been putting in my ears lately.
(The old-to-me stuff getting spun lately includes Jandek, the Jerry Garcia Band and John Coltrane — a playlist brought to you by the letter J. On a whim, I also put on my Gerald-Ford-plus-theremin Bandcamp album. I’m pleased to report it is only getting better with age.)
For the new discoveries, I’ll start with the lesser pleasures and build to a big finale:
Larry Young, Unity: My biggest prior exposure to the artist came via the Tony Williams Lifetime’s Emergency!, on which Young’s overdriven Hammond organ slops, sweats, sizzles and smokes.
So I was a little underwhelmed by Unity at first. It was straight, mannerly bop (or post-bop, or something — I’m not up on my jazz-critic labels), not nearly as messy or electric as the rock-fueled Emergency!
But I did a little reading, and revised my outlook, and have come back for a second listen, and found much to like. This one, I think, will grow on me.
Sun Ra and the Astro Infinity Arkestra, Pathways to Unknown Worlds/Friendly Love: This is terrific, and sounds in places like what would happen if you locked pandas in a high-school band room for 500 years. (You’d have to equip the room with a couple of Moogs, too, I guess.)
This re-release combines an album issued in 1975 with a series of previously unreleased recordings made two years before.
Bizarre, muddy, unpredictable free-jazz improvisation abounds throughout; sax and bass clarinet outbursts periodically die down so bandleader Ra can play weird interstellar keyboard interludes in the key of Pluto.
I have selected bass clarinetist Eloe Omoe as my favorite Arkestra member, since he upholds a long-running standard of weirdness on his instrument. From Bennie Maupin on Bitches Brew to the Mascara Snake on Trout Mask Replica, bass clarinetists always seem to sound like they’re in a different room from the rest of the band. Maybe I need to start playing bass clarinet. It might change my entire perspective.
The only drag about this reissue is the newly created album cover, which is dreadful and clip-arty and so poorly done that it misspells the album title (never seen that before.)
Inside the booklet, though, are two informative essays about the Arkestra’s members, the band’s activities around the time of recording, and the challenge of transferring Ra’s often amateurish recordings into the digital realm.
This stuff is three times as much as fun as Night In The Ruts, anyway. Be the first one on your block, etc.
And now the big kahuna:
Radio broadcasts of old baseball games.
I’ve long dreamed of a library that would hold broadcasts of average baseball games. Not the World Series — I know how those come out — but just some typical Tuesday night in 1966 in Atlanta, times 10,000. It would make my collection of Grateful Dead shows look like a 10-minute punk EP by comparison.
I don’t quite have that yet. But I do have the 306 vintage radio broadcasts collected here, and that’s a damned nice first step.
These kinds of old recordings have circulated for years, and usually, the people who collect them make money by selling copies.
But one brave user of the Internet Archive seems to have decided to liberate them all. (He — I’m betting it’s a he — also claims to have cleaned some of them up sonically, and maybe that’s so.)
Some of these are postseason and All-Star games, and thus not quite what I had in mind — though I’m planning to listen to some of those anyway, because I’ve never actually heard the play-by-play even though I know the final score.
Lots and lots of others are the average ordinary games I’ve been longing for. And I plan to dive into them and roll around in them and smother myself with them. Not sure exactly how I can do that and still fulfill my obligations to society, but I’m working on figuring it out.
Vin Scully is here. So are Red Barber, Phil Rizzuto, the Seattle Pilots, the Philadelphia A’s, and more old-timey, gusto-choked beer commercials than I can shake a fungo bat at. (The oldest games posted here are old enough that Babe Ruth could be in them, though I haven’t listened to find out if he is.)
The dude who posted these games appears to have done so on the understanding that MLB radio broadcasts from 1973 and earlier are in the public domain.
I have no idea whether there’s any truth to that … so if this collection interests you the way it interests me, don’t sleep on it.
Indeed, I may stop sleeping altogether.