Friday, January 16, 2009

Bobby Freeman

Bobby Freeman was a Bay Area soul singer whose career spanned most of soul music's prime years, from the mid-50s into the early 70s. His best known material centered around the Swim, a dance he may or may not have pioneered. Singles such as "Come on and Swim (parts 1 and 2)" and "S-W-I-M" did pretty well on the R&B charts, the former cracking the Top Five in 1964.

In '64, Freeman began recording for Autumn Records, where a young musician named Sly Stewart was getting his start as a producer. In just a few short years, of course, Stewart would go on to form Sly and the Family Stone. And while the sound doesn't necessarily hint at the music Stewart would go on to make with that group, these early Autumn singles are as notable for his genius arrangements and production as they are for Freeman's voice.

The standout track from that period is this one, "That Little Old Heartbreaker Me," the b-side to the 1964 single "S-W-I-M."

Bobby Freeman - That Little Old Heartbreaker Me

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Kevin Coyne

Case History is a fitting title for Kevin Coyne's first album, as the music is inspired by his time working as a drug counselor and social worker in an institution for the mentally ill. Released in 1971, it's a bluesy English folk record that doesn't sound too far off from what Led Zeppelin had done on side two of Zeppelin III right around the same time. It's a record of serious alienation and suffering, although not without its moments of light and redemption.

Coyne went on to be one of the first artists signed to Virgin Records, and although his career never grew bigger than a cult UK following, the label supported him faithfully, until he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1981 (after which he continued to release music on Cherry Red). He continued making music, literature and art until his death in 2004.

Kevin Coyne - Evil Island Home
Kevin Coyne - Need Somebody

A BBC performance of "House On the Hill" from 1973's Marjory Razorblade.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Will Oldham in the Actual News

The New Yorker has a profile of Will Oldham in its new issue. Read it here.

He also made the time to drop in on the Fox Morning News in Kansas City recently. The man's sense of humor is sublime as ever.

Freddy K and the Breeze, Death


Almost more compelling to me than the lost classics of the acid casualties and unknowns that make great music and then disappear are the lost classics of those acid casualties and unknowns that make great music and then find Jesus. For some, that chapter is where the story ends or turns into something far less interesting. But I think the salvation sought by the born-again is driven by very much the same spirit that brought those people to the drugs and the craziness, and perhaps even the music, too. And in that sense, I think it paints a much broader picture of the quest these souls, and perhaps all souls, are on.

Is religion the quick fix? The easiest answer? Sure. But for some people, perhaps the demons are so big that you need a bigger, broader answer. Just as you can't perform surgery with a chainsaw, you also can't cut down a tree with a scalpel. And again, the grandeur in the act of actually going so far as to repent and be born-again is borne of the same grandeur that makes the psychosis (and the music it produces) so compelling. Remember, too, even Dylan succumbed to the arms of the lord at some point.


Freddy K is one such acid-casualty turned Christian Fellow. In the late 80s, in various parts of Massachusetts, he and a revolving cast of bandmates pieced together two albums and a scrapped EP of snarling, druggy garage rock, very much in the vein of the snarling, druggy garage rock that Roky Erickson had been making a few years earlier. Recorded as Freddy K and the Breeze, 1987's "Immortally Wounded" and 1988's "Random Enforcement" were nothing more than regional curiosities, with his drug-fueled antics apparently receiving more attention than the music he was putting out.

The story pretty much trails off there and doesn't pick up again until Freddy reemerges from the woods, now saved, a "follower of Jesus," in his words, with a double CD collection of songs called "God Bless What?"

Here are two songs from his 1988 album "Random Enforcement."

Freddy K & The Breeze - Clean Friends
Freddy K & The Breeze - Kids Were Tough As Nails


While not as drug-fueled or psychotic, Death is another group of musicians who made intense and inspired rock and roll before finding the lord. In 1976, inspired by the local sounds of the MC5 and the Stooges, three black brothers from Detroit self-released a 7" of driven, politically-charged protopunk. Shortly thereafter, the group disbands and the brothers reform as a Christian rock band called The Fourth Movement.

"Politicians In My Eyes" is one of the greatest punk songs you will ever hear. Five minutes of blistering, melodic rage, halfway between Thin Lizzy and Bad Brains. Thankfully, Drag City will be reissuing the two songs, along with a whole EPs worth of unreleased material, in February.

(via Chunklet )
Death - Politicians In My Eyes

More info at:
Freddy K's website
Drag City