Something Old / Something New

The King Lives!…
and King Gizzard?

Elvis Presley

DVD: Elvis Lives: The 25th Anniversary Concert “Live” From Memphis

Single DVD

Available from Amazon

Occasionally  there are performances that cause you to completely change your opinion about the artist. This, for me, is one.

I never had much use for Elvis. I had no use for “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog”, but I happened upon a trailer for a DVD on TV, and thought that the technology involved seemed interesting:  it is a live concert recording made in Elvis’s home town of Memphis on the 25th anniversary of his death. The concert took place on August 16, 2002,  25 years to the day after Elvis’s 1977 death.

Every musician is live on stage for the concert,  including all of the original members of Elvis’s band and supporting vocalists. There are also additional musical and vocal reinforcements…all that is missing is Elvis.

But he’s there, too. The backbone of  the concert is video of his Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii performance from January, 1973 (although other performances are used as well).  It was the first time satellites were used to beam a live concert around the world, and more than a billion people watched.

At the time of that concert, Elvis was 38 years old. He was mature, strong, and vigorous: at the peak of his powers.

The editing and merging of the images of Elvis  with the live performers is excellent. I would say Elvis was at his best, and the musicians had gotten even better and stronger after 25 years. The only soundtrack extracted from the original concert is Elvis. You can view the trailer here.

The first song that really grabbed me was” You Gave Me a Mountain”, which just  takes off and soars. It was this song’s chorus that made me think that something special was going on here.

 

“If I Can Dream”, from the 1968 TV special, Elvis,  is terrific and he puts everything into it. The 2002 version is much bigger and stronger than the original, largely due to the additional singers and musicians.

 

“American Trilogy” is a magnificently powerful work, a beautifully crafted medley of several pieces with a full range of musical and emotional dynamics. It is over far too soon; just listen to how a solo flute gets us ready for a really great musical climax. This was not the last number for the concert, but it well could have been.

 

The intercutting  of the varied concert images and the edited-in discussions was ocasionally confusing.  Overall, though, it’s difficult to realize that Elvis is not physically present. The sound is great: just like being there, but better.—Fred Schwartz

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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Album: Murder Of The Universe

33 RPM – 1 LP Vomit Coffin Ltd. Edition

Release: Flightless Records, June 2017

Within the first 30 seconds, I got the feeling of where the latest KG&TLWMurder Of The Universe was going to take me. To the end of humanity, and the cusp of the what would lay beyond the end. This is the 2nd of 5 planned releases of 2017 by the Australian garage psych-surf-band lead by the never resting Stu Mackenzie. The first release of the planned 5 for this year was Flying Microtonal Banana (February 2017) had the band transform their instruments (all of them) into hand modified micro-tonal instruments.

Previous to that release, Nonagon Infinity (2016) was a concept album which seamlessly looped all songs into one another and linked the last song to the first by matching tempo and spacing fuzzed guitar riffs perfectly. 2015 KG&TLW released Quarters!  Which has 4 songs, each measuring 10:10 and splitting the album into equal doses of jazz and acid rock and heavy metal. KG&TLW’s discography is equally ambitious and strange the further you dig into the vault.

This brings us to the most draining and heavy of all their previous 8 full length epic conceptual albums. The first time I finished Metallica’sMaster of Puppets in its entirety, I was drained. Driving in my Volvo and grasping for breath between tracks. Metallica never gave me time to catch my breath, until I had to flip the tape or get out of the car. Murder Of The Universe reminded me of that sweaty anxious, pit of my stomach feeling. The album is split into 3 chapters with two characters providing voice overs for the entire story.

The first part Tracks 1-9: (Female voice over by the eloquent Leah Senior – a gifted Australian folk singer) “The Tale Of The Altered Beast” is a story of a human who comes across a hybrid human/beast creature who is then dubbed “The Altered Beast”. The Altered Beast is created by a human who wishes to cross the taboo and become “altered”. After the human and beast combine themselves, the narrative continues from the perspective of the Altered Beast – consumed by the need to destroy all. Ha! Of course! What would you do in that situation? As the first set of songs continue, you learn that the beast cannot mentally support the absorption of the human being and understanding the human conscience. Song 9 “Life / Death” is the death of the Altered Beast through insanity and depression, falls to the ground and absorbed by the Earth. This is only the first set of songs, and writing this I have to remind the reader – this isn’t a movie review. Its Australian psych- rock and conceptual albums at its finest. Exhausting and entertaining as hell! The songs blend together and with a total album play time is just over 46 minutes, with content is bursting through Frankenstein stiches.

The Second Chapter (voiced again by Leah Senior) “The Lord Of Lighting Vs Balrog” is an somewhat interrelated story, post Altered Beast existence, of a battle between two powerful entities. One named The Lord Of Lighting and the newly formed zombie corpse named Balrog. See, Balrog was a stiff who got zapped by the Lord Of Lighting and reanimated. Obviously! Only to turn into The Lord Of Lighting’s arch enemy. The Lord of Lighting turns Balrog into a pile of ash and leaves Earth forever.

New comes the piece de resistance! Chapter 3: “Han-Tyumi And The Murder Of The Universe”. The final chapter spans tracks 16-21 and is narrated by the real-life robot:

NaturalReader’s “UK, Charles” text-to-speech program. The narration tells the tale of a cyborg like being who gains consciousness, almost the same consciousness that was part of the now decomposed Altered Beast. It is through this newly formed consciousness that the cyborg, Han-Tyumi (ammonium for Humanity) strives for the one thing a cyborg can’t achieve. Vomiting and death. Yup. This is not a drill. This is a new album by a very far-out there band. Han-Tyumi creates a machine named, get ready… “Soy-Protein Munt Machine”, whose only “skill” (used lightly) is to vomit. The newly formed robot Soy-Protein Munt Machine rejects Han-Tyumi’s affection. Through this denial, Han-Tyumi wants nothing but to merge himself into his creation. The newly formed “thing” goes crazy (has to rough), like all the others before it and destroys itself. And in the process of self-destruction coats the universe in infinite supply of vomit.

Yikes! Gnarly.

All this cosmic comic content, which would make Troma movie enthusiasts blush, fits onto two sides of a single LP. The story is bizarre, fun and unique. The musical texture is lo-fi to the extent that is sounds like it was recorded live via VHS Tape. The band is gaining notoriety and selling out all of the 2017 tour and featured on spots on all the late-night talk shows. Murder Of The Universe isn’t trying to solve the world’s problems, fix social injustices and isn’t calling out the faults of man or the current state of international politics. It’s fun (at times hilarious, catchy, fast, and stained in sweat and motor oil. The songs of Murder Of The Universe never get overly repetitive and there are some set changes which shape the story line and alter the tempo. After a couple solid listening adventures, this album has some serious staying power and secrets of the Alter Beast continue to exposes themselves listen after listen.

If you see this band coming to a venue in your town, don’t pass. This is a group reaching the top of the mountain and gaining some well-deserved attention.—Dan McCauley