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  Listen Up! 5/30/03 Listen Up!

Friday, May 30

Kevin Ayers – John Cale – Eno – Nico, “June 1, 1974,” Island Records. This somewhat legendary live document of a one-off superstars of art-rock concert doesn’t pack the punch it did when I first heard it at parties in the late 70s. But, it’s not half bad. Ayers, the nominal star of the evening (though the one we hipsters were least interested in after the fact), has a deep growl of a voice that doesn’t impress me much, but he does write some pretty catchy major-key tunes, which lead to some fun old-fashioned guitar solos. Eno’s “Baby’s On Fire” is rightfully the big hit, though it doesn’t rock as hard as I remember it; maybe I heard some bands cover it with more oomph. Cale’s “Heartbreak Hotel” isn’t as scary as his studio version, but it’s still fun to hear. I really don’t need to sit through Nico’s rendition of that horrible Doors song “The End,” though. It’s kind of hard at this late date to see why so many people found her so entrancing. She was effective on that first Velvet Underground album, but very little else is worth bothering with.

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, “Live At My Father’s Place,” some import label without a name. It’s late 1978, Beefheart has all these new songs soon to be released on “Doc at the Radar Station,” and his amazing band cracks them out along with a few oldies in a killer live concert. I can only imagine the thrills of seeing Beefheart on a stage, since I never had the chance to do so myself. The music sounds pretty much like the record, only slightly less rich in recording quality. It is fun to hear him interact with the crowd. After people inundate him with requests, he intones majestically, “I will play what I will play.”

--Steve Pick


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