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Thread: The Muffins Box Set

  1. #151
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conti View Post
    Thanks, this influence really stands out sometimes, especially in Chronometers and parts of Manna/Mirage.
    I’m hugely fond of the Chronometers era, but I do think that the influences are more readily apparent in that era than what came later from the band.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  2. #152
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    I’m hugely fond of the Chronometers era, but I do think that the influences are more readily apparent in that era than what came later from the band.
    Definitely so. I also own Open City, which is a winner. No Canterbury influence at all, IMO, and a great album. I have yet to listen to their albums after they resumed activities in the nineties(?). The latest Manna/Mirage was beautiful though.

  3. #153
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    As far as <185> goes, the band was just beginning to get desperate with their situation by 1980. Whatever popularity they enjoyed in 1977-78 was pretty much gone in light of where popular rock music was headed by 1980-81, and by the time they were ready to do <185>, they were heading towards falling apart, and someone(s) had the idea to choose FF, who they all liked and respected, to produce, in order to keep bickering during expensive studio time to a minimum. Which he did, but also at the cost of (imo) making the final record not sound like what they actually sounded like. Again, imo.
    Does this mean you don't care for <185>?
    Primary procreation is accomplished…

  4. #154
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Does this mean you don't care for <185>?
    I pretty carefully & accurately wrote my feelings out in in the back and forth about <185> and the later remix, on page six of this very thread.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  5. #155
    Quote Originally Posted by Conti View Post
    Definitely so. I also own Open City, which is a winner. No Canterbury influence at all, IMO, and a great album.
    There is Canterbury influence in "Not Alone" which is from the M/M era. Most of the album is from the 185 era when they'd gotten away from the Canterbury style. It comes back sometimes in the reunion records.

  6. #156
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Here is what is on CD #8 in the box. CD 8 is the final CD documenting the 'original formation' of the group in the 70s and 80s. But there IS more to the story!

    Disc 8
    1. Horsebones
    2. Under Dali’s Wing
    3. Squeaker's Dream
    4. Boxed and Crossed
    5. Zoom Resume
    6. Queenside
    7. Angle Dance
    8. Antidote to Drydock
    9. World Maps
    10. Bob the Bat

    Dave Newhouse – Rhodes, Yamaha organ, woodwinds, acoustic piano
    Tom Scott – saxes, clarinets, flutes, oboe, bell tree
    Paul Sears – drums and percussion, soprano sax, xylophone, vocals
    Billy Swann – bass, guitar, tenor sax, vocals
    Doug Elliott – trombone (10)
    Scott Raffell – alto sax (10)

    1–2 recorded September 1980 at Track Recorders, Silver Spring, MD by Bill McCullough and are outtakes from <185>.
    3–5 recorded March 3, 1979 at The Psyche Delly, Bethesda MD by Colleen Scott.
    6 recorded December 1979 at The Washington Ethical Society, Washington, DC.
    7, 8, 10 recorded January 29, 1981 at The Washington Ethical Society.
    9 is a composite of January 29, 1981 at The Washington Ethical Society recordings, and circa-1981 bandhouse recordings.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  7. #157
    Manna/Mirage continues to grow on me.

    Steve, I didn't realize that you played on some of the Muffins' records. How did that come about?
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  8. #158
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    Manna/Mirage continues to grow on me.

    Steve, I didn't realize that you played on some of the Muffins' records. How did that come about?
    See #24.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  9. #159
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    See #24.
    Thanks! I missed that before somehow.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  10. #160
    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    My favourite The Muffins album also. I prefer the Frith-version but other version is good to have also.
    I remember Cutler's ReR catalog in the 90s referring to 185 as their "[...] patchiest" release - followed by the prompt for buyers to "[...] start with Chronometers".

    In a way I see and hear what he might have meant. For a group whose sound in essence was at once so simple in organic calling yet tenaciously powerful in quirky arrangement, the ideal listen would be the most direct delivery of it as possible - as in a live scenario etc. Both Manna, Chronometers and indeed that "Not Alone" (from Open City) seem to capture the latter spirit.

    Whereas 185 somehow doesn't, as it reaches for a base which perhaps isn't exactly contrived (as they say) but neither fully "theirs" in forming. Had it stood alone as a one-off release by just another US obscurity of Rock-In-Opposition aspirations it might have been a classic of sorts, but nowadays I keep perceiving it as curiosa of its time - give or take the Mr. Bungly-preset oddness. When it hits it definitely kills, though - as on "Queenside".
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  11. #161
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Here is what is on CD #9 in the box. CD 9 is the first of four CDs documenting the re-emergence of the group in the early 90s.

    Disc 9
    1. In the Black Room
    2. Ups and Downs
    3. Poetry Drive
    4. North of Muffin Head
    5. She Wears Her Dead Mother’s Hat
    6. Talking With the Planets
    7. Down From the Sun Tower/Impossible John
    8. Dancing in the Street
    9. Horny Toads
    10. There Not There
    11. Vocabulario
    12. Hobart Got Burned
    13. silence
    14. The Highlands
    15. The Two Georges
    16. Breaking The X

    Dave Newhouse – Roland RU-20 and Yamaha keyboards, woodwinds
    Tom Scott – saxes, clarinets, flutes, Casio keyboards, percussion
    Paul Sears – drums
    Billy Swann – bass, guitar
    Mark Gilbert – tenor sax (9)
    Scott Forrey – trumpet (9)

    1–5 recorded 1993/1994 in the Black Room, Washington, DC.
    6–7 recorded July 15–16, 1998 at the Merklehaus, Washington, DC.
    8–9 recorded July 17, 1999 at Phantasmagoria, Wheaton, MD by Carl Merson.
    10,16 recorded summer 2002 in rehearsal, Madison, VA.
    11 recorded September 1, 2002 at ProgDay, Chapel Hill, NC by Carl Merson.
    12 recorded September 1, 2001 at ProgDay, Chapel Hill, NC by Carl Merson.
    14–15 recorded September 14, 2002 at Orion Studios, Baltimore, MD by Mike Potter.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  12. #162
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    ^ They played ProgDay two years in a row?
    Primary procreation is accomplished…

  13. #163
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    ^ They played ProgDay two years in a row?
    Yes.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  14. #164
    Member adap2it's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    ^ They played ProgDay two years in a row?
    They played 2010 too, they were almost the house band.
    Dave Sr.

    I prefer Nature to Human Nature

  15. #165
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    ^ They played ProgDay two years in a row?
    Yeah and Paul played three years in a row, because he drummed for Clearlight in 2003 (filling in after the passing of Shaun Guerin).
    Infinite Ceiling on www.ckcufm.com every Thursday night at 8:30 with me or Mark Keill, archived shows: https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/112/...tml?filter=all
    Electronic Meditation on www.ckcufm.com archived shows: https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/462/...tml?filter=all

  16. #166
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    ^ Clearlight! Goddamn I missed some good stuff from those early ProgDays…
    Primary procreation is accomplished…

  17. #167
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    I remember Cutler's ReR catalog in the 90s referring to 185 as their "[...] patchiest" release - followed by the prompt for buyers to "[...] start with Chronometers".
    I remember from comments in the Wayside catalog that Cutler was a big fan of Chronometers.

  18. #168
    ^ Precisely.

    I've been listening through their four "core" records of yore (i.e. initial lifespan of the band, pre-reforming) these last couple of weeks, and I'm starting to agree wholeheartedly with Cutler. While I still think a couple of the tracks on Open City mark their absolute peak as writers and performers, Chronometers (rec. '75/'76) may indeed be their altogether finest standalone album offering.

    The lengthy opening epic especially contains more colour, contrast, microdetail and finesse than practically anything in US rock except for Zappa at that point, and the originally-unreleased-record-proper - in other words everything after that ace opening piece - dares do be every bit as jazzy as it allows for itself, as rock as needed and as "progressive" as eventually demanded or expected. Canterburial is finally adopted into US soil here, although I guess there'd already been various sparse efforts of this even earlier (Proto-Kaw, early HtM, a reference to Egg on that debut Fireballet, some mock traces with obscure acts like Polyphony, Maelstrom, Sigmund Snopek and the like). There are also those serious snippets of Americana folk-tone apparent underneath, making this quite the showcase for a "lost classic" calling. Some of Mike Zentner's violin work - which actually tends to sound like a viola sometimes! - lends pure magic to the total impression.

    So, if you're a Muffin man/fan and lost out on getting Chronometers first time around, get it any other way imaginable 'cause it's a marvellous story.

    I'm pulling out Grits' Rare Birds now, which according to reliable sources of knowledge isn't really bonafide Canterburicana but sure as hell would have fooled anyone and sounds spectacular in places all the same. And they too sport that rootsy alibi which so sets Chronometers apart, I think - albeit probably much more of it than Muff. I can only damn myself for not getting As The World Grits when it was still available and confirmed/declared for scarcity a few years back. If anything, this is all an essential part of what distinguished US progressive from the erstwhile lot.

    I'm doing Happy The Man and However after Grits. And then some more Muffer.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  19. #169
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    I found As the World Grits in a bargain bin at HMV Records back around 20 years ago or so. Luckily it was staring out at me as I passed by!
    Primary procreation is accomplished…

  20. #170
    I have As The World Grits. Good disc. Some Canterbury elements but a larger amount of Zappa, 10cc and a bit of the more concise side of Yes. Alas I haven't got around to hearing Rare Birds.

  21. #171
    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    I have As The World Grits. Good disc. Some Canterbury elements but a larger amount of Zappa, 10cc and a bit of the more concise side of Yes. Alas I haven't got around to hearing Rare Birds.
    Rare Birds is a live document with excellent sound, recorded August '76 in the backyard of The Muffins' house. Didn't Steve F. have anything to do with the actual recording process itself, or am I confusing this occasion with some other? Anyway, for an outdoor taping of sometimes extraordinarily varied and demanding music played "as it were" by a group who went apparently very well-known locally (and OMG did they deserve to be!), the quality of standards is second to none here.

    The album moves between intricately layered arrangements (sometimes beautifully melodic, I must say), improvised or jammy parts and a handful of those songs that obviously make out the studio bit of As The World Grits. What's truly astonishing about the whole deal is the impeccable level of overt musicality involved; they constantly go out on limbs either if feeding through densely written interplay or shifting suddenly from this onto freebase cells of improv. There's an outstanding feeling of self-assured determination and conviction to everything performed on this. What a terrific group!

    I keep thinking that if these were the kinds of backyards Steve F. was frequenting during his youth, no wonder the dedication and commitment he laid down throughout the years in search of both a living (I presume!) and a pursuit of that experience of fabulous seduction in tone/noise which is always sincere, always fresh and and definitely always individual/different/real. I know I'm grateful.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  22. #172
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    ^^^^^^^

    The backyard concerts were part of Random Radar / Muffins lore.

    Here is some relevant info from the booklet for Baker’s Dozen

    BACKYARD CONCERTS

    One thing that The Muffins had great success with was a series of free concerts in their backyard at the Buba Flirf house.

    BS: "We would have a mailing list at our gigs. People could sign up so that we would let them know whenever we were playing, and at some point, eventually, we decided, ‘Well, why don't we just put on concerts in our backyard?’ And so we had two summers of free concerts in the backyard with ourselves and all of our friends and all of the splinter groups that we knew were playing interesting music. So we had them come out to Gaithersburg, and we did our backyard concert series."

    Steve Feigenbaum: "We put on a concert every weekend for a while, which I believe was in July and August, sometimes on both Saturday and Sunday. Tom, did you help Billy build that stage?”

    TS: "Yeah. We built it together."

    A line-up of some of the backyard concert bands:
    Grits (old friends and contemporaries, mentors really—a little older than The Muffins, and who later had a Cuneiform release); Mars Everywhere (eventually a Random Radar band); Quadtratus Mink (Barney Jones); Illegal Aliens (a Muffins side band); Catch-a-Buzz Studios (Tom and Colleen's side project—Colleen played sitar); Snakey Licks; Off The Wall; Over The Edge (a free-jazz improv ensemble that The Muffins considered joining after they lost Stu Abramowitz and Michael Zentner and they were a trio); Abazaba (a power trio led by a guitarist who was reading the meter at the Muffin house one day and found out that they put on backyard concerts there); Imrahil; Ozone Musik; Clone; and Hold The Mustard.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  23. #173
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    More on Grits

    The backyard concert is them at their loosest and having fun. They did not usually stretch out as far on their material like that or for as long. And they definitely did not usually flat out improvise as they do on ‘As The World Grits’.

    It doesn’t really accurately reflect what a typical show by them was like, but it is still an extraordinarily good concert by them.

    PS - no one in Grits was aware of Canterbury style music at all.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  24. #174
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    PS - I completely disagree with Cutler re: Chronometers, although I love it plenty; they were a much better and more original band later. IMO

    He was mostly taken by the Wizard Of Oz bit…
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  25. #175
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Is there a recording of one of the Grits backyard concerts? Is that on one of the Grits CDs? Or you’re just reminiscing?
    Primary procreation is accomplished…

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