Cubist blues is considered as one of the best recordings Alan Vega ever did
this collaboration involving threeÂ great talentsâ€”Alan Vega, Alex Chilton and Ben Vaughn Â falls into the latter category.
The trio decided to spend 2 nights in a recordingÂ studio and just follow their instincts, their inspiration, and combine the experience they acquiredÂ during their impressive careers,creating a surprising and amazing result.
This year a special reissue of the album is coming our way with the help of two big companies.
After Alex, Alan and Ben’s Cubist BluesÂ critically acclaimed release,Â there was a huge demand for concerts. Unfortunately, it wasÂ impossible to have all 3 busy guys available on the same day. ActuallyÂ the trioÂ did do a show which was recorded butÂ never released and the album was lost to time. Most of the tracks have been floating around the internet since, from diehards of their respective bands. Timeless and groundbreaking even now is the soundÂ , this is a chance to hear aÂ hot overlooked album thatâ€“had it been marketedâ€“might have re-shaped the next decade of music.Â Here it is, at last to be heard again just like the first time, Light In The Attic and Munster Records are giving the album a proper reissue for what theyâ€™re calling the Cubist Blues Archival SeriesÂ which will be release in December.
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InÂ the autumn of 1994, the singer Alan Vega, of the punk duo Suicide, was working on a new album at a recording studio in downtown Manhattan, near City Hall, called Dessau. The musician and producer Ben Vaughn telephoned Vega to say that he was going to be in New York soon and was interested in getting together to play â€œblues music.â€ Vega invited him over. Vaughn mentioned his plans to Alex Chilton, the singer and guitarist of the power-pop band Big Star. Chilton wanted in, too.
Vaughn and Chilton started hustling up instruments: a guitar, a bass, a drum machine, a synthesizer. An upright piano and a drum kit were already in the room. Vega sketched some lyrics on that morningâ€™s copy of the New York Post. (He also added a pair of spectacles and a devil goatee to a press photograph of Ramon Cortines, then the chancellor of New York City public schools.) The trio spent the nights of December 6th and 7th making jittery, improvised art-rock. Vegaâ€™s vocals are pliable, belligerentâ€”itâ€™s often hard to decipher precisely what he is saying. On â€œCome On Lord,â€ he moans something like â€œMmmm-eee-yi-yi-mmmm / I want / To be right / For a change,â€ before chanting â€œCome on, Lord!â€ exactly twenty-one times.
Oh, the late-night jam session: that quixotic event marked by interminable noodling and sustained by ego, joy, and the consumption of lukewarm beers. Anyone who has taken to buddying around with musicians has likely grimaced through a couple of these. (â€œYes, precious sirs, this tuneless journey we are onâ€”it is sublime! I am sorry that I have an early meeting!â€) Yet the jam session can often be the shortest path toward a shared visionary moment. These musical expeditions are not intended to placate or arouse philistine spectators. Theyâ€™re about musicians working something out, developing and nurturing ideas using a common language. From that: beauty.
It was unseasonably warm in the city that December. Vega, Chilton, and Vaughn decided to make an album. Drew Vogelman, an engineer and the owner of the studio, occupied the boards and pressed â€œrecord.â€ Later this fall, Light in the Attic, a record label based in Seattle, will reissue â€œCubist Blues,â€ a curated twelve-song recording of the Vega-Chilton-Vaughn session, on CD and LP. Here, â€œreissueâ€ implies the commercial revival of a long-out-of-print record, although the term is also used to describe old albums that are not, in fact, functionally extinct but are merely being repackaged for new fans.
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â€œThereâ€™s a hunger for retrospection that ultimately has to do with the immediacy of the archive these daysâ€”the ease with which these kinds of transactions take place,â€ Greaves said. â€œYou can find many, many records, famous and otherwise, online. Weâ€™re in this strange position where the past is more immediately accessible to us than ever, but our attention spans are lackingâ€”we donâ€™t understand or process the past in any more meaningful ways than before.â€
For Smith and Greaves, the presentation (and subsequent recontextualization) of the material is an essential corrective. â€œYou really have to think about all that,â€ Smith said. â€œWhatâ€™s the â€˜reâ€™ youâ€™re putting it front of it, and why? But we come from the folklore world. Thatâ€™s our niche. We try to make folklore out of these things; we want to perpetuate a continuum. Thatâ€™s how we look at our reissues: as boosters.â€
There is also the complicated question of taste and utilityâ€”and divining the sweet spot where the two overlap. â€œFor every dozen records that were wrongfully overlooked, there are thousands of others that were overlooked for a reason,â€ Greaves said. â€œThereâ€™s a law of diminishing returns at some point, and part of me feels weâ€™re reaching critical mass for reissue culture. Sometimes you look at recent reissues and think, â€˜Why bother with that?â€™ â€
Thereâ€™s the hope: that a label might encounter a release like â€œCubist Bluesâ€â€”a minor work by all accountsâ€”and recognize the ways in which it might satiate new, modern hungers for, say, extemporaneous emoting, while remaining savvy enough to disregard the records that do less. â€œThe future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone,â€ Milan Kundera wrote in 1979, in â€œThe Book of Laughter and Forgetting,â€ a beautiful novel largely about remembrance and commemoration. He was almost certainly right.
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