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Surviving the Crisis

Toon Traveller, marooned at home, travels back through his record collection

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by Toon Traveller, Travel Correspondent for outsideleft.com
A joyous frantic frenetic, piece of rock, soul, gospel

I’m one of those lucky folks, runny nose, phlegmatic cough, occasional sneeze, wake in the night coughing fit, back to sleep, and up, tired and lethargic. So I am surprised that this rapidly developing health crisis has shocked me, who’da thought.  Instead of my usual business of say, writing about a 1970’s pop chart, planning another trip… I’m sat here anxious and aware of mortality, changes, and wondering what’s permanent. Or gone never to return.

One of my friends sent me a joke text;

“The Clocks go forward next month not too sure how far, 4 months might do” yeah that sounds attractive, a sort of Rip Van Winkle escape. But given the choice,  I’d rather go back 4 months...

Order test kits, 
Test infected, 
Trace contacts and Isolate, 
Order ventilators, 
Issue rationing cards,
Gradually close industry and redeploy people to much needed services. 
And… and… and,  we all have hindsight’s gifts.   

A second text, celebrating the secession of soap opera recording, silent applause from me, then a recognition; not my pleasure, hundreds of thousands, isolated long before the ‘14 day isolation’ this pleasure, certainty and interaction, gave their lives a stable anchor, a realisation...

It’s all too easy to be critical, sarcastic, and perhaps worse, to continue with our ‘cultural pejoratives’, condescending of others’ delights.  Forgetting at times of despair, fear, and depression that many will slip into. These certainties - TV Soaps, music, sports... give certainty in dark times. I realised the lack of respect for others, the recognition of differences, and belief in self, self, self, as personified. The toilet roll wars were the same vinegar in different bottles . It’s made me think about how we respect each other, and the pleasure and delights each of us has. 

Ramblingly composing this reminded me of, a brief chat with a friend Y, her bemoaning the cancelled Eurovision, me slightly sarcastic about the whole event, me patronising, it’s her pleasure, no harsh words, no real argument, but, phone off again cultural prejudice. It got me to thinking with time on our hands, time to explore.

Exploration? No travel, no inter genre festivals, no festivals in distant places, Austin, Texas, Essaouira, Morocco,  Holy Island, England, no village gatherings, town festivals, and pub-folk, club-jazz, punk one-dayers. So how to explore, you can always ‘solo it’ and get lost, dispirited and give up, sitting where you are unwilling to choose and change and make new discoveries. 

I’ve  playing my way through a vinyl and CD Collection, no artist or track skipping... A test for me when I reach, ‘When the Levee Breaks’ from Led Zepplin’s 4th Album, that dull thud but that may have been decades ago what will it be now? So, do I play and risk rediscovery a forgotten classic?

To this end I’m playing albums not heard in years, maddening discoveries now, have my tastes changed? I’ll try to put a couple of discoveries a week that may inspire, open, close minds, or just stroke and amuse. 

First up:- - it’s Jazz Jim, but not as we know it;
Archie Shepp, saxophone , playwright, early life follower of  John Coltrane, mixing rhythm, blues, melody, moving on to parodies of popular songs, blowing at once, same song different tunes, same rhythm different timings. Alternate blowing, playing, strumming,  with African, American, Blues, Classical musicians. Love, abstract sounds, hammering of drums, cymbals crash, wood winds swoosh, razor guitars, fast, slow discordant playing, yeup, he had all the “I hate jazz” characteristics we all love to love, and put Jazz down for. 

But here’s the thing -  there is joy in this jazz, for that listen to 
Archie Shepp – ‘Atticca Blues’  1st track on Album of the same name, Impulse CD MVCI 23038:-
A joyous frantic frenetic, piece of rock, soul, gospel, new Orleans big band marches. Funky guitar opening, gospel vocals, it could be Curtis Mayfield, It could be Issac Hayes, it could be Temptation‘s Papa was a Rolling Stone, it’s all in there. Joyous celebrations, Stax Soul screaming,  a wonderful explosion of sound and elation leaps from loudspeakers, your shoulders sways , feet shuffle, dance if you want. Never heard in a diso, it belongs in a 70’s soul show. A party track? Gawd it would be a hell of a party when this blasted out over the heads and larger cans, an amazing piece of music that is utterly exuberant.

The rest of the Album, what you’d expect, big band pastiches, disembodied vocals, harsh laser cymbals, searing, soft, horn notes, giving John McLaughlin a run for his guitar strings, 70’s rhythms, strident horns swirling, wedding confetti notes, cigarette smoke’s drift, a set’s last song floating on air. Yeup a real mix of an album. BUT nothing to match the opening track. I love the album’s romance, it’s poignant sadness, it’s mix, BUT the title track, a great sound attack on depression,  full of hope. Antidote to fear and greed. Seeping, Dry Ice over the life’s stage in these light dimming pleasure sapping months.

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Toon Traveller
Travel Correspondent

Born - happy family, school great mates still see 7 / 8 in year, degreed, beer n fun, work was lazy but usually happy, retired. Learning from mum and dads travel exploits.

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