386

Allen Ginsberg: First Blues

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Allen Ginsberg: First Blues As I listen to this two-CD recording by the late Allen Ginsberg, I cannot help thinking about Dick Cheney. The American vice president might just be the exact polar opposite of Allen Ginsberg, kind of a beat Dr. Evil. I suspect he's never heard Ginsberg read his unexpurgated Buddhist poetry or joined a sing-along with his harmonium. But then again, who knows what Cheney does in his bunker. He might be learning the lyrics to "Everybody Sing"—"everybody is just a little bit homosexual, whether they like it or not.

The famous poet was nearly beatified before his death in 1997. His recordings have included poetry readings, of course, but also song. His most easily accessible release would be The Lion For Real (Great Jones, 1989), a Hal Willner-produced session with jazz artists Marc Ribot, Arto Lindsay and Bill Frisell. He also recorded with Philip Glass, Paul McCartney and The Clash.

First Blues, a reissue of a long out-of-print LP, revives these sessions from 1971 (with Bob Dylan and Anne Waldman), 1976 (with famous producer John Hammond) and 1981. Ginsberg's naked voice is quite honest. Like his poetry, he can strip a lyric to plain meaning, whether he speaks about war, corporate greed or sex with young men. Like the late recordings of John Lennon, pretensions are dropped. How else can you sing about dildos and eternity?

File these sessions as Ginsberg unplugged, covering tunes he is famous for: "Father Death Blues, "Vomit Express (Going To Puerto Rico), and "CIA Dope Calypso. Raw, funny and beautiful, his life and his karma endures in this music. I don't know if we should miss him in these troubled times or we should be happy he doesn't have to endure them.


Track Listing: CD1: Going To San Diego; Vomit Express; Jimmy Berman (Gay Lib Rag); NY Youth Call Annunciation; CIA Dope Calypso; Put Down Yr Cigarette Rag; Sickness Blues; Broken Bone Blues; Stay Away From White House; Hard-On Blues; Guru Blues. CD2: Everybody Sing; Gospel Nobel Truths; Bus Ride Ballad To Suva; Prayer Blues - 1972; Love Forgiven; Father Death Blues; Dope Fiend Blues Tyger; You Are My Dildo; Old Pond; No Reason; My Pretty Rode Tree; Capitol Air.

Personnel: Allen Ginsberg: vocals, harmonium, finger cymbals, song sticks; David Amram: French horn, flute, recorder, piano, hi-hat; Perry Robinson: clarinet, Bob Dylan: guitar; Happy Traum: banjo; Jon Sholle: guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele, harmonizer, maracas, drums; Surya: zither; Moruga: drums; Arthur Russell: cello, tambourine; David Mansfield: mandolin, bass guitar, pedal steel guitar, violin; Stephen Taylor: recorder, guitar, conga; Peter Orlovsky: vocals.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Water | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Live At Blues Alley" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Blues Alley
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 4, 2016
Read "Choice" CD/LP/Track Review Choice
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 9, 2016
Read "Les Deux Versants Se Regardent" CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "Resiliency" CD/LP/Track Review Resiliency
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!