FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE
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– ONE SET (tracks 1-13) –
– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#43)
One of my favourite ways to hear an MMW gig open is with the Chanting of the Thundercloud Bros., the blessing. This opening track finds the trio bubbling up underneath the chant after a few minutes, exploring an extended intro of sorts to Church Logic — this is one my favourite COMBUSTICATION tracks, and it’s real nice live. The bassline is infectious, and when the Thunderclouds leave the stage and that bass and drums kick it, it’s perfect. The end of this creeps into Start/Stop, yet another tune enjoying a lengthy opening (and that’s fine by me). S/S is AWESOME any time, and the “Stop” sections go out there nicely, having breathed more and more room into those moments over the past year or so, making the “Start” sections, oh, so much sweeter when they hit …
Again, no stopping and the band moves smoothly into Tubby, which brightens the vibe a bit with the opening tunes leaning a little more to the darker side of the scale. A short Drums’n’Bass breakdown in the middle, Billy moves to his tambourine for a bit — damn he can play that thing! Tune wraps up with John and Logic jumping back in and into Sugar Craft, featuring DJ Logic a fair bit — they like to let him groove out on this number, leading the charge at times.
Next up is a beautiful take on Latin Shuffle, including the usual mid-tune Drum Solo, and moving into a Bass Solo out of the song’s ending … the band has loved this tune, seemingly, since its debut in spring ’97, and by this point in ’98 they can really dig deep on this one.
Billy takes a moment to welcome out THE FUNKY DRUMMER, Clyde Stubblefield! Clyde filled in for illyB earlier in the fall of ’98 on the Scofield A GO GO tour that also featured Medeski & Wood — Billy’s wife had just had a baby, so he couldn’t do the tour. Anyhoo, Clyde comes out to sit at the kit, Billy moves to some percussion (cowbell, talking drum), and the Stubblefield beat kicks in on what I’ve called a Toy Dancing Improv. Toy Dancing was new in ’98, and some renditions move closer to the song as we know it while a couple performances, like this one, kind of bend the Toy around a bit so the Dancing feels a little different. Nice breakdown c.5min with illyB & Clyde, then John, Chris, and Logic jump back in on the tune’s head and it fires to its finish — GROOVY SHIT, FOLKS! Billy celebrates Clyde one more time, and then the legend leaves the stage …
JLIPI is up next calming the vibe in the room a bit with its slinky bassline, but this will erupt soon enough in the mid-section of the tune when Chris lays it all out in his solo — GEESH! Also some stellar piano work from John here …
Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho gets the blood pumping again — Billy is so tight on this tune! And Logic again has room to maneuver, with he and illyB having some mid-track fun.
And then our MMW-related guitar hero of old (and forever!), Mr. Marc Ribot is invited out. Things start slow and meanderingly through some Open space before settling into the first known performance of music related to the tune Seven Deadlies, using its bassline while the rest of the guys on stage improvise around that. Later in Nov ’98 the band will use the bassline played during that Improv as a more firm beginning to, yet still incomplete, portion of the song we eventually come to know as Seven Deadlies, but during the late ’98-early ’99 period the performances are labelled as Seven Deadlies (Bridge) since it’s just that section of the tune they play during that time, before the more full version comes out in spring ’99 … mind you, the “structure” of the song is always shifting a bit, but by spring ’99 we’ve settled into more of what we know as Seven Deadlies.
C-Jam Blues sneaks out the end of the Seven Deadlies (Bridge) Improv, and we get to hear some sweet wacky blues playing from Ribot — sounds nice!
Spy Kiss busts out the end of that C-Jam Blues, building tension more and more, grooving hard, before exploding into the insanity of the “song”, Combustication! What a finish to the show! Everyone is just giving all they’ve got to this WALL OF SOUND and it’s, well, INSANE!
The No Ke Ano Ahiahi encore is perfect … Ribot’s guitar is always soooooo sweet during this tune, a perfect contrast to the HIGH ENERGY that closed the set, and should nicely take you into this Friday Afternoon In The Universe …
enjoy the grooves,