– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#8)
The Shack Project celebrates MMW @25 years!
This week’s pick actually contains a version of the song Friday Afternoon In The Universe — and it’s awesome! This whole gig is fantastic, one of the tops of ’99 for sure, and it’s just one long set …
– ONE SET –
As the guys are often prone to do, the set begins with some open space, but this quickly resolves into Going Home. This is a nice gentle groove that just keeps pulsing along with Chris carrying the melody — what happened to this song? Why didn’t they ever play this much? Is this an original or a cover tune? I’ve never been sure … I did some snooping and found songs called “Going Home” written/performed by Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Kenny G (!?), and numerous others that pre/post-date MMW’s original ’97 performance of the tune, but none of them really sound like it to me … I mean, we’re playing in blues-territory here, so maybe some of those are really all the same song-HA! Who knows! If *you* do, please speak up! Regardless, this is a great tune with some cool sections, and eventually simmers down a bit as John slides into the organ and we are served a hefty Philly Cheese Blunt rocking the usual gospel-groove. This Blunt actually expands out in slightly unusual way, taking a minor twist just before 5min, so you can really feel the hit – nice! Then things quiet down a bit as Chris pumps out that line, John drops out, and just Billy and Chris give us some further Philly news riding out the ending, unusually, with a Bass’n’Drums outro.
Afrique follows with John jumping right in on the end of Philly Cheese — just listen! The way this tune works and the way MMW manipulate that structure is sublime.
Tsukemono (literally “pickled things”) is one of the wild tunes I love off The Dropper album. When you listen to each guy separately the song just makes no sense — more so than the usual result this exercise might exhibit about any song and its musicians. It seems Chris and Billy share holding down the song proper for the most part, with John interweaving and sprinkling onto their base with the piano and the, what is that? Is that the mellotron he wields at times with those crazy symphonic fills? I think so … whatever it is, that coupled with John’s usual tearing apart of the ivories yields a VERY intense pickling session, which is boiled down to a short Piano Solo accompanied by some Bowed Bass that leads us into Seven Deadlies, so John’s sticking on piano for a while more.
It’s occurring to me right now that Seven Deadlies is similar in structure and attack to the older tune Oscillation, yielding far different results. Both tunes build an intensive groove the boils over until the band seemingly falls apart, and then they start putting it back together again. Oscillation is soothing in this exercise; Seven Deadlies is nerve-rattling and anxiety inducing — why do I like this? HA!
A short drum beat carries us over into a Coconut Boogaloo which doesn’t boogy too long before Ancora slides in — oh, I LOVE this tune! I could Ancora everyday, all day … Ancora’s vibe is so wicked good — could listen to this over and over … and it slides into Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho to get our butts movin’ again!
Night Marchers busts out the end of HHHH, Logic joins, and the next 30min+ is just nasty! The Marchers take us into one of the weirdest versions you’ll ever hear of Where’s Sly? — like, where is he? Because this version is almost unrecognizable at times, but Sly’s there!
The wacky vibe continues as the band moves into the track bearing our series title, Friday Afternoon In the Universe — it’s nice this isn’t played often, but when it is it’s SO NICE to hear! I love how the song drifts in/out from the melody to open space and back … one of my favourite MMW compositions, hands down (This share is for you Mike V! (aka shackaholic)). Just when you think they’ve broken out into free space, the universe circles us back around to Friday’s groove … so nice …
Then listen to The Lover — what’s John doing in there in the opening? Cool sounds! (Or is that Logic??) A Bass Solo erupts out the end of The Lover and bridges us to the set’s closing tune, Chubb Sub, which is always a cool rockin’ closer.
The gospel beauty of MMW’s take on Hendrix’s Hey Joe is played the Encore, easy us out at the end of the night with a peaceful vibe …
enjoy the grooves,
MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD w/ DJ Logic
House Of Blues, Myrtle Beach, SC
Sunday, November 14, 1999
One Set: Open Improv > Going Home > Philly Cheese Blunt > Bass’n’Drums outro, Afrique, Tsukemono > Piano Solo w/ Bowed Bass > Seven Deadlies > Drum Solo > Coconut Boogaloo > Ancora > Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho > Night Marchers# > Where’s Sly?# > Friday Afternoon In The Universe# > The Lover# > Bass Solo > Chubb Sub#
Encore: Hey JoeOne Set Only
# w/ DJ Logic