One of French rock music's most innovative and eclectic musical ensembles, the eight member group Magma whose style is their own unique brand of progressive-rock, will be making a brief North American tour over the next two weeks with only eight select dates scheduled (including two in California dates: LA's Echoplex on Monday, April 6th and Slim's in SF on Wednesday, April 8th). Their upcoming tour that kicks off at Venue in Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, April 2nd.
The longtime group, who were founded by main member Christian Vander four and a half decades ago upon inspiration from a "vision of humanity’s spiritual and ecological future," stand apart from every other band (not just in France but everywhere) due to their unique musical sound and the fact that they crafted their very own language.
WFMU radio's DJ Trouble, who plays a lot of French musical acts on her weekly show, has been a big fan of Magma's for many years and will be attending their upcoming tour's closing date at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City on April 13th. I asked the DJ what exactly it is that she likes so much about Magma? "They're a wild French band that includes a former Yé-yé girl," she said, adding "And they've made up an extra terrestrial language and "origin" story. Oh and they make crazy prog-ish sounds! What's not to love?" Another major fan of the band is Amoeba owner Marc Weinstein whom I asked what it is that has long attracted him to Magma. "They are unlike anything else. They created their own universe and you literally have to enter their universe to appreciate their music," said Weinstein, noting how Magma founder Christian Vander's intense interest in music by Stravinsky and Coltrane helped shape the band's eclectic, adventurous progressive sound.
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Born on this day: March 30, 1945 - Rock guitar icon Eric Clapton (born Eric Patrick Clapton in Ripley, Surrey, UK). Happy 70th Birthday, Slowhand!
On this day in music history: March 30, 1963 - "He's So Fine" by The Chiffons hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for four weeks on April 6, 1963. Written by Ronnie Mack, it is the debut single and biggest for the female R&B/Pop vocal quartet from New York City. Originally consisting of group members Judy Craig, Patricia Bennett, and Barbara Lee, The Chiffons are formed in 1960 while all are students at James Monroe High School in the Bronx. In 1962, the girls will meet songwriter Ronnie Mack who will become their manager and suggest that they add 14-year-old Sylvia Peterson to the group, making them a quartet. Mack will write "He's So Fine" for the group as their first single. While Mack tries to secure a record deal for The Chiffons, the song will attract the attention of music publisher Bright Tunes run by Phil Margo, Mitch Margo, Jay Siegal, and Hank Medress, better known as The Tokens ("The Lion Sleeps "). They love the song and offer to produce them, as they have a production deal for Capitol Records. Having already exhausted their production budget, The Tokens will take The Chiffons into a small demo studio to record "He's So Fine." After the track is completed, they will play it for Capitol Records president Voyle Gilmore, who will reject the song as being "too simple and too trite." The group will shop the song around and be rejected by more than a dozen record labels before it is picked up by Laurie Records in New York. Released in December of 1962, the song will initially get off to a slow start, but will eventually catch on. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on February 23, 1963, it will leap to the top of the chart five weeks later. Sadly, songwriter Ronnie Mack will not have long to enjoy his newly found success. Shortly after the song reaches number one, he will be diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease and succumb to the illness just a few months later at the age of 23. The Chiffons will score further hits with the Carole King and Gerry Goffin penned "One Fine Day" (#5 Pop, #6 R&B) and "Sweet Talkin' Guy" (#10 Pop). "He's So Fine" will later become the subject of a lawsuit between Bright Tunes Publishing and former Beatle George Harrison when the publisher accuses him of plagiarizing "He's So Fine" for his number one single "My Sweet Lord." The lawsuit will drag on for years before it is finally settled. George Harrison's estate will purchase the publishing rights to "He's So Fine" and hold the copyright to this day. In a small bit of irony, The Chiffons will cover "My Sweet Lord" in the mid '70s, though it will not be a hit.
Among the brand new releases to arrive at Amoeba this past week is Words Paint Pictures by Rapper Big Pooh care of Mello Music Group who continue their flawless streak of releasing hip-hop that matters amidst so much pablum out there. This nine-track release features a bunch of collaborators including Ras Kass, Erik Blakk Soul Keith, Marv One, Apollo Brown (who did production for the lead single "Augmentation") and super producer L'Orange (who does a remix of "Augmentation").
Fellow fans of L'Orange, who I am a major fan of and last interviewed here on the Amoeblog in May of 2014 when he dropped his amazing Orchid Days, will rejoice to know that he is soon to unleash another album. Unlike Orchid Days when he paired up with various emcees, he will collaborate with just one mic wrecker this time, the Chicago wordsmith Jeremiah Jae (who many may know from the Dirty Collections 7" single series he has released via Warp Records) with whom L'Orange recorded the upcoming The Night Took Us In Like Family that will be arriving in Amoeba on April 21st.
Damaged Bug – “The Mirror”
John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees has another solo album due as Damaged Bug, his synthy alter ego. “The Mirror” creeps and buzzes around on an analog groove, getting under your skin like a mosquito without you realizing it. Cold Hot Plumbs is due June 1 on his label, Castle Face (following last year’s Hubba Bubba). Hear it over at Pitchfork. And check out that sick album art!
tUnE-yArDs – “Wait for a Minute” video
The Bay Area’s Merrill Garbus is back with a new video from last year’s great Nikki Nack album. Directed by SNEAL, there’s a lot going on, as you might expect from hearing Garbus’ dense synth-pop, layering images over one another in a kind of public access video meltdown. Watch below via Stereogum.