It remains to be seen if we’ll actually get a sophomore album from the collaboration between Scott “Wino” Weinrich and German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs. The Exile on Mainstream labelmates released their debut, Heavy Kingdom(review here), in 2012 and celebrated with a fair amount of touring as a duo in Europe and North America, and they did answer Heavy Kingdomquickly with the Latitudes session, Labour of Love, but a good portion of that was cover material and the mission seemed more about enjoying playing together than actually furthering the writing partnership creatively. Not to take away from that release, since among other things it boasts the only to-date recorded version of Wino & Conny Ochs doing Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young‘s “Find the Cost of Freedom,” and that’s worth the price of admission alone. Still, a second record has proved elusive.
Among the trove of video from those tours, however, there are glimpses of material other than that which was included on Heavy Kingdomor Labour of Love, and whether it was a cut written subsequently, or something pulled from either’s solo catalog, there’s plenty of it taped out there — Wino & Conny Ochs probably makes a relatively easy set to capture, as they’re not likely to blow out the volume on whatever recorder might be used — and it’s from that vast and disorganized archive that “Angels and Demons” comes. Snagged in HD on that European tour in the Czech Republic (I believe) on May 3, 2012, the track originally appeared on Ochs‘ 2012 long-player, Raw Love Songs, and sure enough, he takes the lead on it. Wino adds a bit of ambience to the start, but the track really comes alive later when the two of them lock into a part that, considering it was written before they started collaborating, only emphasizes how fitting a pair they make.
The Hidden Hand happened at a pretty interesting juncture for American heavy, just when underground riff-worship was really starting to get a foothold in a wider public consciousness beyond what it had been in the days before the widespread instant-gratification of the internet became a way to access just about anyone’s music anytime. Their second album, the stellar Mother Teacher Destroyer, certainly got some attention when it was issued by Southern Lord in 2004 — helped perhaps by the publicity of Dave Grohl‘s Probot project, released that same year, and Wino‘s visible involvement in that on guitar and vocals — but the preceding full-length debut, 2003′s Divine Propaganda, had no such high-profile lead-in. Not to shoehorn it into too convenient a narrative, but it was simply Wino‘s new band after Spirit Caravan broke up.
Listening back now, over a decade later and in light of the two albums The Hidden Hand released after it, Divine Propagandais a standout if somewhat uneven release. Issued by MeteorCity, it was the first studio output from Wino, bassist/vocalist Bruce Falkinburg and drummer Dave Hennessy, and it introduced a lot of the Illuminati/conspiracy/socio-political framework in which a good portion of the band’s lyrics would work for the duration of their tenure, but thanks in no small part to the Weinrich/Falkinburg collaboration in the songwriting, it also pushed into territory that was neither The Obsessed-style doom nor the freewheeling heavy rock of Spirit Caravan. There was something else going on, and that’s evident on Divine Propaganda, even if the trio were still figuring out what they wanted their sound to be and what shape that collaboration would take.
In all honesty, “The Last Tree” — track seven of the record’s total 10 — probably could’ve been a Spirit Caravan song with its rolling groove of a chorus riff, but as the verse shows, The Hidden Hand were already becoming something distinct, and the fuzz that Falkinburg puts on his bass in the track is not to be missed. It’s something of a forgotten gem from the largely underappreciated band, whose timing and whose songwriting continue to intrigue.
I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. The Spirit Caravan reunion tour is almost two weeks deep into its month-plus run and video has started to surface of the trio of bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich and drummer Henry Vasquez – who came into the lineup late as a replacement for original member Gary Isom. I expect this won’t be the last time new Spirit Caravan footage is featured on Wino Wednesday, but if you have to start somewhere, the beginning seems like as good a place as any, and that takes us to the Metro Gallery in Baltimore on March 7.
Excitement is high at the start of “Dreamwheel” as Wino introduces the three-piece and succinctly puts it, “The past is the past. Right now. Right here. Spirit Caravan.” And while it’s also true that those who saw the band during their original tenure and with their founding lineup will continue to have something over those who didn’t, it’s a fair enough perspective for Spirit Caravan to project, since much of their vibe has always been rooted in at least an outward positivity. It’s also factually accurate. This is what Spirit Caravan are now. To his credit, Vasquez adapts as fluidly to Isom‘s parts as he did to those of Armando Acosta when he replaced him in Saint Vitus back in 2009. Word has been dropped of a new Spirit Caravan full-length, and presumably that would include Vasquez as well.
This clip of “Dreamwheel” — taken from the 1999 EP of the same name — is the first I’ve seen from the tour, but like I said, I imagine there’s plenty more to come as the next several weeks of shows play out. I’ll keep my eye out as ever, and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy “Dreamwheel” from the Metro Gallery and have an excellent Wino Wednesday:
Spirit Caravan, “Dreamwheel” Live at Metro Gallery, Baltimore, March 7, 2014
Kind of hard to believe it’s been five years already since Saint Vitus got going again. But it has. It was April 2009 that the Wino-fronted lineup of the ultra-seminal doom four-piece arrived on stage at the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and began the reunion that would lead to numerous North American and European tours since and the band’s first album in 17 years, 2012′s Lillie: F-65 (review here) on Season of Mist, for which a follow-up is reportedly in the works. They were celebrating 30 years at the time since Dave Chandler, Mark Adams and Armando Acosta founded the band as Tyrant in 1979 (then-vocalist Scott Reagers was obviously absent). In May, they’ve announced, they’ll embark on a West Coast run to celebrate their 35th anniversary playing 1986′s landmark Born too Latealbum in full.
Granted, at the average Vitus show — and yes, I do realize how fortunate I am to be able to speak of seeing them on “average” terms — you’re sure to hear the Born too Late title-track, usually in the encore, plus the speedier “Clear Windowpane,” and alcohol-induced “Dying Inside,” but side B tracks like “H.A.A.G.,” “The Lost Feeling” and “The War Starter” are rarer finds, so the chance to hear the whole thing front to back is something special to mark a worthy occasion. Vitus will be joined by emergent Portland, Oregon, rockers Sons of Huns, whom I was fortunate enough to catch recently at Hawthorne Theatre in their hometown (review here), for the tour which starts May 8 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and runs until it hits Dallas on May 25.
To celebrate the celebration, it seemed fitting to dip back to where this reunion started, to that reunion gig on the Main Stage at Roadburn 2009. If I’m not mistaken, they played a warmup show in New Orleans prior to leaving for Europe, but still, this was their official return, and they haven’t looked back since. The clip below of “Born too Late” is a little blown out and cuts off at the end — high definition-quality video recording was not as ubiquitous half a decade ago as it seems to be now, though I still can’t seem to manage it — but it should be enough to give some idea of how triumphant a return that of Saint Vitus was, and just how powerful they were when they took that stage.
Saint Vitus, “Born too Late” Live at Roadburn 2009
SAINT VITUS: Legendary Doom Metal Icons Announce Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Tour
Legendary doom metal icons, SAINT VITUS, are pleased to announce a very special run of live rituals to celebrate their astounding thirty-fifth anniversary! Sponsored by Scion AV, the tour will commence on May 8th in Albuquerque and wind its way through fifteen cities, coming to a close on May 25th in Dallas. The band will be performing the planet-rumbling Born Too Late album — the first SAINT VITUS outing to feature the imperious voice of Scott “Wino” Weinrich — in its entirety alongside other renowned VITUS hymns. The band will be joined by Portland stoner rock power trio Sons Of Huns, supporting their recently released Banishment Ritual full-length on EasyRider Records. Comments the band of their coveted spot on the tour, “We can’t be any more stoked to support one of the finest purveyors of doom and crush many cities in our wake!” Tickets go on sale Friday, March 14th.
Starting April 1st, Scion AV will be giving away two pairs of tickets to every club show via Twitter. Seewww.scionav.comfor details.
SAINT VITUS w/ Sons Of Huns 5/08/2014 Launch Pad – Albuquerque, NM 5/09/2014 Club Red – Phoenix, AZ 5/10/2014 Cheyenne Saloon – Las Vegas, NV 5/11/2014 The Observatory (Psycho De Mayo Fest) – Santa Ana, CA 5/13/2014 The Echo – Los Angeles, CA 5/14/2014 SLO Brew – San Luis Obispo, CA 5/15/2014 Strummer’s – Fresno, CA 5/16/2014 Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA 5/17/2014 Branx – Portland, OR 5/18/2014 Highline – Seattle, WA 5/20/2014 In The Venue – Salt Lake City, UT 5/21/2014 Marquis Theatre – Denver, CO 5/23/2014 Red 7 (Outside) – Austin, TX 5/24/2014 Fitzgerald’s Downstairs – Houston, TX 5/25/2014 Three Links – Dallas, TX
SAINT VITUS: Dave Chandler – guitar Scott Weinrich – vocals Mark Adams – bass Henry Vasquez – drums
As the Spirit Caravan reunion gets underway with US touring starting this week (and a bit of drama bringing drummer Henry Vasquez in to replace Gary Isom), I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at the beginnings of Wino‘s previous reunion with The Obsessed. The three-piece was Wino‘s first band, formed as Warhorse in 1976, and seems to be a place to which the guitarist/vocalist has returned periodically throughout his career, having ended their original run around the time he joined Saint Vitus and then picked back up when he left after 1990′s V, only to put The Obsessed back to bed prior to starting Spirit Caravan. I don’t think it’s inappropriate to think of The Obsessed as a kind of thread running through Wino‘s progression, and even though the latest reunion hasn’t produced any studio material as of now, the fact that he got the band together again after performing acoustically for a few years, doing the Saint Vitus reunion and collaborating with Conny Ochs speaks to a kind of getting in touch with his sonic roots.
Because that’s what The Obsessed seems most to be: Roots doom. The songs are stripped-down and simple in their structure, Sabbathian in their stride with some flourish of Motörhead to coincide, and offer little by way of fluctuation or deviation from their downtrodden mood. Listening to an album like 1994′s The Church Withinisn’t always easy. It’s a slog to get through the 13 tracks of that record sometimes, because as much as tracks like “Streetside,” “Blind Lightning,” “Neatz Brigade” and “Field of Hours” are career high points for the band, most of the back half is a misery show, plain and simple, and after a while that kind of downer gets hard to take. Watching The Obsessed live at Roadburn 2012 was a different experience, however, and it was plain to see how much more the character of the tracks came out on stage than on record. Joined by bassist Guy Pinhas (who’d soon be replaced by Reid Raley) and drummer Greg Rogers, Wino was definitely in his element throughout the set, and it’s easy to see from the clip of “Blind Lightning” below just how at home he is in these riffs.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
What was to be one of the year’s most anticipated tours, the reunion of Spirit Caravan, took a hit over the weekend with the departure of drummer Gary Isom. Isom, one of the three original members of the band alongside guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, announced his departure abruptly and just a week before the legendary trio were due to set off on their return US tour alongside doom upstarts Pilgrim, prior to heading to Europe for headlining appearances at Desertfest in Berlin and London. In his statement, Isom made it clear that it was Wino with whom there was apparently persistent friction, as opposed to Sherman, with whom he still plays in Weed is Weed:
Due to situations far beyond my control. I will not be sharing the stage with spirit caravan. any hopes of the fans seeing the original lineup of the band are all but gone.I tried my very best to resolve issues in a very calm and peaceful way and was met with extreme anger beyond reality.I, like a lot of people were looking forward to seeing this once shining example of positivity and friendship thru music ride again. me and sherman have been best friends for 24 years and remain so to this day.it doesn’t matter who wino gets to replace me. the band will never sound the same….. II tried my best.
One might recall that in The Obsessed‘s recent reunion, bassist Reid Raley (Rwake) took the place of Guy Pinhas, so I guess that’s just how it goes. While it’s unfortunate that Isom won’t be involved in the tour, and his departure doesn’t do much for the prospect of a new album, it’s been announced somewhat quietly that the shows will go on and that Henry Vasquez will fill in on drums. Vasquez is of course the drummer of Saint Vitus who came aboard in 2009 in the spot formerly occupied by founding drummer Armando Acosta, and as the leader of Blood of the Sun as well, he lacks nothing for either heavy rock chops or experience. Isom is probably right that it won’t sound the same as it would if he was playing, but it looks like it’s going to be as close as we’ll get.
Spirit Caravan on tour with Pilgrim:
03/07/2014 Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD
03/08/2014 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
03/09/2014 Chop Shop – Charlotte, NC
03/10/2014 Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta, GA
03/15/2014 SXSW – Austin, TX
03/17/2014 Launchpad – Albuquerque, NM
03/18/2014 Cheyenne Saloon – Las Vegas, NV
03/19/2014 Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA
03/21/2014 Rotture – Portland, OR
03/22/2014 El Corazon – Seattle, WA
03/24/2014 The Shredder – Boise, ID
03/25/2014 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT
03/27/2014 Marquis Theater – Denver, CO
03/29/2014 Reggies – Chicago, IL
03/30/2014 Cactus Club – Milwaukee, WI
03/31/2014 The Fifth Quarter – Indianapolis, IN
04/01/2014 Outland Ballroom – Springfield, MO
04/02/2014 Rock Island Brewing – Rock Island, IL
04/03/2014 Fubar – St. Louis, MO
04/04/2014 Hi Tone – Memphis, TN
04/05/2014 V Club – Huntington, WV
04/06/2014 Hideaway – Johnson City, TN
04/08/2014 Pyramid Scheme – Grand Rapids, MI
04/09/2014 Skully’s – Columbus ,OH
04/12/2014 31st St Pub – Pittsburgh, PA
04/13/2014 Empire – Springfield, VA
04/14/2014 AS220 – Providence, RI
04/15/2014 Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn NY
The story of the short-lived Wino trio fronted by guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich and featuring Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and bassist Jon Blank, who passed away after the band’s return from their European tour, effectively ending the project, is pretty well known and I don’t think it really needs to be rehashed at this point. Blank‘s death is something of a stigma that rests over that band’s otherwise glorious 2009 debut, Punctuated Equilibrium, and of course the subsequent Live at Roadburn 2009live record released in 2010 in his memory. Listening to that album or watching a video like this one, filmed in Prague on April 20 of that year, it becomes all the more apparent how much of a loss Blank was and how much potential the Wino trio had for moving on creatively after their first album. With Wino and Gaster driving the jams and Blank adding solid, dynamic rhythms, there was a chemistry beginning to solidify.
And I guess it’s precisely because the spectre of Blank‘s passing would always be looming that, to date, the Wino trio hasn’t done anything else. With Saint Vitus, The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan having reunited, I wouldn’t necessarily write off Weinrich and Gaster getting together again at some future point, but it hardly seems likely anytime in the near future. Still, their live sets were like a mixtape from Weinrich‘s catalog, and hearing Gaster play cuts by The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan in addition to the Punctuated Equilibriumtracks brought that material into the Wino fold with a different and refreshed feel, not quite like anything else Weinrich had done before.
So, with the usual caveat to celebrate what was and what could’ve been, here’s the full half-hour set recorded by the Wino trio on their Spring 2009 European tour. Enjoy and have a happy Wino Wednesday:
There’s a fair amount of The Obsessed demo material floating around the limitless disorganization of the internet, but this version of “Fear’s Machine,” said to be taken from a 1992 rehearsal, is something I hadn’t yet encountered. “Fear’s Machine” was never on a The Obsessed studio album, though it was included on the 2004 reissue of 1999′s Southern Lord CD/2LP compilation, Incarnate, along with “Field of Hours,” “Climate of Despair” and “Decimation,” but it wouldn’t make a proper appearance on a studio album until Spirit Caravan recorded it for 1999′s Jug Fulla Sundebut. Seven years isn’t the longest a song has ever waited to come out, but it’s a considerable stretch anyway, and the demo proves to be much different than the finished product.
Part of that has to be due to the lineup. It’s certainly Scott “Wino” Weinrich on guitar and vocals and Greg Rogers on drums, who was with The Obsessed from the reunion in 1991 until they again disbanded in ’95, but I’m not sure who’s on bass. If this track is indeed from 1992, then it could either be Guy Pinhas or Scott Reeder. Granted, Reeder went on to join Kyuss that year shortly after the seminal desert rockers released Blues for the Red Sun, but he played in 1991′s Lunar Womband I guess what’s not clear is if “Fear’s Machine” was recorded before or after he left and Pinhas joined [the Incarnateliner notes might be able to clear this up, but my CD is in a box from last year's move]. The info for the video cites it as the “new lineup at the time.” Well, The Obsessed had only been kicking around again for a year or so. Wasn’t it a new lineup either way?
Whichever player it is — I have my suspicions — the bass sounds right on, and Wino‘s solo late into the track kicks into this psychedelic multi-layer swirl that’s not to be missed. Of course, Spirit Caravan‘s version was killer as well, but the demo is naturally rawer and thus also a little bit darker sounding.
After checking out the track “The Last Embrace” from Spirit Caravan‘s 2003 swansong compilation of the same name last week — doing so in honor of the trio’s upcoming reunions at Desertfest London, at Desertfest Berlin and at Hellfest 2014 in France — it seemed to make sense to keep running with the theme. So after “The Last Embrace,” consider “Brainwashed” the second in a series we’ll wrap next Wednesday of the three songs from that MeteorCity release that pulled together much of Spirit Caravan‘s recorded output, save for the DreamwheelEP, issued through the same label in 1999, prior to the arrival of the second full-length, Elusive Truth, on Joe Lally of Fugazi‘s Tolotta Records.
In both its instrumental arrangement and lyrical theme, “Brainwashed” is a much different track than “The Last Embrace,” which it follows immediately as the second song on the compilation. Centered around a nod-ready heavy stomp of a riff — the kind that bassist Dave Sherman and drummer Gary Isom handled so well throughout Spirit Caravan‘s tenure — it finds guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich diving headfirst into more grounded political themes than the epic framework of the prior cut. By 2003, Wino was no stranger to social commentary, having covered that ground in The Obsessed on songs like “To Protect and Serve” and “Streetside” from 1994′s The Church Within, but the lyrics of “Brainwashed” seem to engage directly with ideas of conspiracy, the Illuminati, surreptitious elements at work:
I’ll take your evil wind and give it right back to ya Hungry buzzards are waiting on the grey fence of ignorance It’s a classic case, they obfuscate, a brainwashed populace Screaming crows and sirens, a normal world is crying Bright bird of redemption, winged truth, with eyes of fire One more fool, divide and rule, a brainwashed populace You dance around the question, because the answers, you must hide You crept into the dimension, now be lost through all time It’s a classic case, they obfuscate, a brainwashed populace
There’s a better audio quality version of the track on YouTube paired with images from John Carpenter’s 1988 film, They Live, and that doesn’t feel like an inappropriate complement (I’d have used that one instead of this, but the clip gets into “9/11 was an inside job” stuff, and I wouldn’t want to come off as arguing one way or another), since lines like “One more fool, divide and rule, a brainwashed populace” cover similar ideology. Of course, in 2003, Wino would dive further into these themes with The Hidden Hand‘s debut, Divine Propaganda (also MeteorCity), so it’s interesting as well to think of “Brainwashed” as a precursor to that.
Is it too soon? It doesn’t feel too soon. It’s been over a year and a half since Saint Vitus released their comeback long-player Lillie: F-65 (review here) through Season of Mist, adding studio work to the live reunion that began on stage at Roadburn 2009. The four-piece — guitarist Dave Chandler, vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez — recorded the album with Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed while on a West Coast tour, and though to have put it to tape and mixed over the course of just a few days seems awfully quick, it was actually the longest the band, who began as Tyrant in 1979 and for whom Lillie: F-65 would serve as their eighth album and first in 17 years, had ever spent in the studio.
I said at the time and I still feel like what the album did best was capture the spirit of Vitus‘ classic Wino-fronted material. It was simple, but in being simple, that much easier to screw up. Chandler‘s guitar tone sounds dead-on to what he delivers live on “Let Them Fall” and “The Bleeding Ground,” and there’s no studio trickery or excess to it. At 34 minutes, Vitus are as aesthetically lean and efficient as they always were, and while it would’ve been a surprise on multiple levels had they emerged from the studio with some overblown, multi-layered prog opera, that they didn’t only served to reaffirm how much they, as a long-running act, still had to offer in terms of progression and staying true to what works within their sound. Lillie: F-65 has little room for screwing around — even the Wino-penned guitar interlude “Vertigo” is brief, and I’ll argue all day that “Withdrawal” is as necessary a finish as an album can have, even though it’s basically just feedback — and spends its time instead handing down visceral judgments, plodding riffs and the sense of unease that made Vitus distinguished from their peers during their initial run and continues to stand them out today.
It would be easy to go on, to talk about Chandler‘s lyrics and Wino‘s vocals, Adams‘ basslines in “The Bleeding Ground,” or Vasquez stepping in to fill the role of original drummer Armando Acosta, or my hopes for a new album if not in 2014 then early next year, but at this point, Lillie: F-65 has been around long enough to speak for itself. Probably better to do that than ramble.
Less than two months after playing this show at Mojo Main in Newark, Delaware, on Nov. 5, 2011, Premonition 13 played their last gig. I saw them close out this tour about two week after the Delaware gig, in Brooklyn with Kings Destroy and The Gates of Slumber (review here), and they were killer, but the next thing I knew, they had canceled dates on their subsequent European run, and that was the end of it. I don’t know what happened in the band, but it didn’t seem to have ended well, and Premonition 13 have been quickly forgotten in the timeline of Scott “Wino”Weinrich‘sprojects, between reunions the last couple years with Saint Vitus, The Obsessed and now Spirit Caravan. Their debut (and, it would seem, final) album, 13 (review here), had a few killer tracks, but has kind of been swallowed up by everything else Wino has had going on, between those bands and solo acoustic work, which was already also underway by the time Premonition 13 started playing out.
But though it was probably the shortest-lived of groups in which Wino has taken part, Premonition 13 had one thing to distinguish it even more than a second guitarist in Jim Karow — it had the jam. Even before they added the “13” to the end of their name, when they first started playing out, they were basically a heavy jam band. Songs emerged from those jams and that’s what you got on the album, but jamming was at the heart of their sound, and when I saw them in Brooklyn, they ended the set with a jam just to hold firm to that spirit. Thinking about it now, I can’t help but wonder if 13might have been received differently if they had presented more longer-form material — even if they kept song structures and added jams in for a few songs — but it’s moot because the band is apparently done. So it goes.As much fun as they were to watch on stage, I doubt anyone’s going to argue against another chance to see The Obsessed or Spirit Caravan instead.
Still, this jam, filmed by John Verica in Delaware on Nov. 5, 2011, showcases what split Premonition 13 from all of Wino‘s other bands to date, and emphasizes the dynamic between Wino and Karow that worked so well on stage. Please enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Premonition 13, Live Jam in Newark, Delaware, Nov. 5, 2011
Granted, when it was released in 1988, Mournful Cries had a damn near impossible task in following 1986′s Born too Late, but no matter how you want to look at it, the two are very different records. The eye-catching bright pink of the earlier album cover is replaced by a grand dragon unfolding its wings, guitarist Dave Chandler shows a budding interest in getting on the mic, and instead of the inward-looking judgments of “I was born too late/And I’ll never be like you,” songs like “Dragon Time” and “Shooting Gallery” turned their eye outward, storytelling rather than describing. Maybe that’s simplifying it — certainly there were tracks on Born too Late that examined the world around them and told stories (“The War Starter,” to an extent) — but Mournful Crieswound up with a vibe much changed from its predecessor for coming only two years later.
It was the second of three full-lengths (the Thirsty and MiserableEP arrived directly after Born too Late, in 1987)in Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s first tenure as the band’s vocalist, and with Born too Lateon one side and 1990′s Von the other, Mournful Criesis very much the middle child. Vitus was moving away from the simplicity at root in their approach, and the songs were less grounded musically and lyrically as a result. “Dragon Time” is a good example of this — what did Vitus know about a medieval thematic? — but even if it or “The Troll” were intended as metaphors, the simple fact that metaphor was used at all was a step forward, though again, “The War Starter” touched on some of that idea without going quite as far. Vwould combine both approaches successfully, resulting in landmark Vitus cuts like “I Bleed Black” and “Angry Man,” but Mournful Criesbrought elements at work in the band’s sound to the fore that never were there before and never were there again in quite the same way.
I don’t think Mournful Criesgets the kind of acclaim as Born too Late or V, and part of that is down to the lack of an outsider-epic like “Born too Late” or “Angry Man” — “The Troll” is probably as close as the LP gets, and Vitus still play the song live — but it’s got its place in the Saint Vitus canon and for both how it relates to the rest of the discography and what it has to offer on its own level, it’s easily worth another listen.
This tour was the first for Scott “Wino” Weinrich after the death of Jon Blank, bassist for the Wino trio that put out the Punctuated Equilibriumalbum earlier in 2009. By the time they got to Atlantic City, which was in July, there was a fill-in bassist alongside Wino and Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster, who pulled double duty, but in the first going, it was Wino solo opening for Clutch, and this version of “Streamlined” comes from that run of shows. It was filmed May 16, 2009, in Bloomington, Indiana, less than a month after Blank‘s death following the Wino trio’s return from a successful European tour that included a stop at Roadburn that would later be released as a live CD in Blank‘s honor.
“Streamlined,” which appeared on The Obsessed‘s 1994 to-date swansong full-length, The Church Within, is plenty tense anyway, but in this acoustic arrangement its motoring riff gets even more stripped down. The bare essentials of “Streamlined” only come in at 1:12, and it’s about as naked a structure as I’ve heard from Wino, who wouldn’t release his Adriftsolo acoustic debut for more than another year and was still new to playing on stage by himself. Of course, he pulls the song off — even in that new context, “Streamlined” was still 15 years old — and what’s most striking of all about the runthrough of the track is that it’s still got fuzz on the acoustic guitar.
Some tones just can’t be stopped, I guess. Obviously this was a difficult period for Weinrich, and the resulting document of it in this video isn’t quite like anything else I’ve seen from him before or after, kind of capturing the transitional moment as Wino started to come into his own as a solo performer.
A fascinating way to spend a minute of your time. Enjoy and have a great first Wino Wednesday of 2014:
Wino, “Streamlined” Live in Bloomington, IN, May 16, 2009
For the most part, the Saint Vitus video for “Ice Monkey” is standard operating procedure. The clip comes culled from a variety of sources — studio footage, live footage and a performance section that seems to have been put together just for the shoot. There’s also some material that looks like it was filmed on tour. As that was about 23 years ago, that would’ve been something of a novelty at the time for a band of Vitus‘ stature and probably required a sizable piece of equipment. At the start of the clip, there’s a shot where they’re playing to one person — entirely possible that’s a soundcheck and even if not, I’m sure it’s a joke at their own expense because if you’re not looking to laugh about it you don’t put that in your video, but my understanding is they had more than a few shows where that kind of thing happened.
The real kicker about “Ice Monkey” is that Wino‘s playing guitar the whole time. Of course, he always contributed some to Vitus over his years in the band, it’s just strange to see it in the context of the video looking like business as usual. I don’t know how much he would’ve shared duties with Dave Chandler – who, if you catch it, has some pretty righteous costuming going on in the video — but it definitely doesn’t happen these days and must have created an interesting dynamic on stage. With Chandler being such a presence on guitar, and 1990′s V, from which “Ice Monkey” comes, being the last Vitus album with Wino on it until last year’s Lillie: F-65, it’s easy to read some measure of veering interest there before Wino went off to revive The Obsessed full-time, but who the hell knows what the situation actually was at that moment. Other than the band, I guess.
It’s a pretty rough quality video — there are a couple different versions out there, one with worse sound, one with decent video and audio, but that cuts off the last 20 seconds or so — but should be enough for you to get the idea. Please enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Saint Vitus‘ October tour had ended on the 25th in New Orleans, so whether Wino just stayed on the East Coast or was back to the West and then over again to play this acoustic show in Johnson City, Tennessee, I don’t really know. It seems to have been somebody’s birthday or some other such occasion, held at The HideAway, and also a stop on the Samothrace tour — local sludgers Navajo Witch played as well — so a more than solid bill one way or another. Wino played a 42-minute set to an increasingly tanked crowd, as you can hear in the sundry whooping and hollering in the clip below, and along with covering the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Motörhead, also broke out a couple new songs.
I might have one of the titles on the new cuts wrong (it sounds in the video like he’s saying it’s “Freedom something” but I can’t make out quite what), but otherwise, this is how it breaks down:
Hold on Love
I Don’t Care
Shot in the Head
Waltz Across Texas
Of those, “Shot in the Head” is Savoy Brown‘s, “Waltz Across Texas” is Springsteen and “Iron Horse” is Motörhead, everything else is original. By the end of their touring cycle in support of the collaborative Heavy Kingdomalbum (review here), Wino & Conny Ochs were performing “Crystal Madonna” regularly, though it has yet to surface in a studio version, and “Freedom…” and “Forever Gone” are new songs. The rest, and indeed “Iron Horse” and “Shot in the Head” come either from Heavy Kingdom, or from Wino‘s 2010 Adriftacoustic debut (review here).
It’s a cool show and seems like both Wino and the crowd are having a good time, so between that and the new songs, it was an obvious pick. Hope you enjoy and have a great Wino Wednesday:
Scott “Wino” Weinrich, Live at The HideAway, Johnson City, TN, 11.18.13