Friday, August 20, 2010

Sonny Sharrock - Monkey Pockie Boo

Are my reviews getting too reviewery?

Early in my career as a word alignment artist, I penned a lavishly post-modern review of Sonny Sharrock's 1969 ethereally transcendent debut LP, Black Woman - an timeless snapshot of jazz and flamenco deconstructionism I've become irreparably enchanted by since my discovery (on my own, that is, and before anyone else would even give this stunning record the time of day, ha ha!). Trekking through the remainder of Sharrock's largely approachable and enchanting catalog of soundscapes, I've sdsfg5

You see? That's what I mean by too reviewery. Wordy, self-assured, wiser-than-thou, garbage. And it's an unconscious thing, too. Ugh. Let me see if I can meet up with these pretensions, but at the other end of the spectrum. So here we go: equidistant to the center of normalcy as the above paragraph, just in the opposite direction:
Sunny ShaROCK is KUHra-zy! Lots of wEiRd noises and big ol' screamy AHHHH parts and boop-bop drums going slappety-slap with the woodle wo00dle string thing in the 1st track and oh MY GOD the BEST pa

Maybe both of these are sort of exaggerated a fraction, though.
Alright, that's enough amusement of any kind. We are here to do business like adults. Adult men, to be precise, as women are inferior in every way. In my travels, I've discovered that, much like every artist ever, Sonny Sharrock has a few lame albums in his musical armory; namely Paradise and the super rare follow-up, Dance With Me Montana. The former is slick-as-oil fusion-esque bullshit with big clean-as-a-whistle funk grooves and keyboards providing a backdrop for Sonny to get quasi-nonsensical over and Linda to sing quasi-nonsensically with. It's truly a bizarre release when you consider it's attempted commercialization leaves most of the elements that made the first two unprofitable intact, just smeared with high-gloss resin. Oh, and the latter has a silly painting of Sonny doing a panged Eric Clapton face on the cover. I haven't heard it, actually, but it's probably bad. Alright fine I'll listen to it before I say I hate it.
Monkey Pockie Boo is the cryptically/retardedly titled follow-up to the aforementioned LP, and is a rather different affair, with all the melodic, flamenco-esque guitar flourishes kidnapped, brutalized, and hastily concealed beneath a soft bed of soil and decomposing leaves alongside a highway completely depleted in favor of a rickety mess of comparatively standard free jazz noise bursts. No negative implications, though, because despite it's corresponding "normalcy", it's still what you'd call a classic (because it's really easy to use this as a justification of one's approval) of near comical AGGRESSION. This album will flog you senseless, in other words.

Just like Black Woman, this album is pretty damn short, and frankly, that's the way I typically enjoy my albums - just barely cracking the 35 minute mark. Why? Perhaps my IQ is remarkably low and I get intimidated by double albums half the time. "27th Day" is a hair over 17 minutes, bustin' in dis bitch with a clunky, brooding scrape of the bass punctuated by Linda's wails and most tubular of all, a kazoo/slide-whistle. The moments where the kazoo harmonizes with the upward sweep of Linda's vocals are truly awesome, and provide one of the very few moments of clarity in the album. Unlike most free jazz releases where the band begins by playing a motif, the scratchy bass and the relatively composed vocal emissions are about as close as you get - heck, the band even returns to this "motif" at the songs conclusion.
"Soon" is the real gem here as far as I'm concerned, which begins with an unaccompanied vocal melody that could bust into gospel at any second, but instead slams a crowbar at your head with a startling burst of improv-noise from all involved. The aggression displayed on this song is ludicrous, with the percussion at it's busiest, Sonny's shards of guitar coming across as more blistering noise than fragmented abstractions, and Linda losing the fuck out of her shit all over the place. For 7 minutes! Great stuff, and it makes the closer, a title track, sound like an exercise in restraint in comparison. The two (Linda and Sonny) start chanting, and everything stays relatively grounded despite the frantic percussion. It's good, but I'm tired and don't feel like writing anymore today, so just trust me here.
Sorry for the lame rapidshituponmyface link (seriously, why hasn't the galaxy embraced mediafire?), but I'm not at my laptop right now. Expect a new link, soon. "SO HEY", you interject most rudely, "HOWZ ZHIS STACK UP TO BLACK WOMAN, LOL?" This is probably the more celebrated, reputation-packed affair, but I'd take Black Woman over this most days of the week. Not "any day", since Monkey Pockie Boo is really good. No sir. But most days, sure. Black Woman presented a unique vision that sadly was never expanded upon or even heard by most jazz-wads of the era (as far as I've heard), which sorta blows considering how beautiful, chaotic, and mesmerizing it is as a whole. I'd love to hear more artists meld the flamenco-esque guitar virtuosity with angular, aggressive guitar improv, busy percussion, and such blaring vocalesce.
Sadly, this would never be.

Until I took up the challenge, that is.

No wait, I've never played an instrument.


  1. Good review, I like insanity. You achieve it very well...

  2. Monkey Pockie Boo...woo hoo!
    If it's no Black Woman, well few are, but it still sure is good Sharrock. Thanks Heve.

  3. You're totally wrong about "Paradise"... it's totally different than the real "slick-as-oil" bullshit that existed at that time... That album turns typical disco fusion grooves into something tight, bristling and amazing.

    1. It's certainly not as bad as your run of the mill fusion album from the era, but I still can't say I'm a fan. It's probably an easier way to get into his wares than the way I started (Black Woman)