Imagine the Summer of Love never ended. If you weren’t alive during the summer of ’67, that’s even better. Imagine what you think the Summer of Love was like, now imagine it never ended, and that we are living in a utopian dream. Imagine you are sitting in a field, in the purple light of evening, and a sound is calling you into the dark at the far end of the field. You figure out that the sound is coming from a giant black structure in the dark. You walk towards the object, and the sound becomes louder. Louder and louder, stranger and stranger. The closer you get to the black, the clearer the shape becomes. It’s a giant quadrilateral! A building! You decide to find the door, and enter. Why not?
Inside, pretty much, is Goat’s ‘Live Ballroom Ritual’.
Long live the Swedish people, long live Goat. Their studio album, ‘World Music’, is one of the rare records that unites high-brow hipsters and ‘chilled out’ heavy dudes, the crate-diggers, bargain-bin-hunters. It’s an album of corrupt pop and ugly rock and psychotic grooves. If you haven’t heard it, why have you got this far into my review of their live record? Go! Listen to ‘World Music’!
‘Live Ballroom Ritual‘ is running at a close second in my ‘Most Anticipated December Releases that Aren’t Studio Albums’ *. Here’s why…
On both records, the spooky ‘Diarabi’ opens proceedings. It’s got a tantric guitar jingle floating just above your Third Eye, in a dense North African haze. It builds and builds, the crowd emitting soft cheers of appreciation, then cymbals enter and then it goes FULLY FUCKING WACKO! It’s a hypnotic guitar jam – but the drums cash the cheques. The afro-beat flavour Goat bring to the buffet is their dish of choice, they serve up huge platters of African madness throughout their recorded output. Yikes…
Without also reviewing ‘World Music’ concurrently, I can’t really explain the second cut of the live record, ‘Golden Dawn’ – it’s a funky bastard with more drum fireworks, squalling guitars blasting away at your chakras all at once, a dense euphoric blizzard. Ya dig? Rhythmically, it drops into a James-Brown-athon at seemingly random points. I like that.
It’s only the start of the funk-o-tropia because next tune ‘Disco Fever’ is absolutely ridiculous. I’m pretty sure I heard it at a night-time disco in a forest this summer, but that could be wishful thinking. The vocals drop into centre stage for the first time on Live… ‘Wake up the Goatman!… People keep dancing into the early dawn!’ The guitar sprinkles a lil’ Southern Fried boogie down on you! Lord have Mercy!
A little crowd moaning and cheering later, ‘Stonegoat’ is at you. Imagine Yoko Ono and Skip Spence kicking Damo out of Can and taking over, and you’re nearly there. It’s got a hint of a Diddley beat about it – dum-du-dum-du-du-du-dum-dum-dum-dum. It was released in the summer, a double A side 7 inch with ‘Dreambuilding’.
‘Let It Bleed’ (sounds familiar doesn’t it? Answers on a postcard c/o Shaman Lee for a no-prize) soothes out the rough ragged edges of your mind brothers and sisters. It’s strategically placed on ‘World Music’, and likewise here. It’s a tropical juicy tutti frutti Fela Kuti hootin’ tootin’ tune!® There’s obviously a mad Sax murderer on the loose – beware his funky fury on this cut. He skronks and scooby-dop-woobies his way into your skull. Pristine musicianship, I think you’ll agree.
The next tune, ‘Dreambuilding’ is the second half of the summer double A side 7 inch – featuring some of the craziest art I’ve ever seen on a record, very groovy. ‘Dreambuilding’ is another bliss-out boogie – guitar lines weave and bob and duck in and out of focus, all held together by some more superb drumming.
‘Run To Your Mama’ is my favourite track on ‘World Music’, and its better here. It’s such a Sabbath-in-India dinosaur of a tune that it even got its own remix EP. Tony Iommi overdosing on Bhangra?! It’s preposterous until you hear it – and certainly less preposterous than Iommi and Body Count, at any rate. And so it stays, gratuitous string bending and all, until approximately 24 seconds, where it becomes a dance-able beauty for another few seconds then MORE IOMMI and then out, back to the narcotic dance beat and urging vocals. It’s one of the musical highlights of this decade, if you ask me, even better in this live setting. It lets you chill, dance a while, have a toke, and then all Hell breaks loose to close it out, screamed vocals and Sabbath darkness.
It can be a bit of a dull affair listening to ‘live’ albums, as any KISS or Rush, Grateful Dead or Hawkwind fan will tell you, having sat through about twelve four-disc collections of their favourite cash-cows. Some hit the spot. ‘Goathead’ is the reason why I don’t think there’s been a better live album this year – I didn’t really dig it on ‘World Music’ – but here it blossoms into the REAL DEAL. Now I dig it. It’s back with the Diddley beat, gives you sweet taste. Try to ignore that bassline, diddley-dum-dum-dudududum.
‘Goatman’ follows (obviously). ‘World Music’ was stacked on both sides, and ‘Goatman’ is the second track on said record. Its place here throws the ear a bit off, seeing as it usually follows ‘Diarabi’, but I can get over that. The lyrics enter Spinal-Tap-mode here: “the Goatman should run the show nananananana”.
Last in the ‘Holy Trinity of Goats’ is ‘Goatlord’ – why not? It’s got a melancholy, Wild-West grower of a riff, not dissimilar from Rowland S. Howard’s six strings (that drew blood). It’s Doorsy, Byrdsy, chimey and ominous in a Clint Eastwood movie kinda fashion. If you are amongst the folks who likes a reefer, beware the ending, it’ll shake your buzz, man.
The showstopper of the set – should you need one – is ‘Det Som Aldrig Förändras/Kristallen Den Fina’, which, if my Swedish For Dummies lessons taught me anything, means ‘It will never change/the fine crystal’. Don’t quote me on it, though. Ask the band. The track is 11 minutes of serpentine bass gurgles, guitar wizardry and Bill Ward tub thumping. It’s like ‘Dopesmoker’ by Sleep in its epic, unrelenting quest to ‘Proceed the Weedian, Nazareth’ – ya dig? I don’t have words for it. It’s the jewel in Goat’s Live Album of the Year crown.
Popular groove ‘The Sun The Moon’ closes out the set. It closes it out in Faustian guitar fuzztrionics! Fuck yeah! It’s a fuzzbomb to end all weapons of mind eruption!
I’ve deliberately tried and sadly failed to avoid direct musical comparisons to bands here because, put simply, Goat sound completely unique. The energy and intensity of this live recording is completely authentic and organic.
It’s a voodoo-hoodoo-who-flew-over-the-cuckoo’s-coop mindfuck of an experience, real horror-show.
Buy it and support these evil bastards!
*The release that takes that particular top-spot is the 45th Anniversary cash-in of White Light/White Heat.
Scribed by: Ross Horton