Saturday, April 3, 2010

Robert Quine- Early Recordings: Bruce's Farm (1969)

Robert Quine in a rare photo without his sunglasses.
Quine's autograph, for you handwriting analysis freaks.
These are the earliest known recordings of Robert Quine playing guitar. A tape of him playing bass in a band called the Counterpoints exists, but he would never play it for me because the sax player (who had played on the Caps' classic Red Headed Flea on White Star) didn't show up the night of the gig that was taped and Quine hated the tape. These tunes were recorded in May, 1969 when Quine was a member of a band called Bruce's Farm. The other members were Barry Silverblatt- guitar/lead vocals, Rick Davis- bass/vocals and Bob Clark- drums. Quine is playing guitar and singing harmony. Here's one of the originals-- Backwards. The other original is simply called Blues and is your basic twelve bar blues instrumental with a wild guitar break from Quine. The other twenty songs on the tape are covers of fairly well known tunes-- Elvis, Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Hendrix, Kinks, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins are all represented as well as a cool rendition of the Fiestas' So Fine (done in three part disharmony) along four Byrds covers (Quine loved the Byrds). Here are some highlights-- Satisfaction, Feel A Whole Lot Better, Where Have All The Good Times Gone (that's Quine singing lead on the Kinks cover, I think he sings it better than Bowie did), Blueberry Hill, Walk Away Renee, Revolution, Eight Miles High, and Why. I'll be posting the other elven tunes in the near future. The sound quality is a bit dodgy, there are some drop outs, static, etc. but that's to be expected from a cassette recording of a gig from forty one years ago. To my ears, the most astounding thing is that you can hear just how much Quine had already developed his unique style by '69. The only real difference is the heavy use of the wah wah pedal on some tunes. I believe this is the tape Quine played for Richard Hell when they first talked about putting the Voidoids together. It came to me from Barry Silverblatt who was the leader of the band and can be heard playing guitar and doing most of the singing. Barry and Quine kept in touch over the years, they talked nearly every week until the end of Quine's life. You can hear Barry's voice on the Velvet Underground Quine Tapes box set. If you listen closely when Lou announces from the stage that Sister Ray "is gonna go on for awhile", you hear him laugh and mumble something to Quine (it's the version of Sister Ray recorded in St. Louis). If you haven't already, you can read my recollections of a 25 year friendship with Quine here. For the last recordings Quine made before his (I believe assisted) 2004 suicide, click here. It's almost seven years since Quine took a powder, and not a day goes by when I don't think of him.
Getting back to the music, from this tape we can see that Quine's style changed more in the last year of his life (when he switched from the Stratocaster to the Telecaster and stopped using the whammy bar) than it had in the previous thirty years. Historically, this tape is a real gem, thanks Barry, you too are a gem. In my first Quine posting I talk about a band Quine told me he had in St. Louis called the Garbage Vendors. Barry, who knew Quine from that time assures me that Quine was yanking my crank with that one. Now that I think about it, it makes sense. Although he did show me picture of himself with three black guys, there were no instruments or anything in the shot, they could have been anyone. I'd love to believe that story, but the more I think about it, the more it sounds like it was made up especially for my ears.
BTW, Quine's cousin Tim Quine has a blog-- Rubber City Review which has a posting about Quine up this week.

15 comments:

Dee said...

Great recordings from a truly cool guy. I have great memories of talking to Bob at the movie memorabilia store that he and Ork worked at in the last century.

Brendan said...

How interesting that Quine is related to Dan Auerbach!

planckzoo said...

Wow, thanks for sharing these recordings and stories about the amazing Robert Quine.

TT said...

I saw the poet John Taggart--who is super interesting, and who did a great lit magazine in the 70s called Maps, that had issues dedicated both to N. Tosches' [and my] poet hero Charles Olson and to Coltrane--give one of the best readings I've been to, and one of his long, drone type poems (sort of his style) was an extremely moving (without being maudlin) elegy for Quine.

J.D. King said...

Some great solos! And yes, his approach to guitar was close to fully formed in 1969!

Thanks!

roscoe said...

Bravo

markus said...

what a great gift for easter. thanks!

after he died, there was talk of releasing a compilation album of some of his lesser known stuff -- I wondered what happened to these plans? I've managed to collect nearly everything he was on that was officially released, but I've never been able to find those albums by the two japanese singer/songwriters that he was on. (although there is a good clip of him on YouTube with one of them, whose name is Sion.) I've also imagined that he must have left tapes with hours of music that he made on his own or with others. whether it reaches light of day or not, sure hope its accounted for and safe somewhere. and, yeah, i'd like to hear it too. thats what filesharing is for.

The Hound said...

"but I've never been able to find those albums by the two japanese singer/songwriters that he was on. (although there is a good clip of him on YouTube with one of them, whose name is Sion.)"

I have a live tape somewhere of Quine playing in Japan w/that guy...I'll try and dig it out someday.

Anonymous said...

The Counterpoints were a very popular club band back in the 60's in NE ohio. I use to see them often But I don't believe Quine was in the version I saw . Thanks for the post!

Karl Straub said...

thanks for posting this! Any early Quine is a bonus--

here's a link to one of my posts about Quine's work.

karlstraubguitar.blogspot.com/2009/01/squalid-lyricism-of-bob-quine.html

Ken said...

I've been obsessed with Robert Quine for over twenty two--ever since I found that copy of The Blue Mask in the cut-out bin of a suburban K-mart. You have done an immense public service by posting the earliest (and final) existing recordings of the most under-recorded session guitarist of all-time.

Although Quine sounds dandy on these old tapes, I am struck by how much his playing would change by 1977. The playing here is far more modal (mixolydian) than what came later--perhaps owing to the McGuinn influence. Also, his solo on "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?" displays the old trick from the Mickey Baker books (though it's as old as the hills) of substituting a minor scale based on the fifth of the major chord--instant fake jazz! I'm not sure he would employ that device much in his later playing.

As for the Sion CD, there's a copy on eBay. As a would-be Quine completist, I'm tempted:

http://cgi.ebay.com/SION-ROBERT-QUINE-MARC-RIBOT-JOHN-ZONE-JAPAN-CD-a826-/170489383127?cmd=ViewItem&pt=Music_CDs&hash=item27b1f588d7

Steve said...

THANK YOU so much for all the Robert Quine stuff! It is greatly appreciated....as much as Robert was under-appreciated. Truly an amazing man....

Daddy Green said...

Absolutely brilliant post : adore the playing - unbelievable how Quine-ish he already was in 69... Please please post the rest and anything else you come by. Thnaks a lot.
be great to have a lossless version - maybe on dimeadozen? too.. xxx

Michael said...

Subterranean Records

I have the cd of the instrumental soundtrack. With Van Quine's approval I offered it to several labels including John Zorn, none were interested. It's out there material as psychotic as Quine ever got. As for the retrospective, it was to be funded by some of the sale of his guitars. After the dust settled, Van Quine was not interested in investing in the project. Most labels were not interested due to the potentially high cost of licensing tracks from Lou Reed, Matthew Sweet, Marianne Faithful... Some of the more esoteric artists like Sion, Lloyd Cole, Corin Curschellas, Zorn et.al. were open to licensing their tracks at little or no cost. With the lack of interest from family and labels I felt as though it was a losing battle. I still have the cd of the instrumental soundtrack. If anyone is interested in licensing it, I would be happy to refer those parties to the rightful owner. fyi, Quine always maintained that after The Blue Mask, the recordings he did with Corin Curschellas and Marc Ribot were his favorite. I'm inclined to agree him.

yatesspain.blogspot.com said...

Very useful material, thank you for the article.

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