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Fricke's Picks: Cosimo Matassa, Husker Du's Greg Norton and Hawkwind

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Engineering New Orleans
Born in a city where music and food are not just staples but religions, the legendary New Orleans engineer Cosimo Matassa founded his first studio in the closest thing to a church minus the Mass: his family's French Quarter grocery. By the time of the 1951 singles by Smiley Lewis and Dave Bartholomew that open the British-import box The Cosimo Matassa Story (Proper), Matassa was churning out heaven on a daily basis, with a self-taught expertise for getting perfect takes under near-party conditions. Over the six years and 120 tracks here, Matassa engineered virtually every great local R&B and early rock & roll session, from seminal dates by Fats Domino and Little Richard to swinging footnotes by Ernest Kador (the future Ernie K-Doe) and Art Neville, later of the Meters. Matassa, now eighty-one, retired from music in the Eighties, returning to the food business. But you can live on this cuisine indefinitely.

A Hüsker's Return
When Minneapolis punks Hüsker Dü broke up in 1988, guitarist Bob Mould and drummer Grant Hart went solo. Bassist Greg Norton quit music, becoming a chef. The Gang Font is his first band in two decades (founded with drummer Dave King of power-jazz trio the Bad Plus), and they are as hardcore as the Hüskers in their instrumental frenzy. The Gang Font Feat. Interloper (Thirsty Ear) was cut in a day, and the enthusiastic haste shows in the Font's knot-rock zoom and free-form blowouts.

Live Hawkwind Ritual
In 1972, British stargazers Hawkwind threw the bread from their U.K. hit "Silver Machine" into a multimedia road show and lavish live album, Space Ritual (EMI). Thirty-five years later, Hawkwind's spaced howl and vicious terra firma drive on this two-CD reissue -- with a pre-Mötorhead Lemmy on bass and a bonus DVD of the original stage freakout -- still make most current inner-space rock sound like prep-school drone.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

David Fricke

Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke has more than 10,000 albums in his New York apartment. His first record review for the magazine was Frank Zappa's 'Sheik Yerbouti' (RS 290).

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