The Last Album
Albert Ayler The Last Album LP (Impulse, 1969)
In a musical life that was pretty much controversial from the start it seems absurd that Ayler's most controversial period was that right after Coltrane died, when he released New Grass and Music is the Healing Force of the Universe. Joined by guitarist Henry Vestine (formerly of the Mothers of Invention and taking a break from Canend Heat), Ayler's take on funk and the blues lead many fans to scream "SELL OUT." But what these folks failed to see is that the number one theme with Ayler always was exploring his and jazz's musical roots. Sooner or later that was bound to take him to R&B and the blues. Perhaps the uproar was over the presence of Henry Vestine, a knowledgeable but pretty staid blues/rock guitarist. (Legend goes that an interviewer once asked Vestine if he could play with anyone, who would it be. "Albert Ayler," he replied. Ayler read it, tracked down Vestine and invited him to jam.) Another thing his critics over looked was that part of Ayler's "sell out" consisted of his embrace of the fucking bag-pipes! How this fusion of blues jam and pig squeal was to ever account for commercial success or mainstream acceptance, I don't know. But it does speak volumes of the mental state (assume psychedelic) of some of Albert's more hardcore detractors.
Here is one of my favorite bag-pipe blues jams. It is just Ayler and Vestine, no sidemen. Ayler wails away on his bloated leather bag, while Vestine nods off at the fret board. When I first heard this years ago, my first question was "What were they thinking?" It is a question I still have yet to answer. The more I listen to this song the stranger it gets...and the more I like it. This is a puzzle.
My poor child...the "Just Say No" cheesecloth through which younger folks' worldviews are filtered has CERTAINLY led you to "the correct thing to say."
But I'm afraid the Nancy Reagan-styled thinking has some of you kids flailing at some pretty damned silly notions. (Do you even know what the term "psychedelic" means?)
Friend, you are most definitely NOT a "freak"! So don't worry: you are COMPLETELY NORMAL, and no one can take that away from you!
Be all that you can be! Push it past the max! Give 110 percent! Take it to the next level, baby!!!