Altamont Diary CD (2004)
Buy digital album.
Black Cab's critically acclaimed debut album in CD format.
1 Summer Of Love
2 It's OK
3 Angels Arrive
4 Jerry Sez
5 Good Drugs
6 Hey People
7 New Speedway Boogie
8 A Killing
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Reviews for Altamont Diary
"You can almost hear the crack of the pool cues and smell the black smoke of the fires on the hill. With bloodied-fuzz guitars, hellish electronics and sound bites from Gimme Shelter, the Australian duo Black Cab has created a riveting, album-length memorial to the fatal folly of the Rolling Stones' free concert at Altamont Speedway in December 1969. This is the end of peace and love in you-are-there detail: the murderous riffing in "1970"; an eerie, electro-psych version of the Grateful Dead's "New Speedway Boogie"; the real, stoned-zone voice of Jerry Garcia, in "Jerry Sez," reacting to the bummer news that the Hells Angels have beaten up Marty Balin. A day that will live in infamy now lives on record, with appropriate menace."
- David Fricke, Rolling Stone US April 2005
"GRADED ON A CURVE: "A". Black Cab’s Altamont Diary is a gorgeous and strange album about a terrible day that turned out to be the tilting point between the new Garden of Eden and the prevailing gloom that Neil Young sings about so well in Tonight’s The Night—and what more could you possibly ask for? Well I, for one, impatiently await the definitive concept album about those other killers of the Woodstock Nation, the Manson Family. They were co-conspirators with Altamont in the murder of the hippie dream, and they too deserve their day in the lethal California sun. Funny how California was ground zero for both the birth and death of the Age of Aquarius; from the Haight in ’67 to the day the Manson Family took over Dennis Wilson’s house to the festival of death that was Altamont, it all went down in the land of sun, surf, and good clean fun. And when it was over, 12 people were dead, there was absolutely nothing funny about peace, love, and understanding, and the surf was most definitely not up."
- Michael Little, thevinyldistrict.com
**** "Melbourne duo Andrew Coates and James Lee have received album-of-the-year accolades in Australia for "the soundtrack to Gimme Shelter that never was". A dazed concept album about the Stones' fateful concert in December '69, it's the kind of psychedelic noir that Primal Scream or Spacemen 3 always strived to achieve. The Grateful Dead breathe all over it, but Black Cab add audio treatments, eerie voices and the knee-crunching guitars of the eleven-minute onslaught '1970'. From their fresh, exhilarating perspective, the Summer of Love expires again."
- Chris Roberts, UNCUT Magazine UK July 2005
"A concept album based on one of the darkest days in rock history - the 1969 Stones concert that ended in death and a Hell's Angels riot. It's an engrossing and unnerving trip, full of pulsating electro sound effects, distant crowd noises and musical nods to Primal Scream and New Order at their rampaging best. Nightmares start here."
- UK Daily Mirror June 24th 2005
"Ambitiously for a first album, Aussie duo Black Cab take a trip back in time to offer a glowering interpretation of the rock'n'roll nightmare that was Altamont. A stoned, dark menace hovers over such giveaways as Summer Of Love, Good Drugs, A Killing, as layers of guitars wail psychedelically and sampled, disembodied voices wander in and out of proceedings. All very Primal Scream, and none the worse for that, the best is reserved for last with a rib-rattling 10-minute plus finale simply called 1970."
- Peter Kane, Q Magazine November 2005
"In December 1969, a few months after the Woodstock Festival celebrated the cultural hegemony of the hippie dream, the killing of a punter by Hell's Angels at the Stones' free concert at Altamont Speedway in effect killed that dream stone dead, ushering in the selfish Seventies. This pivotal event is "celebrated" by the Australian duo Black Cab on this concept album, whose blend of mid-tempo guitar drones, sitar, wah-wah, electronic washes, maracas, half-heard conversations, announcements and windswept ambiences resembles Primal Scream in the throes of some dark psychedelic seizure. Apart from a cover of "New Speedway Boogie", the song that The Grateful Dead wrote about the event, the 10 tracks are cyclical grooves devised by the singer/producer Andrew Coates and guitarist James Lee, in which slogan soundbites such as "It's the Summer of Love" and "I can hear the sound of people getting down" are repeated, mantra-like, against densely layered backdrops, with snatches of speech ("...beating up musicians", "...somebody's hurt!") occasionally discernible through the sonic haze."
- UK Independent December 9th 2005
8/10 "Black Cab are an Australian duo and this debut album is, you can assume, an ambitious starting point. You see, it's a concept record about the fateful free Rolling Stones concert in December 1969 where, among a series of minor disasters, an 18 year old black man was murdered, apparently by the Hells Angels So how does it sound? A bit like Primal Scream (circa 'Xtrmntr'), Spaceman 3 and Happy Mondays (without the fun) as it delves into the black heart of rock'n'roll nihilism. There are beats, tripped-out psychedelia, electronica and samples from the event. It's tense and drives towards the inevitable doomed ending during the chaotic bad-acid head rush of 'A Killing'. The 10-minute sprawling mini-epic '1970' closes proceedings with the bleak unbelievable truth that the dazed, confused and naïve spirit of free love died that day too."
- Stuart Wright, Guitar Magazine UK, December 2005
"The rock equivalent of the journey up the river in 'Apocalypse Now', a quite extraordinary concept record, equally thrilling and frightening. Black Cab is an Australian duo, singer and producer Andrew Coates and guitarist James Lee. This record, as the title hints at, is a concept album based around the notorious concert featuring the Rolling Stones that took place at Altamont Speedway in California in December 1969, an event that ended in a violent death that signalled the end of the 'Summer Of Love' hippy era. The music, although clearly influenced by the Stones and the Grateful Dead, draws at least as much, if not more, from Brit bands, particularly Primal Scream, but also Spiritualized, and New Order. So as well as Keef-esque riffage, and drums dragged from the pre digital age, there are walls of synth, echoy mantra like vocals (second track 'It's OK' repeats over and over 'Its OK, things are not OK'), crowd noises fade in and out, and indecipherable tannoy announcements drift by. It makes for a gripping listen, even though everyone knows how the story ends, terribly. It's possibly because of that fact, that the tension and unease builds through the record, momentarily diverted by a spacey reverb soaked cover of Grateful Dead's 'New Speedway Boogie'. The climax is the 10 plus minutes of '1970' which, since it follows a track called 'The Killing', signifies what came next, the end of 'Peace and Love'. It's an extraordinary song, as if Joy Division were channelling Quicksilver Messenger Service, and instead of coming from late 70s Manchester were drug fried Californian hippies on a bad trip. Lee's excellent guitar playing on this track significantly adds to the dark atmosphere. Annoyingly a bit too late for year-end 'best of' lists, but a stunning record."
- Patrick Wilkins, Americana-uk.com, December 2005
"A concept album about the Stones' infamous concert that pretty much nixed the Swinging Sixties? Talk about having fat to fall… but this Aussie duo manage to pull off a sterling job; Altamont Diary is all swirling echo, raw as sushi chord slashing from guitarist James Lee, portentous big beats, and enough ideas to fill at least the last five Rolling Stones albums."
- Rocksound UK, Dec. 2005
"Apparently, the 1960s ended when Hell's Angels murdered an audience member and beat up Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin during the Rolling Stones' 1969 Altamont concert. Black Cab's Altamont Diary concept album summons the spirit of the times without slavishly replicating its sounds. Instead, like America's Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Melbourne duo favour the effects-heavy psychedelia espoused by Spacemen 3 or Loop during the "shoegazing" era. Initial lysergic levity soon devolves into oppressive gloom, culminating in the 11-minute space-rock of 1970. An impressive release, with occasional over attention to detail."
- Stewart Lee, Sunday Times UK, October 23rd 2005
"Australian duo with a concept album about the fateful Rolling Stones concert at Altamont in 1969, and it seethes with a simmering undertow of violence. Just stay off the brown acid"
- Music Monthly supplement, The Observer UK, November 20 2005
**** "Black Cab's full-length debut is a concept album revisiting The Rolling Stones' ill-starred free concert at Altamont Speedway in 1969, chronicled in the Gimme Shelter film; an event so tragically marred by violence it came to signify the end of Flower Power as emphatically as Woodstock has championed it four months before. Yet rather than merely create a musical pastiche of the late sixties, Black Cab's largely instrumental project is a driving, hypnotic, guitar-led symphony that owes as much to Primal Scream as The Grateful Dead (whose New Speedway Boogie is covered here). Blended with snatches of dialogue from the Gimme Shelter documentary itself are prime-era U2 basslines, cinematic Air-like synths and an inventive use of layered guitars and effects - and, on the 10 minute plus centerpiece, 1970, some epic, demon-haunted guitar playing. Standout tracks: Summer of Love, Jerry Sez, 1970."
- Owen Bailey, Guitarist UK, Sept. 2005
"Wonderful, idiosyncratic and remarkably ambitious... the set succeeds in capturing an exceptional range of moods, building to a heightened sense of dread with Angels Arrive and Hey People, and the explosive finale of the 10 minute epic, 1970. The musicianship is exemplary - Lee is amazing, his layers of guitars always underpinning tape effects, keyboard washes and Coates' chanting vocals. The spirit of the Grateful Dead is all over the record - check their Cab's splendid version of New Speedway Boogie."
- Jeff Glorfeld, Melbourne Age EG, July 2nd 2004
**** "A superb blend of electronica and rock...dramatic without being pretentious, intelligent but not humorless."
- Chris Wormesley, Melbourne Sunday Age Sept. 12th 2004
"One of the most thematically and musically impressive concept albums, Australia - or indeed the world - has seen in years... A ludicrously impressive achievement that a band - especially an Australian one so removed by time and geography from the Summer of Love - could create such an eerie soundtrack to such an explosive time."
- Anton fasterlouder.com.au
"Melbourne duo imagining their own trip in the dark mother of all festivals. Like taking a mind drive into history. You can practically feel the hum of the event, its cosmic wave coming through you just over the hill. "
- Mark Mordue, Neumu.org
"This is like the soundtrack (to Gimme Shelter) that never was..."
- Jeff Apter, The Bulletin
"Black cab's new album 'Altamont Diary' has been knocking people out at fbi - and it's easy to hear why. The album was inspired by the rolling stones' free gig at the altamont speedway in 1969 and features some top notch, dirty, grinding rock'n'roll. All the touchstones are obvious (you could almost be on the bus with the merry pranksters), yet the sound is somehow liberating and forward looking. Such is the benefit of hindsight - returning to the past with a crateful of tunes from the 21st century."
"In Altamont Diary, these two skilful musicians take the listener on a dark psychedelic trip back to 1969 but still with the present in sight as they pick up bits of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, combine it with Primal Scream and Underworld, and then mix it all up with the weirdest acid they can find and finally let the listener down with the peculiar sensation that the world will never be the same again…"
"Altamont Diary is simply amazing…"
- Beat Magazine
"Set against a backdrop of late-sixties festival goings-on, we're led through a hazy, drug-addled quagmire of rock and roll history, helped along by dark, spacious guitar, ominous and driving rhythm, arrangements, and haunting backroom overlays. With the obvious advantage of a historical framework, this album is a steady paced well mapped out trip through events long gone, and one of the more unique rock experiences I've had on a long while."
- Daniel Griffith. InPress Magazine
"Black Cab has faithfully recreated the sound of the time in a fashion that is almost unnerving... Occasionally with concept albums, bands run into the trap of assuming that the listener is clued into what the concept is. Happily, Black Cab haven't done this, and it's quite possible to listen to "Altamont Diary" without having the faintest clue where Altamont is and why it was important, and still get something out of it. Ultimately, that's the mark of an excellent album."
- Craig Franklin, halo-17.net
**** "Original. Creative. Assured. They're about the only words I need to describe this brooding piece of work from Melbourne indie act Black Cab. Full of atmospheric guitar effects, trippy keyboard sounds, moody drums and an assortment of alternate instruments (sitar, wind chimes), 'Altamont Diary' is perhaps one of the finest debut releases this reviewer has heard in a long time... From the laid back groove of Summer Of Love through the intense Good Drugs to the beaty vibe of New Speedway Boogie and the epic 1970, it's an impressive release. This isn't just a debut; this is a statement."
- Mark Rasmussen, ozonline.com.au