Flaming Lips 2004 release.. a followup from Yoshimi Battles the Robots...the previous album also had a song called "Ego Tripping At The Gates of Hell"
A Part of the Underground Music Vernacular since 1987....
BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS Issue #18 February 1987
Review by the Editor - Jon Storey
Review by Jon Storey from Bucket Full Of Brains magazine 1987
A 2018 Review
"If I could give one single Australian album to all my friends, one that I'd bank on most of them never having heard before, it would be Louis Tillett's Ego Tripping At The Gates of Hell. Every time I see one in a record bin - usually around the $30 mark; unders for an album of its scarcity and quality - my urge is to grab it and gift it to a good home. If you've never heard it, and most haven't, I envy you experiencing it for the first time. Louis Tillett is something of an unsung national treasure, a gifted pianist and songwriter whose songs are steeped in jazz, blues and R&B, but infused with the energy and spirit of punk. His lyrics are impressionistic and often mystical, and if there's an obvious comparison to be made here, it's with Van Morrison. His singing is soulful, yearning, sometimes full of wonder, and at others full of dread. You know something's on his tail. As a side-man, his playing has pulled hard rock bands like the Beasts of Bourbon and the New Christs in new directions. His first group of note was the Wet Taxis, then Paris Green, and though Ego Tripping is billed as a solo album, it's really an extension of that band, with three key collaborators: drummer Louis Burdett, guitarist Charlie Owen (both of whom were also playing in the New Christs at the time), and saxophonist Diane Spence. Burdett's drums drive the opener, Trip To Kalu-Ki-Bar, at a brisk pace but it's immediately obvious this isn't a standard rock record. Tillett's piano is high in the mix, then Spence swoops in on soprano sax with the hook that defines the song. It's not post-punk in the vein of Ed Kuepper's Laughing Clowns, nor is it jazz fusion: the songs are too concise for the latter and too traditional in structure and execution for the former. But the flexibility of the musicians helps make Ego Tripping an album of variable moods and shapes, with a shimmering dreamlike quality you can completely lose yourself in for a little over half an hour. I listen to it and invariably, by the end of it, I feel like I've been transported and woken up somewhere else, even if, as the title of the last song has it, it's a dead end street in the lucky country. Swimming In The Mirror is still startling, an old song which Tillett first cut with Died Pretty guitarist Brett Myers and Celibate Rifles singer Damien Lovelock on a one-off single. This version is far more arresting, beginning with Tillett's foreboding piano overlaid with wash of cymbals, before bursting into full-throttle rock & roll. Burdett again leads from the back as Tillett sing-songs lyrics pitched somewhere between Lewis Carroll and Marc Bolan: Nights and lights and poodle bites, And silver roosters in full flight Screeching, calling, climbing, falling, Making lots of sound! Butterflies with devil's eyes And rolling thunder in the sky Still I find there's nothing I can do But swim around with you... As Burdett accelerates to double-time, Owen cuts loose with the sort of solo that explains why Paul Kelly was moved to write a song about his playing - a furious attack that's at odds with the rest of the song's mellifluousness. On the even more hallucinatory Dream Well, about a sky-worshipping spirit which floats atop a bed of 12-string guitar, Owen's extended coda is a match for Tillett's night-flight of fancy. At the album's centre is a cover of Allen Toussaint's On Your Way Down, featuring just Tillett and Owen. It's a blues standard that's resonated down the years in countless other people's hands, but few have got to its essence as Tillett does. Taken slowly, Tillett's patience gives the morality play extra gravitas. He's watching and waiting: "The same dudes that you use on your way up, you might meet up on your way on down." The joyful Persephone's Dance is perhaps the album's high point. The verses are in waltz time before breaking into the chorus, wherein Tillett's piano and Spence's sax roll and tumble over one another like two children rolling down a hill together. In this instance the music is so lyrical it needs no words at all; remarkably, this instrumental song was released as a single. In a just world, it would have been a hit. It's not a just world. Louis Tillett has had a difficult life, battling serious mental illness and periods of homelessness. He is celebrated by a small coterie of admirers at home and abroad, and has the undying respect of some of this country's finest musicians. In 2000, a documentary was made about his life called A Night At Sea. It concludes with him admitting himself to a psychiatric hospital after a performance. The final song on Ego Tripping, Dead End Street In The Lucky Country, is the saddest, Owen's moaning slide guitar framing a down-and-out narrative: The telegraph wires are singing Soft words he cannot speak Siren's tears roll in his ears And quietly flood the desert street. If the song concludes Ego Tripping on a mournful note, it's far from depressing overall and I introduce you to it with near total confidence that you'll enjoy it. That's because it asks nothing of you - no particular musical taste or predilection - only that you accompany Louis on his strange, magical journey. At times, you might find yourself sitting in the gutter with him. And he'll be there alongside you, inviting you to look, look up, look at the stars." Andrew Stafford Twitter: @staffo_sez Andrew Stafford is currently writing a book - which is being shared while underway, along with his wonderful creative writing and journalism. You can become at Patron of his ongoing work, by following the link to the above article here:https://www.patreon.com/posts/16692291
Tillett recorded his debut solo album, Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell, with bandmates Ikinger and Spence; Burdett and Owen (both now ex-New Christs); and with Lenny Bastiaans on bass guitar. Tillett co-produced with Bruce Callaway, it was issued on Citadel Records during November 1987.Ian McFarlane (Author of the Australian Encylopedia of Rock and Pop) felt its style was a mix of "jazz, blues, R&B, pop and rock, making for fascinating and engrossing listening". Tillett told Stuart Coupe of The Canberra Times his motivation, "[it] was to play songs within a wide spectrum, everything from a full band through to a duet. It gets away from the expectations that people have with me of it always sounding like Wet Taxis". To promote his album, Tillett assembled a backing band, The Ego Trippers from Hell, and toured Australia. WIKIPEDIA.
When the Solo Journey Began...
Reviews and Interviews - from the Original Release
BEYOND THE EGO TRIPPING Author: STUART COUPE Date: 24/01/1988 Publication: Sun Herald
FEAR not, the independent scene in Australia is not quite as moribund as you might think - there's still life in them there grooves! Witness No 1 for The Defence is Louis Tillett whose first solo album, the wonderfully titled Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell, is as superb as anything released by an Australian artist in the past twelve months. Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell is a delightful synthesis of all the music styles that Tillett has been experimenting with over a decade of music with bands such as Wet Taxis and Paris Green - a mixture of jazz, soul and blues performed by a man with a rock'n'roll heart. Tillett's career started as singer and keyboard player with Wet Taxis in 1977 and subsequently he's played piano on records by Laughing Clowns, Celibate Rifles, Died Pretty, and the New Christs. During 1983 Tillett recorded with No Dance, an acoustic trio that also featured Brett Myers from Died Pretty and Damien Lovelock from Celibate Rifles. Prior to the recording of Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell Tillett was playing with Paris Green, a jazz and blues inspired outfit. The decision to record a solo album was out of a partial frustration with working within the confines of a band structure. "There's good and bad things about working with a band," Tillett said last week. "If it's successful the musicians come together and there's a power in it and you get a sound - but then you're restricted by that sound. "The idea of this record was to get away from expectations, and to get away from what people expect from Wet Taxis. "When kids are spending $5 or $6 to come and see Wet Taxis you have to fulfil your end of the bargain and be Wet Taxis." Tillett has always worked outside the mainstream of rock'n'roll, mainly because he doesn't want to play the games usually associated with mass success in this country. "The idea was to do something straight from the heart, something emotional," he said. "I think that music is failing miserably at the moment because it's dominated by marketing people who want to create something that's predictable "To me music is an indulgence in emotions whether it be happy, sad, or something in between." Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell does that magnificently and it's my guess that his concert date at The Mandarin Cinema (150 Elizabeth St, City) on Friday will be exactly the same. Tillett will be appearing with his twelve piece band, The Ego Trippers From Hell, along with a solo performance from Louis Burdett. Not to be missed, if you want my opinion.
"Trip to Kalu-Ki-Bar"
MAKING MOOD A MISSION Author: SUSAN CHARLTON Date: 22/01/1988 Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
DESCRIBED as "one of music's great unsmiling singers", images of Louis Tillett with his former band, Wet Taxis, show him to be a brooding, hairy figure, hunched in black over a microphone. The prospect of an interview was a little daunting. As it turned out, he very politely sipped a glass of mineral water - his substantial form taking up less room than it mathematically should have. If he did have a dark mission in life it was to consistently make the point that the music marketing industry ought to shape up or ship out. Also, he wanted to make clear that his preference was to work on collaborative projects and that his new record featured "some of the best musicians you'll hear in the world, I believe". Listening to his new album, Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell, is like watching a movie with your eyes closed. Its great swirling sounds suggest a well of vivid images. Guitarist Charlie Owen describes it as "quite a moody record. Everyone in the band understood the idea. It sounds emotionally concise". Apart from Louis on keyboards and vocal and Charlie's guitar, the record's combination of musicians includes jazz drummer Louis Burdett, base guitarist Lenny Bastiaans, known from Great White Noise, Penny Ikinger on guitar and Dianne Spence, formerly of Wet Taxis, on saxophone. Bringing these performers together for a one-off specific project certainly paid off in terms of sound and studio atmosphere. "There are good points and bad points about playing in a permanent line-up. The good points are that you get a group of people together and there's a connection there. If you're lucky you tend to develop a sound. The bad thing is that you are then committed and restricted to that sound. As a musician you're tied down. "The idea behind this record was to become involved in the musicianship of the different individual players. Everyone who played on this record was involved in something else. If we had said: 'We are a band', there would have been an outbreak of arguing and disagreement. "If this record had been done with session players though, it would have been a disaster - completely useless. The musicians on Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell have played music together at some stage before. We've been through some really good nights and some really bad nights." The ghost of The Doors can be heard stalking throughout the album. There is a particular home-grown quality to this sound that has developed over the past 10 years; a sound which includes, in its diverse family tree, bands from the Laughing Clown to Died Pretty. Louis isn't particularly partial to the sound of his own voice. "I ended up singing because no-one else would do it," he says. But Charlie Owen has the final say on this matter. "I think Louis's voice is fantastic. He is not like a lot of other singers who embellish the melodies to try to make them sound better. Not Louis. Mood and emotion are the most important things."
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