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David Lindley & Hani Naser "Official Bootleg", Pleemhead

July 29, 1993|RANDY LEWIS

If you missed Lindley and Naser's stunning shows last weekend at McCabe's in Santa Monica, here's the next best thing: a sparkling live recording of a Tokyo concert by Lindley, the wizard of anything with strings on it this side of a tennis racquet, and Naser, his Jordanian-American percussionist collaborator and neighbor.

It's no great surprise that Lindley decided to release this himself rather than go hat in hand to any of the major labels, asking them to put out 11 songs and 70 minutes of music played on the Turkish saz , electric oud or Hawaiian slide guitars, accompanied only by an armload of Middle Eastern hand drums. But the music Lindley and Naser make is wondrous, melding elements of Middle-Eastern, African, Chinese, Indian, Celtic and Central European traditional music with American rock, folk, jazz, blues and R & B, all laced with Lindley's loopy sense of humor.

Take his 11-minute treatment of Frizz Fuller and Richard Clark's "Rag Bag." It opens with a long, down-tempo Hawaiian guitar solo in which Lindley conjures images of some ancient Arabian town. After several minutes, Lindley dovetails into a brief, haunting melodic passage with roots in Stephen Foster, then shifts into high gear with a stinging slide blues over which he sings the lyrics: "The curb at my side, it is like home to me/Lying in the gutter, that's the life for me . . . I don't want to wash, I don't want to shave, I don't want to work like a (expletive) slave."

It's an unapologetic look at the down-and-out that says when you're hungry and homeless, it's no different if you're in Baghdad or Buena Park. At the same time, it says there are worse things in life than not having a job or a roof over your head.

In other songs by Lindley, Clifton Chenier, Professor Longhair and Danny O'Keefe, Lindley celebrates those who have lost love, work, world wars and, above all, he toasts those who, like himself, long ago abandoned the silly notion of taking life seriously.

The "Official Bootleg" CD can be ordered for $17 (postpaid) to Santa, P.O. Box 1342, Claremont, Calif., 91711.

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