Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday Deep Thought

Why are there so few good Beach Boys/Brian Wilson covers?

Here's the only one I can think of top of my head -- Grant Lee Buffalo's heart-stoppingly beautiful grunge take on "In My Room," from the Friends soundtrack.

Damn -- I know there must be some others, but I'm absolutely drawing a blank.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Believe It Or Not, There WAS a Time When Rod Stewart Wasn't an Asshole...

...although I realize that our younger readers may find the idea preposterous. Still, here's Exhibit A in that regard; from his 1972 solo album Never a Dull Moment, please enjoy "True Blue."

This was the follow-up single to "You Wear It Well," and I for one think it's even better. In fact, it's pretty much the apotheosis of what we think of Rod's style circa "Maggie May," which is to say it's just as touching but rocks harder than either of those two, IMHO.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Girl With Colitis Goes By....

Sad news just in over the wires.

LONDON (AP) — The real life Lucy from The Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" has died after a long fight against lupus. The death of Lucy Vodden at age 46 has been announced by St. Thomas' Hospital in London, where she was treated. The hospital said Monday she died after battling the disease for years.Vodden came to the attention of John Lennon when the Beatles' young son Julian came home from school one day with a drawing that he said was "Lucy in the sky with diamonds."

As I said, sad news indeed. Especially given that Mean Mr. Mustard still walks the streets a free man.

The Letter "U" and the Numeral "2"

Caught U2 at the soon to be demolished Giants Stadium on Wednesday. Good show, by and large, although this particular well-intentioned birthday tribute to Bruce Springsteen kind of sucked.

That said, I had a perhaps amusing difference of opinion about the concert with a certain Shady Dame.

Her (having seen U2 seven times previously):
"You know, Bono really is kind of an asshole."

Me (seeing U2 for the first time):
"You know, Bono really isn't as big an asshole as I expected."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special George Constanza "It's Not You It's Me" Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental groinal maintenance engineer Fah Lo Suee and I will be off to Paris, France where we'll be attending the annual "Hideously Goofy Eye Wear" tradeshow along with Bono of U2. He never misses it!

So posting by moi will more than likely be sporadic for a little while.

But in the meantime, here's another little project for us all:

Band or Artist That Most Makes You Go "Can Someone Please Explain What the Hell the Fuss About This Band or Artist is All About?"

You know...rock or pop or r&b acts that lots of people whose opinions you respect seem to dig the most but for the life of you can't figure out why.

Oh -- and a coveted PowerPop No-Prize obviously goes to commenter Anonymous, who suggested this theme during last week's desperate cry for help. I thank you, my nameless friend!

Okay, and my totally top of my head Top Six is:

6. Swans

Doom and gloom and minimalist droning, usually at volume levels that make your ears bleed. Actually, I only ever knew one guy who really loved this band, but since he was a bit of a genius I give them a try from to time. Never works.

5. The Cocteau Twins

These long-running Brits are supposed to be....what? Some kind of hauntingly ambient Celtic whatsis, I guess; all I know is lots of people swear by them but to my ears they just sound kind of watery and uninteresting. Sorry

4. Kings of Leon


Don't get 'em at all, except for the earnest angst. Which would be a great name for a folk singer, now that I think of it.

3. Genesis with Peter Gabriel

He finally lost me with the Mr. Potato Head outfit, but even this earlier and relatively straightforward performance reduces me to scowling fidgets. Seriously -- I like a lot of Gabriel's 80s output, and the Phil Collins version of Genesis was an argreeable hit machine, to be sure. But the 70s prog stuff?

2. The Killers

Forget their music, which strikes me as mediocre and derivative at best, but if anybody has a clue about those feathered epaulets on the singer please e-mail me.

And the numero uno artiste that make me go "Huh?" but other folks seem to grok to the nth degree is...

1. Fleet Foxes

What I hear from these guys is a mediocre early 70s Southern California folk-pop band, like America without the chops and with even less charisma, but apparently I'm missing something. Bueller? Bueller?

Alrighty then -- and your choices would be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best films about the heroic struggle of the Little Guy against the odds!!! -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could take a moment to go over there and leave some sort of snark in the comments section it would help keep me in good with management. Thanks!]

Thursday, September 24, 2009

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special What the Hell is That? Edition

From 2006, please enjoy the irrespressible GWAR doing to Alice Cooper's classic "School's Out" pretty much what they do to everything.

As always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who gleans its relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Greetings From NYC!

Well, here's another one that got away. From 1980, please enjoy my old pals The Mix and their sprightly cover of Van Morrison's "Glad Tidings."

These guys should have been big; they were managed by Leber & Krebs, who also handled some band called Aerosmith (the Mix's album -- American Glue -- came out on L&K's custom label), and they were a genuinely exciting live act. Frontman Stu Daye, in particular, was as annoyingly talented and natural a rocker as anybody I've ever seen -- think Steve Marriott with Pete Townshend's guitar moves. Still, although they were quite a big deal in the New York area for a while, they never broke through; if I had to guess why, I'd say it's because the record didn't really do them justice. For which I blame rather lackluster production by the late Felix Pappalardi.

Incidentally, the band's drummer was the great Corky Laing, of Mountain fame. The bass player was David Grahame, an old bandmate of mine who I haven't heard from in a while but who's apparently become something of a powerpop cult figure over the years. It thus pains me to mention that to (perhaps) his eternal shame, his major credit remains co-writing the soul-destroying Mr. Big hit "To Be With You."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why Wasn't I Told?

Courtesy of Pandora, I've come across a sort of Partridge protege, Martin Newell. I like this, but it never made a dent here. Enjoy!

More Tales From the Intertubes

Okay, this is a true story, I swear to god.

Last Saturday -- a Jewish holiday, which is not germane, although I had just dined on a very nice brisket -- I was on the bus heading into NYC when a completely obscure album I hadn't thought about in ages popped into my head unbidden. I couldn't for the life of me remember the name of it or the band that made it. But I knew the album was on Sire, that it was released in the late 70s, that the band had played CBGBs, that the LP (never to my knowledge on CD) had a striking cover image, and that there was at least one song from it that absolutely slayed me -- or so I remembered; I hadn't heard it for decades.

Bottom line is it was driving me bonkers all day and then -- again, I swear to god -- I was web surfing on Sunday and suddenly there was the album cover and a link to a transfer from the original vinyl.

Ladies and gentlemen, from 1979, please enjoy Alda Reserve and their seductively melodic and suspiciously Television-esque should-have-been-a-New-Wave-hit "Dressing for Love."

Hey -- now that I've heard it again I'm pleased to discover that I still think it's a great song, although I also now recall that absolutely nobody agreed with me about it back in the day. Of Alda Reserve, I can find little or no info except that demented death dwarf and Springsteen leech Dave Marsh panned them in Rolling Stone and that the guy who wrote and sang the song was keyboardist Brad Ellis. Whatever happened to him subsequently has, so far at least, been lost to history.

Anyway, the rest of the album is almost equally strong; if you're interested, you can download it here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

In honor of the first day of Autumn, and well, because I really like it, here's the Kinks' 1967 single Autumn Almanac released on October 13th of that year. I always get a kick out of Dave's foppish Elizabethan threads from this era!

Stones in My Passway

Here's an interesting curio you might not have heard: From 1965, it's Levon and the Hawks with their folk-rocking flop single "The Stones I Throw (Will Free All Men)."

You know those guys better as The Band, of course. The chronology is a little vague, but apparently the record was made just prior to hooking up with Bob Dylan (live and in the studio) throughout 1966, but before they actually changed their name. In any case, as you can hear, they already pretty much had what we consider both the classic Band sound and the whole Dylan thing post-"Like a Rolling Stone" figured out.

Oh, and this is a nice little postscript -- more or less the demo for the song. It's just Robbie Robertson, wired after a club gig, singing and playing it into a home tape recorder in a motel room on the Jersey Shore a few months before the official recording of the single.

Incidentally, both of these tracks first surfaced on CD in 1994 on the terrific Band box set A Musical History.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Rhythm of the Saints

And speaking as we were last week of the late Jim Carroll -- obviously "People Who Died" is better known, but for my money "I Want the Angel" is the best track on Catholic Boy.

An all but perfect rock record, I think -- three chords (but the right three chords), a fabulous lyric ("I want the angel/That knows rejection/She's like a whore in love with her own reflection" -- damn, if that isn't poetry), a vocal with just the right air of on-the-nod conviction, the usually useless Alan Lanier of BOC covering himself in glory on the piano, and of course that ascending octave thing in the buildup (a hook that's almost classical in its gorgeousness).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special Somebody Help Me Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means.

Actually, in this case, it means I'm going to punt for the first time in over two years. Due to a combination of poor scheduling, work load and simple burnout, I just couldn't get a real Listomania together this week.

But I thought this might actually work to our mutual advantage.

So since posting by moi will be a little slow for a few days, here's a possibly interesting project for us all:

Weekend Listomania Theme YOU'D Most Like to See!!!

No arbitrary rules, obviously. Let your imagine run riot. Go mental if you want to.

Really -- I need all the help I can get.

Alrighty then -- what would your ideas be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: Okay guys, I realize I don't deserve your help this week, but my parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: most memorable performance by a charactor actor -- is nonetheless now up over at Box Office. And if you could just see your way to go over there -- at your leisure, of course -- and leave some kind of snark I'd be your best friend. Bless you.]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special 'There's No There There' Edition

From 1979, featuring a riff suspiciously similar to that which animates a certain anthem by one of the more prominent songwriters in New Jersey history (but it's a great song anyway so who cares), please enjoy the irrepressible Bram Tchaikovsky and his fiendishly catchy ode to sex with someone you love (but don't have to dress your best for), the great "Girl of My Dreams."

As always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first reader who gleans the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Helpful hint: It's got nothing to do with masturbation. You're welcome.

Mary Travers 1936 - 2009

Here she is with PP&M, in what I've always thought their best moment, at least on record.

And in related news: CNN reports that Kanye West just interrupted the Patrick Swayze funeral, claiming Michael Jackson had a better death.

The Girl Who Put the You Know What Back in Country

From 1978, produced by her soon-to-be future hubby Nick Lowe, and featuring stellar back-up by Graham Parker's ace band The Rumour, please enjoy Carlene Carter -- daughter of June Carter and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash -- and her debut single "Never Together But Close Some Time." Written by brother-in-law Rodney Crowell, who went on to marry Roseanne Cash.

I've loved this song since the 7-inch vinyl days, and Carlene's done several others equally swell over the years, although this one's country-pop/reggae fusion is pretty much sui generis. That said, I would just like to go on record as admitting that although I attended at least one of Carlene's Bottom Line shows in '78, I was not -- alas -- in the audience when the then 23-year-old hellraiser famously made the comment referenced in the title of this post. (In the presence of her mother, I might add).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"One of the Best Videos of All Time"

Or so sayeth Kanye West at the VMAs the other day.

I really hope Kanye was kidding, BTW. It's an appallingly terrible song on all sorts of levels, and the clip has all the sophisticated sensuality of an old 80s aerobics tape.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Color of Money

According to London's Daily Mail, Mick Taylor, former Rolling Stone and one of the great rock guitarists of the last forty years, is living in genteel squalor and stone cold broke. And hasn't seen any royalties since 1981.

‘By 1974, I felt I’d gone as far as I could with the band. I didn’t think they’d stay together. Mick and Keith weren’t talking or working together and it was taking longer and longer to make the albums. So as well as Keith’s addiction there was Mick’s frustration and my own disenchantment and disillusionment with them.’

'We used to fight and argue all the time. And one of the things I got angry about was that Mick had promised to give me some credit for some of the songs – and he didn’t.

‘I believed I’d contributed enough. Let’s put it this way – without my contribution those songs would not have existed. There’s not many but enough, things like "Sway" and "Moonlight Mile" on Sticky Fingers and a couple of others."

Sorry the Daily Mail link is down, but the bottom line is if you read the story, it's obvious that Taylor indeed got the shaft. But on the other hand, as he famously observed a few years ago -- he IS the only guy to have quit the Rolling Stones and lived.

In any case, I love Taylor's style. Here's a track featuring him you might not have heard -- a brilliant live version of "Bye Bye Johnny" from the Stones' 1972 show at Madison Square Garden.

Keith, of course, is playing the brilliant but traditional Chuck Berry riffs you hear on the right channel. What Taylor is playing as counterpoint on the left, however, is on another level altogether.

Monday, September 14, 2009

And Speaking of Gorgeous... promised the other day, here's the 1987 remix of The Byrds' masterpiece, the David Crosby-penned 1966 A-side "Lady Friend."

Incidentally, Never Before, which came out on the indie Murray Hill label, was the first above-ground album featuring Byrds outtakes and rarities, but once Sony refurbished the Byrds catalog in the 90s, it was more or less disappeared. And with it went the vastly superior stereo remix (by original Byrds manager Jim Dickson) of "Mr. Tambourine Man," which makes the ones on all current Sony Byrds CDs sound retarded, if you'll pardon the word. (I posted that one a while back; if you can't find it, e-mail me and I'll shoot it to you.)

This "Lady Friend" is something a little different. Apparently Crosby did the remix himself, trying to make it sound as contemporary as possible, and that may or may not have included dubbing a new drum part over the Mike Clarke original (whoever was the percussionist in Crosby's 80s touring band did the deed, or so it's rumored).

I don't know if any of that's true, but I do know that this version does in fact sound far more modern than the version on the official Byrds CDs at the moment; whether that's a good or a bad thing I'll leave to the purists amongst us.

It is, however, absolutely fricking glorious. I think you'll agree...

Postscript: Somebody asked for the original single remix on the official Sony Byrds CDs. Here it is.

Compare and contrast.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special That's a New One On Me! Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental Tupelo Honey Viagra Vixen Fah Lo Suee and I are off to join Emily Litella at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. for a weekend panel on the Pubic Option.

Seriously -- what's the deal with that?

So posting by moi will more than likely be sporadic for a little while.

But in the meantime, here's another little project for us all:

Most Memorable or Revelatory Previously Un-Released (or Bonus) Track By a Major or Minor Artist!!!

No arbitrary rules this time; I was going to say studio stuff only, but on reflection that strikes me as needlessly restrictive. And obviously, bootlegs are okay.

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. Fountains of Wayne -- Trains and Boats and Planes

I've always loved the Dionne Warwick/Bert Bachrach original of this. But what a neat surprise to find out that Adam Schlesinger isn't just a fricking genius -- he's also a sentimental old fluff.

6. The Zombies -- Imagine the Swan

This first surfaced as a bonus track on a two-LP Zombies best-of Columbia put out in '74, at which time it completely blew my tiny mind. Actually, it's a post-Zombies/pre-Argent demo, but damned if it doesn't have that whole Odessey and Oracle gorgeousness in spades.

5. The Rolling Stones -- Cops and Robbers

The first live Stones bootleg I ever heard -- I wrote about the mysterious circumstances surrounding my getting it back in June -- and the very definition of revelatory. Early Stones in stereo -- holy crap!!!!

4. The Beatles -- She's Leaving Home (backing track)

Strings gorgeously arranged by Mike Leander, who also did the Stones' "As Tears Go By." A great piece of writing, I think, and a bit of a stunner without the vocals.

3. Simon and Garfunkel -- The Breakup

Tucked away on Garfunkel's 1993 greatest hits album -- the REAL story of what happened between Paul and Artie. Absolutely hilarious.

2. The Who -- Glow Girl

The prequel to Tommy, and a hell of a lot more succinct. Odds and Sods was a great collection of mostly unfamiliar or unreleased Who stuff, and this was hands down my favorite track.

And the numero uno "Where the Hell Did That Come From?" track of all time obviously is ---

1. The Rising Sons-- 2:10 Train

Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder before either of them shaved. Seriously, the Rising Sons -- the other great L.A. band of the 60s with an African-American lead singer -- never made an album during their run, so when this was finally released in the early 90s -- along with eleven other finished cuts that had languished unheard in the Columbia vaults since 1965 -- it took everybody, myself included, by complete surprise. Unplugged before there was such a term, this is also about as spine-tingling as it gets.

Alrighty then -- and your choices would be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best pre-Star Wars movies with an outer space theme -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to going over there and leaving a snarky comment, it would make it that much easier for me to try to beg a little extra money out of management in advance of my forthcoming hopefully romantic trip to Paris with a certain Shady Dame. Thanks!]

Thursday, September 10, 2009

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Unfinished Business Edition

From 1965 (and the 1996 reissue of the Turn! Turn! Turn! album) please enjoy the David Crosby-penned backing track for The Byrds' uncompleted yet sci-fi themed "Stranger in a Strange Land."

The Byrds never finished this, for reasons that have never been satisfactorily explained to my knowledge, but what survives is, as they say, a hot one. Apparently there are lyrics somewhere, and some group actually covered it, with Crosby's blessing, at some point; if anybody has a clue, I'd love the details. Personally, I've always thought some smart alt-rock guy should write his own lyrics to the track and dub stuff on top of it.

In any case, as always a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded the first listener who gleans the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Thursday Deep Thought

Bob Dylan's Self Portrait cover version of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" -- sung as a cacophonous duet between his early protest and later Nashville Skyline voices -- may be the most hideously awful record ever made.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

My Back Pages

Okay, I wasn't going to do this for a while, but the photo below just resurfaced after a couple of decades so I thought I'd get all self-indulgent once more.


From 1983, then, please enjoy Greenwich Village's finest, the fabulous Floor Models, and their should-have-been hit single "You'll Come Around."

The song -- IMHO sublime in its Buddy Holly-ness -- is by the great Andy "Folk Rock" Pasternack [second from left] who's also playing the cool twelve-string stuff. It's sung by the irrepressible Gerry Devine, seen here [second from right] in a borrowed sport jacket. The guy on the left, whose name rhymes with Sleeve Nimels, is the bass player; drummer extraordinaire Glen "Bob" Allen is on the right.

I really hadn't seen the above shot in ages and on the one hand, in retrospect, I think we're kind of cute. On the other hand, of course, as an old friend from back then said when she eyed it over the weekend, "It kind of looks like Gerry and the Shnooks."

Incidentally, the picture was taken by the wonderful Irene Young, who at the time (late 70s/early 80s) was more or less the official photographer of the Bleecker Street revival.

God, I hope we paid her...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hey Hey We're the Monks

As promised, from 1995, here are the guys from Big Daddy, doing business as The Benzedrine Monks of Santo Domonica, going all Gregorian on Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart's immortal Theme From the Monkees.

Obviously, they were too busy singing to put anybody down.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Democracy, Bitches!


Today is the day, the last day of the Shoetube video contest. You need to get over there, kill some time watching these videos (some charming, some kind of odd, but hey, that's the internet....) and decide on your faves. Post comments on the vids at Youtube (double clicking should take you right there), or comment here--there's lots to see.

Oops! A late entry!

Happy Labor Day!

And as we promised over at Friday's Listomania, here's the incomparable Big Daddy (from their 1988 debut album) doing a familiar John Williams movie theme as it might have been recorded in a collaboration between The Ventures and Duane Eddy.

This has absolutely no relevance to the holiday whatsoever, you understand -- I've just always gotten a kick out of the track and felt like sharing.

BTW, I just discovered that the rest of the album (which is equally inventive) can be downloaded (gratis!) over here.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special Great Thoughts of Western Man Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental amanuensis Fah Lo Suee and I are off to my old elementary school in Teaneck, New Jersey, which I will be encasing, a la Christo, in triple-ply tin foil to ward off President Scary Black Guy's brainwashing rays during Tuesday's Education speech.

Please -- can't we all just think of the children?

So posting by moi will more than likely be sporadic for a little while.

But in the meantime, here's another little project for us all:

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Rock or Pop Concept Album!!!

Self-explanatory, I think, but for purposes of clarity, when I use the term "concept album" I simply mean a record in which some overarching theme, however tenuous, is discernible. As a result no arbitrary rules this time, although I should think you'd be embarassed to nominate a generic greatest hits package.

And my totally top of my head Top Six is:

6. Marty Robbins -- Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs

From 1959, a genuine crossover classic; "El Paso" (you can download the full-length version from the CD reissue at the link above) is the best known cut, but the whole album works. That's Robbins on the cover, BTW, and in case you didn't notice he's doing Richard Boone as Palladin from Have Gun, Will Travel.

5. The Turtles -- Present the Battle of the Bands

The concept here is that the Turtles play each cut in a different style, from surf to country to hard rock, in post Sgt. Pepper guise as other bands. It's not really pursued all that rigorously, but since it features "Elenore" and the above gorgeous take on the early Byrds outtake "You Showed Me," I've always cut them a little slack.

4. Godfrey Daniel -- Take a Sad Song

An absolutely astounding record, sung and played by two staff engineers at Atlantic in 1970 under the W.C. Fields-ian pseudonym. The concept: Then contemporary rock songs done in a variety of earlier styles, like a Billy Eckstein version of "Them Changes" or a doo-wop/Del Shannon "Woodstock." Hilarious, brilliant stuff, and alas not in print at the moment (I tried to find a downloadable version online to no avail). You can, however, listen to samples from all twelve cuts over here.

3. Garth Brooks -- the Life of Chris Gaines

Brooks in his bizarre incarnation as a supposedly legendary 90s alt-rocker. I don't care if the damn thing sold two million copies -- it's a prime contender for biggest What the Fuck Was He Thinking? album in music history.

2. Hal Wilner et al -- Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music From Vintage Disney Films

Click the link to hear (or download) Tom Waits doing the scariest version of "Heigh Ho" imaginable. My favorite cut from what remains my favorite of the several terrific theme albums masterminded by Wilner.

And the most memorable for whatever reason High Concept rock or pop album obviously is --

1. The Paragons and The Jesters -- The Paragons Meet the Jesters

The very first (after the fact) thematic rock compilation (1959), and thanks to the brilliantly art-directed leather bar juvenile delinquent cover photo -- let's face it, Lou Reed based an entire esthetic on it -- still one of the most iconic.

Alrighty then -- and who would your choices be?

[h/t Joy Brodsky Thurston]

(Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best screen performance by a an actual real (non-animated) animal -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to going over there and leaving a snarky comment, I'd be your best friend.)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Talk About Bad Taste!

I laughed my butt off.

An Early Clue to the New Direction: Special Atheists Welcome Edition

From 1970 and the epochal Plastic Ono Band album, please enjoy John Lennon's still remarkable and remarkably moving farewell to all that, "God."

As always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the clip's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.

Hey Hey We're the Monkeys

You know, some days it just boggles my mind that billions of dollars and countless hours of research and development from the finest minds in history produced the Internet.

Thus allowing me to find...this.

To be honest, I loved this show -- a James Bond parody featuring an all chimp cast -- back in the day. (I was going to say "when I was a kid," but then I realized it aired in 1970, when I was in my early twenties. Oops.) And to be equally honest, what's scary is that the song above -- the lead track from the show's soundtrack album -- is actually pretty good in a "More cowbell!" kind of way.

In any case, you can download the rest of the album, for free, over here. If you do, of course, I should like to meet you, if not perhaps to shake your hand.

Oh, and by the way, that link is courtesy of astounding archivist Leonard Los, who does business as redtelephone66. There's stuff on his site that will flat out boggle your mind; make sure you tell him we said hello when you're over there.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Cry the Beloved Country

Okay, I haven't been completely self-indulgent around here for a month or so, so I guess it's time again.

So -- from 1995, please enjoy the original mix of "A Drop of Rain," by Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams. A song which in slightly altered form appears on the album below, and which features Larry Durrell (who appears courtesy of his Alexandria Quartet) on bass and keyboards. (Me, in other words.)

The short version: The song is written (and sung) by my bandmate for many years, the aforementioned Gerry Devine. Gerry was moved to write it after watching Ken Burns The Civil War documentary; the song is about the fact that despite enormous progress towards racial equality, far too little has changed in this country since that awful historical moment. Fourteen years after we recorded it, it seems surprisingly pertinent, alas; something to do with certain people's reaction to the president being a N**-clang.

In any case, the album version has a slightly different lyric and a mix that's always struck me as a little less gorgeous than this first version. I should also add that one of the great thrills of my adult life came when the legendary Vin Scelsa played the album track on his Idiots Delight show on WXRK-FM (K-Rock) in New York City. I learned an interesting lesson that night -- apparently radio stations have some kind of gizmo that makes your music sound better than it actually is.

[h/t Steve Schwartz, who just sent me the superior restored version now in the clip]

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Deep Thought

So I caught It Might Get Loud over the weekend. Interesting movie, especially for guitar geeks, but for the life of me I can't figure what Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin and The Edge from U2 are doing together with Jack White from Whitesnake.

Okay, that's my idea of a little joke, obviously.

In all seriousness, however, it's terrific, although in the interest of full disclosure the nine year old girl sitting in front of us at the screening we attended did whine "That was the most boring movie I've ever seen" when it was over.

That said, one omission really stood out. Both Page and White speak at length, eloquently, about the music and musicians that inspired them, from Link Wray (Page playing air guitar to "Rumble" in his record room is particularly hilarious) to Son House.

But from The Edge -- not a word about anything that might be construed as his roots. The closest you get is that at one point he watches some clips of some truly heinous Brit top 40 stuff from the 70s (on Top of the Pops) and says "We[U2] knew what we didn't want to sound like."

I'm not sure what this means or if it's even significant, but it did strike me as...well, like I said -- odd.

[h/t Wendy Cohen]