Friday, May 13, 2011

Weekend Listomania (Special A Man and His Mucous Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what the means. Despite having been bloggered by Blogger for lo these many hours, my Oriental Callista Flockhartist Fah Lo Suee and I are off to the lovely campus of the University of West Georgia. Seems the University Players are staging a production of The First Wive's Club in honor of the just announced presidential bid by former UWG professor Newt Gingrich [R-Enormous Gasbag]. It is also rumored that after the performance, Gingrich himself will be on hand for a ceremony at University Stadium, during which he will donate his ego to the alumni fund.

That being the case, and because things will most likely be somewhat quiet around here until our return, here's yet another fun little project to help us wile away the hours and give some meaning to our otherwise shriekingly empty lives:

Best Post-Beatles (Live or Studio) Vocal Performance By a Guy or Gal With Just Their Own Guitar for Accompaniment!!!

No arbitrary rules whatsoever, you're welcome very much. The guitar in question can be either an electric or an acoustic, and I'm willing to stretch the premise to include performances in which the artiste occasionally makes noise with a harmonica.

Also -- post-Beatles in this context means after their initial appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. Leo Kottke -- Louise

Kottke is, plausibly, the best non-classical acoustic guitar player of the last several decades, and despite the fact that he's famously compared his singing to "geese farts on a muggy day," I also like what comes out of his mouth, as a rule. This 1972 studio version of the Paul Seibel folkie classic illustrates both my points; let's just say that when that mournful 12-string slide solo comes in after the "Good night, Louise, good night" at the song's finale, I usually lose it big time.

6. Peter Case -- Ain't Gonna Worry No More

Just a guy and his guitar walking around Los Angeles in 2007. I stumbled across this clip a year or two ago and it still floors me. Pardon the cliche, but if this doesn't give you chills seek medical atention.

5. Billy Bragg -- She Smiled Sweetly

I'm not sure exactly when this was done -- I first heard it on a MOJO sampler of Stones covers -- but it's an utterly charming version of one of Mick and Keith's overlooked gems.

4 Joni Mitchell -- Marcie

From her first (1968) album; gloriously melodic, rapturously sung, and a great example of how she managed to make non-traditional guitar tunings sound utterly natural and graceful. If you want to be pedantic, she's actually playing two guitars here, via discrete overdubbing, but essentially she's just doubling the part to fill out the sound a bit, so I'm going to let it go. When she did it live, it sounded just as gorgeous, frankly.

3. Robyn Hitchcock -- Broken Heart

The Skip Spence song, from the Oar covers album, and if memory serves actually recorded in Hitchcock's backyard garden. In any case, it's one of the two or three standout moments from that (worth looking for) tribute collection; Hitchcock totally gets the song's quite remarkable mix of droll wordplay, regret and madness.

2. Bob Dylan -- Visions of Johanna

Live, Down Under, in 1966, and I first heard it in the early 70s via the fabulous bootleg LP pictured above. Dylan's speeding his brains out (or so it sounds to me) in the tuning-up and intro part of the track, but once he lights into the song it's magesterial and mesmerizing; for my money it's the most genuinely haunted vocal performance of his entire career.

And the Numero Uno wandering minstrel performance of them all clearly has to be....

1. Paul Westerberg -- Answering Machine

A Replacements track, technically, but it's really just Westerberg, an electric guitar and the titular tape recorder. In any case, the most wrenchingly lonesome song in rock history, with the possible exception of about a zillion other Westerberg tunes.

Alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?


steve simels said...

BTW -- I broke down and legally downloaded the studio version of the Peter Case "Ain't Gonna Worry No More." Which is beyond belief, and if anybody wants it, e-mail me and I'll send you the mp3.

geor3ge said...

Are you familiar with Chris Smither?

One of my favorites from the coffeehouse circuit.

And I've sung the praises of Peter Mulvey before:

He's equal parts Smither and Kottke, and his stage presence is pure charisma.

steve simels said...

Chris Smither is one of the very, very few solo folkie guys with a guitar who I can watch without being reduced to scowling fidgets.

He's definitely the real deal.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Okay, it's a bit of a cheat because

a) his voice is double-tracked
b) there are either foot taps or hand claps keeping the rhythm
c) he's a Beatle

... but McCartney's "Blackbird" is just too lovely not to mention.

And there is (as you know) a wonderful live unplugged version of it floating around out there.

dave™© said...

I always liked Lennon's "Working Class Hero"...

cthulhu said...

It's technically a cheat because of two guitarists, but the Pete Townshend / John Williams acoustic version of Won't Get Fooled Again from the 1979 disc "The Secret Policeman's Ball" is brilliant on all counts. The other two Townshend numbers included (Pinball Wizard and Drowned) meet all the requirements and are marvelous as well.

The whole of Chris Whitley's "Dirt Floor" CD - haunting and beautiful, with all of his unique vocal power. The title track still brings me near to tears...

DFH in Dalmatia said...

Anything by Elizabeth Cotten.

Before I die I'd like to be able to pull off playing Freight Train Cotten-style, reverse hands. Imagine inventing that at age 12. She's an inspiration.

John Fowler said...

First, I will gratefully acknowledge Steve's choice of "Answering Machine" as No.1, and move on.

Some others I think are worth considering, although a few might have some less-than-obvious-to-me studio additions:

another from Billy Bragg - "Ingrid Bergman", off of Mermaid Avenue. I suppose this is about the sweetest way you could put together a song about lecherous intent.

the perfect closer for Girlfriend, by Matthew Sweet - "Nothing Lasts".

Steve Earle - "Goodbye", off of Train a Comin'.

Neil Young has a bunch of these, and I think my favorite is "Pocahontas", off of Rust Never Sleeps.

I suppose the obvious, but still great, of course: Big Star (Alex Chilton) - "I'm in Love with a Girl", off of Radio City.

Following up on chthulhu's lead, The Secret Policeman's Other Ball had Sting doing "Roxanne".

And a small cheat, as the studio version has a dubbed vocal in a couple of places - but the video/live performance satisfies the Listomania title:
Sinead O'Connor - "Black Boys on Mopeds", off of I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got.

steve simels said...

cthulhu said...

It's technically a cheat because of two guitarists, but the Pete Townshend / John Williams acoustic version of Won't Get Fooled Again from the 1979 disc "The Secret Policeman's Ball" is brilliant on all counts.

One of my favorite things ever -- I was actually hoping somebody would nominate it.

Anonymous said...

Pete Townshend on the Who's Sells Out with Sunrise.

Just about the most beautiful song ever performed and written in my humble opinion,

Pete is also my favorite acoustic guitar.


Karatist Preacher said...

Emitt Rhodes - many examples on the self-titled lp. 'Face On The Floor' and 'Somebody Made For Me' are great. He plays every instrument ala Skip Spence.

cthulhu said...

To nominate another Townshend number - Greyhound Girl, a track from "Lifehouse", is available in several places in a Townshend's vocal + 12 string acoustic. Saw him perform this live in La Jolla in 2001; a breathtakingly beautiful song. Both nights of this benefit show are available on the Who's web store.

Also nominate Springsteen's State Trooper from "Nebraska" - might have an overdub on it, but done very subtly if of the scariest things he ever did.

dave™© said...

BTW, Steve, I'm sorry your blog got caught up in Blogger's attempt to shut down Altmouse.

steve simels said...

Bless you...

Michael said...

Richard Thompson. If you've seen him him preform solo you know why.
1952 Vincent Black Lightning

Maude Lange said...

Answering Machine - definitely yup. Also just about any one of Alex Chilton's acoustic demos on the Big Star box set.

*d36e3v8 said...

There's a great version of "Answering Machine" to be found at The band is called Scout.

Anonymous said...

Me? I like the following:

Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley's version of the Leonard Cohen classic.

pete said...

Am I the only one who thinks "Broken Heart" sounds a lot like "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine"?

Verification word: stenchik