Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bandcrush: Bill Lloyd

Those who know me know that I get weird obsessions with artists where they become the only thing I listen to for weeks and weeks. I'm on one now, with the venerable and supercool (and quite friendly) pop god Bill Lloyd.

Lloyd was half of the country-pop duo Foster and Lloyd, and his country credentials are pristine. He was Rhett Miller before there was a Rhett Miller, exploring the melodic world where pop and country coexist. Consider, for example, Foster and Lloyd's "Texas in 1880," or "What Do You Want from Me This Time?".

A Kentucky boy, Lloyd resides in Nashville now, where he is the Stringed Instrument Curator at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Like any bandcrush, there's the general fascination with the career, but then also a more specific obsession with particular songs or phases or albums. For me, there are a couple of reasons to crush on Lloyd. One is his lush, gorgeous cover of "Step Inside" on Sing Hollies in Reverse. It's all over my ipod these days. You can hear a clip at Amazon: trust me.

Another is his terrific album from the mid-90's, Set to Pop. Even in that era of powerpop resurgence, the record stands out. A couple of reviews from Lloyd's site:

"Set to Pop is in that stratospheric big league with Zuma, Pet Sounds, and Revolver.. hit the random button and glow." David Sokol, Stereophile

"..he concocts a brand of pop that recalls the glory days of Squeeze and Big Star. His relentlessly tuneful writing is a joy for anyone who likes a song with lots of bang and just a touch of twang." Bob Cannon, Entertainment Weekly

"On Set to Pop, he keenly assimilates those British and American '60's,'70's and '80's pop and folk-rock influences and polishes them into a near flawless contemporary masterpiece for the '90s. David Sokol, CD Review

"It's filled with little gems like the bittersweet, catchy "A Beautiful Lie", the wacky "Trampoline" and the endearingly goofy "Chanelling the King". Lloyd artfully blends his obvious influences- Big Star, Dave Edmunds and The Beatles- with his own slightly left of center sensibilities." Melinda Newman, Billboard

"This is one of those pure-pop delights that seems to come along only once every couple of years." Randy Lewis, The Los Angeles Times

So obviously, right up our alley. I like "I Went Electric" and "In a Perfect World," particularly, but I'm head-over-heels for "Trampoline," the greatest song about manic depression ever written.

God bless our daily bread
Coffee and dramamine
God bless her ups and downs
God damn the trampoline

And there's this boingy-boingy jaw harp all over it and it's just terrific. The only video from the album is "Channeling the King."

Recently, Lloyd has been involved in a couple of really cool projects: The Climate Project (he played a songwriter's night for "The Man Who Shoulda’ Been President"), The Freedom Sings Program through the First Amendment Center, and, less politically, The Long Players, about whom I blogged here.

The Long Players are up again in a couple of weeks, playing Derek & the Dominoes' “Layla” at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville on July 27. Tip a glass for me, fellas! (Still hoping to catch them, but between Squeeze/FOW on August 3 and Shoes in Chi-town on August 10, I've spent my Stupid Irresponsible Music Budget for the summer.)


steve simels said...

Another amazing Lloyd cover is "Going Nowhere to Night" on the Raspberries tribute album Preserved.. The original is a not particularly memorable sort of country rock tune -- Lloyd turns it Big Star meets the Who, and it's to die for.

Did I ever tell you that my band opened for Foster and Lloyd at the Bottom Line in the late 80s? Super nice guys...

Kid Charlemagne said...

Great post Mary, and thanks for the update on Bill. Don't forget the recent Bill Lloyd & Jamie Hoover (of the Spongetones) disc "Paparazzi" too. I first heard of him from his "Feeling the Elephant" disc back in 1990 and have been a fan ever since. He is also the undisputed king of the tribute disc too!

Rhino Handmade also released a collection of demos by the Sky Kings which included Rusty Young of Poco, Bill Lloyd of Foster & Lloyd and John Cowan of New Grass Revival. The record sounds a lot like Poco if you are into that sorta thing.

refinnej said...

"And there's this boingy-boingy jaw harp all over it and it's just terrific."

That jaw harp kicks all kinds of ass.

TMink said...

Feeling the Elephant was my introduction to Bill, and I was doing some photography for RCA in Nashville when He and Radney got together. He was always a very nice fellow when I bumped into him to say hello.

But having bought some Apples in Stereo and The Strokes on Wednesday, I am getting damn tired of these posts that make me wasnt to spend more money on music.

This blog is getting too expensive for me.

Keep it up.


Kid Charlemagne said...

Hey Trey,

I took a peek at your pics and that shot of Elvis was really awesome. Well done sir!

TMink said...

Thanks KC! Sad to say, I have lots of great shots of Pablo Cruise and Molley Hatchet too (shudder.) The shame of it all.


Anonymous said...

I have "Set To Pop", gleaned from a bargain bin for a buck ninety-nine. He gets help from the incomparable Marshall Crenshaw! [swoon, thud]

I love Foster and Lloyd - and for twang, you can't beat Radney Foster's "Del Rio, TX 1959" cd.