Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Keith's Record Collection™

[I originally posted this back in early 2011, when this blog and the world were young. I'm putting it up again, for reasons that will become obvious, and -- also -- because I love you all more than food. Enjoy.]

So I'm reading Keith Richards' Life at the moment; so far, it's absolutely fascinating, and I haven't even gotten to the part where he and Mick start to get the Stones together.

More to the point, toward the end of Chapter Two, Keith talks about records he actually owned in his formative years, rock and rockabilly LPs and singles that shaped his musical tastes circa 1959, and he mentions a couple of "forgotten jewels." In particular a 45 I will confess to having never heard or heard of -- Johnny Restivo's "The Shape I'm In."

Which turns out to have a rather, er, interesting pedigree.

Johnny (John Charles) Restivo was born in the North Bronx, New York September 13, 1943. He enrolled in Cliffside Park Junior High School, New Jersey and was graduated in June of 1958. In 1959 Johnny was discovered by Joe Mulhall and Paul Neff and in June 9, 1959 he recorded "The Shape I'm In" and "Ya, Ya" at RCA Victor in New York City with Paul Simon (aka Jerry Landis) playing guitar on both tracks.

Not a bad little record, I'd say (and it's certainly still startling to hear early rock stuff like that in such excellent stereo). But on balance it strikes me as a tad (shall we say) inauthentic, at least compared to the Elvis and Buddy Holly records Keith was grooving on in 1959.

And for some reason, I neglected to include the song itself back in the aughts, an oversight I am now correcting.

On the other hand, compared to most of the homegrown Brit rock that was around at the time it probably sounded like a work of genius. But that's a subject for another post.

I should also add that you can download a high quality of the original Restivo album that's from -- for free at the invaluable Old Melodies blog -- over HERE. Just scroll down when you get there to find a teeny-weeny CD link.

You're welcome.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Okay, I Was Wrong and I'm Big Enough to Admit It.

Robert Fripp and Toyah Wilcox take the (you should pardon the expression) mickey out of the Stones' "Satisfaction."

Fun, in a goofy way, and I hearby apologize to Mr. Fripp.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

We Interrupt Mr. and Mrs. Steve Earle Week to Bring You the Greatest Topical Song of the Current Century

From the privacy of their individual homes, Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl wax poetic over the state of the pandemic.

This is a masterpiece. Period, full stop, end of story. And I don't want to hear another fucking word about prog-rock.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

It's the Duck and Doochess of Earle Week: Part II

From 2000, please enjoy spectacular country music warbler Allison Moorer (the ex Mrs. Steve Earle) and her utterly gorgous "The Hardest Part."

Too bad they're not still a couple. And wait till you hear what I'm posting tormorrow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

It's the Duck and Doochess of Earle Week: Part 1 -- Life in the Foodchain

From his masterpiece 2007 album Washington Square Serenade, please enjoy the great Steve Earle (and his lovely and talented ex-wife Allison Moorer) and their prescient lament for the gentrification of Manhattan "Down Here Below."

I saw Joe Mitchell's ghost on a downtown 'A' train/ He just rides on forever now that the Fulton Fish Market's shut down/ He said 'they ain't never gonna get that smell out of the water/ I don't give a damn how much of that new money they burn'

Now Hell's Kitchen's Clinton and the Bowery's Nolita/ And the East Village's creepin' 'cross the Williamsburg Bridge/ And hey, whatever happened to Alphabet City?/ Ain't no place left in this town that a poor boy can go

It doesn't get much better than that, and the music's as good as the lyrics.

But wait till you hear the one I put up tomorrow.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Me: A Culpa

I hope everyone who took offense to Friday's post understood that I was being at least partially tongue-in--cheek. Obviously, there is no genre of music -- with the possible exception of polka -- that is totally without value. So -- apologies to prog-rock fans.

That said, I would be remiss if I didn't note that the reaction to said post is proof of the late Pete Hamill's famous maxim -- that you should never employ irony in a Third World country.

Also, if you like Rush, have a word with yourself.

Friday, April 09, 2021

It's Self-Indulgence Week: Part V -- Like an Orange That Turns Up Juiceless, Bands Like King Crimson Are Just Plain Useless

First of all, let's establish our terms.

All -- and I mean ALL -- of what's called prog-rock completely sucks. The only thing it exists for is to remind you how great the real Beethoven and the real Yardbirds actually were.

That said, the one band who might be described as prog that is worth a fucking damn -- and it's more accurate to characterize them as classical-rock fusion -- is the stupdendously great Procol Harum.

Who achieved a seamless (and conceptually brilliant) melange of gospel (via Ray Charles organ/piano) and J.S. Bach.

And as an example, from their 1967 debut album, please enjoy their haunting -- and a song I've been trying to learn the piano part for, with zero success, over a period of 50 years -- "Salad Days (Are Here Again)."

And to every pretentious whey-faced British prog-rocker -- particularly Robert Fripp (aka the World's Most Boring Guitarist Who Isn't Frank Zappa) and anybody who ever played in Yes (with the exception of Rick Wakeman, who's a fun guy) -- please go fucking fuck yourself and your utterly sterile and soul-less music toot sweet. Thank you very much.

And may I add another fuck you to Robbie Robertson of The Band, who (in)famously said, when asked about Procol, that everything they did "was vaguely reminiscent of that Percy Sledge thing."

Fuck you, Robbie. Get back to me when anything you've ever done was as good as PH.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!

Thursday, April 08, 2021

It's Self-Indulgence Week: Part IV -- And Now...Her Nibs!!!

From 1972, and the brilliant album National Lampoon's Radio Dinner...

...please enjoy the most devastating parody of both Joan Baez and radical chic ever committed to magnetic tape, "Pull the Tregros." Performed by Diana Reed and written and produced by Spinal Tap's Christopher Guest and the late great Tony Hendra.

So many grievous wrongs/For me to right with tedious songs...

I should add two things. First of all, I adore Joan Baez as a person -- she's smart, sassy, and politically on the side of the angels. Her music, however -- i.e. what they used to call her "achingly pure soprano" -- has (with one exception I'll post about next week) always bored me to tears.

Secondly, you probably couldn't get away with this parody in today's climate, but that only makes it more devastingly pertinent. IMHO.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

It's Self-Indulgence Week: Part III -- Why Not?

From his 1960 comedy album classic, please enjoy hero of my youth (and a regular on the old Steve Allen show) Dayton Allen (no relation to Steverino) and "Surgeon."

And may I simply say, and for the record, that "Surgery to me is more than just a way to make a good fast buck" is one of my favorite dumb jokes of all time? Thank you.

I should add that, after the variety show, Dayton was a prolific contributor of cartoon voices, including Deputy Dawg and Heckle and Jeckle.

I should also add that he did an absolutely killer Groucho Marx impression, which you can see at the beginiing of this 1963 clip from I've Got a Secret that I've included, because I love you all more than food.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

It's Self-Indulgenece Week: Part II -- Like, Long Hair!!!

From 1935, please enjoy Serge Prokofiev playing a piano version of the Gavotte from his Symphony No.1, or as we hipsters call it, the "Classical" Symphony.

That's from one of my all time favorite historical recordings; the performance of the wonderful concerto on side one is to die for, but the side two gavotte always struck me as a sort of classical equivalent of a pop single, and I probably played it as much as any track on a Beatles album.

I should add that all Angel's reissues of 78s had the same standardized packaging as the above; the album covers felt not like cardboard but like linen, and the booklets that came with them were uniformly fabulous. I can't remember which other ones I had, although one of them was probably Fritz Kreisler doing the Brahms violin concerto.

Monday, April 05, 2021

It's Self-Indulgence (A Few of My Favorite Things) Week: Part I -- Tempus Fugit, Baby!!!

Okay, kids, in case you haven't figured it out from the title here, I'm devoting this week's posts to stuff -- from a variety of genres -- that I just happen to love, and without apology. Hopefully, you'll get a kick out of them as well.

Exhibit A in that regard: From 1967, please enjoy The McCoys and their chilling and musically brilliant ode to the passing of time in this sad vale of tears "Beat the Clock."

The song was co-written by producer Richard Gottehrer, who later did the early Blondie albums, and I think I can safely say it's the best rock song ever about aging. I should add that I literally wore out the mono 45 single version...

...of this back in the day. I mean, it was unlistenable by the time I stopped trying to play the damn thing.

I should also add that when a stereo version of this finally appeared on a McCoy's best-of in the 90s, I felt that I could die happy.

I should also ALSO add that the then teenage Rick Derringer's faux Wes Montgomery guitar solo on it is magnificent.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Okay, These Kids Are Getting Ridiculous Already

Icons of this here blog the Mona Lisa Twins with their latest live clip from The Cavern club. Covering Donovan, of all people.

Seriously -- this level of beautiful and talented should be freaking illegal.