Sunday, February 23, 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014
I came across this list of Jonathan Richman's favorite records from the 1960's and thought it was worth reposting. This may have first appeared in Fusion magazine, but I'm not certain, I know that Jonathan did a bit of writing for Fusion in the early 70's, so that's my guess. There aren't any real big surprises on the list, but it's nice to see his love of mid-60's Stones, especially the great American hodgepodge record December's Children, which is so much better than it has any right to be considering how thrown together it is. Also very cool that he rates the Stones and the Kinks mid-60's live albums, both of which are generally not held in high esteem but which I personally love because they're so damn raw and energetic, especially Got Live If You Want It. The fact that they are doctored with extra applause just adds to the fun and manic energy.
I had never considered the Lovin' Spoonful an influence on Jonathan, but upon reflection this makes perfect sense. I guess the biggest surprise is the Who's "I'm Free" making the list, as its hard to see JoJo digging the double album rock opera that is Tommy- but there's no denying that "I'm Free" is a great song and easily the best track from Tommy, especially that beautiful middle eight; "I told you what it takes to reach the highest high, you laughed and said nothing's that simple, but you've been told many times before messiahs pointed to the door, but no one had the guts to leave the temple".
There are four songs on the list that I am not familiar with, so I've posted those four below, followed by the Who's "I'm Free" since I singled it out as the most surprising choice on the list, and commented on its beauty. And finally since lists are undeniably self indulgent but FUN (which is really what this here blog is all about) I decided to end with a list of my current fave raves.
Wm's February Fave Raves: In no particular order
1. Broadcast & The Focus Group- Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age
2. Francoise Hardy- Midnight Blues
3. The Blues Project- Projections
4. Flamin' Groovies- Supersnazz & Slow Death
5. Gilberto Gil- 1971
6. Curtis Mayfield- Sweet Exorcist
7. The Buffalo Springfield Again
8. Paul Revere and the Raiders- Revolution
9. The Electric Prunes- Underground
10. Ennio Morricone- The Legendary Italian Westerns
11. Echo and the Bunnymen- Ocean Rain & Porcupine
12. All of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's records
13. Shaun Cassidy- First album and Born Late (produced by Michael Lloyd of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band) *disclaimer- these records sound nothing like WCPAEB but it's an interesting connection.
1. Flirting- 1991
2. Smashing Time- 1967
3. Swiss Family Robinson (Disney)
4. Melody-1971- I looked a bit like Mark Lester, the kid in Melody when I was a little, even had the sandy blonde hair.
5. Hammett- Wim Wenders 1982
6. Darby O' Gill and the Little People- I've been on a bit of a live action Disney kick and I also enjoy looking at Janet Munro!
7. The Nostradamus Kid -I've been on a Noah Taylor kick as well. Flirting is a much better film, but this one is good too, and with better editing could have been great. There is nothing for this film on youtube.
8. Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries Seasons 1 & 2- The theme music and visuals of the second season opening is what sold me on the show. Not to mention their awesome van and Shaun's sheep lined leather jacket. What's not to like?
9. The Doors- R-Evolution- Live vocals to a pre-recorded backing track and what great vocals they are, really the first to bring that crooner style to rock. And Morrison had more presence just standing still with his eyes closed than any gyrating fool you can name. The Smothers Brothers appearance on the DVD only has "Touch Me" unlike the second video below which also includes "Wild Child". Why? I dunno.
10. The Girl Who Knew Too Much
1. The Cry of the Owl- Patricia Highsmith
2. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch- Philip K. Dick
3. Skywalking- The Life and Films of George Lucas- Dale Pollock
4. Sinister Barrier- Eric Frank Russell
5. Detroit Rock City- Steve Miller
6. Tune In- Mark Lewisohn
7. Poems From the Book of Hours- Rainer Maria Rilke
8. Shindig (magazine)
9. Ugly Things (magazine)
My February Girls:
1. Thandie Newton especially in Flirting- The trailer below is awful and gives no indication of how classy and heartfelt the film is, but it's how they tried to market any teen film at the time (making it look like Porkys), and I guess still do. At least they had the good sense to keep the Troggs' "With A Girl Like You" in there, which is a transcendent music cue in the film. This film was a big influence on Wes Anderson.
|Noah Taylor and Thandie Newton in 1991's Flirting|
|A still from Flirting|
|Groovy First Edition Hardback|
|Three pics of the lovely Janet Munro|
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
|McCartney digs the liner notes of AFTER-MATH|
Growing up as a comic book kid I slid into music at the age of 10 via the Beatles and the whole British Invasion and the larger than life images and output of these bands filled the same sort of mythic fantasy landscape that super heroes had at an earlier age. I still love listening to these records in batches based on the year of release, it's such a thrill to hear the obvious ramifications of the cross pollination of what was still a relatively small group of peers that made up the music scene- with so many influences flying back and forth between the leading lights, especially in England, a small country-for comparison the state of Texas is bigger. It's a gas to read and think about the interactions, rivalries and socializing of these bands, like one of those awesome Marvel Comic match ups.
All of which leads me to the reason for this post, which is a review I came across from a 1966 Disc and Music Echo of Revolver by Ray Davies. It's an even handed review, far from fawning but with an obvious respect for the songwriting and performing talent of the band. I was pleased to see that Ray's favorite track on the album was John's "I'm Only Sleeping", as it's mine too. I've included it after the review. I remember riding around on my bike as a little kid singing that one.
It's probably worthwhile to point out that Ray Davies did not hang out on the scene or socialize like The Beatles, the Stones and the Who did, and that in Davies' autobiography he mentions being snubbed by Lennon at a show early in the Kink's career. But there's an obvious though perhaps begrudging respect as he also in the same book proudly relates the story of Lennon being seen in a club making the DJ play the Kinks 1968 single "Wonderboy" over and over again. It's easy to see how the song's "life is only what you conjure" theme would appeal to John.
As another important POP/psych moment of the year 1966 I've included the British TV version of Alice in Wonderland which featured a soundtrack by Ravi Shankar and starred a ton of amazing Brits; Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, Leo McKern, Michael Redgrave, Alan Bennett and many more. I've seen the DVD popping up a lot at a great price ( I think I paid six dollar for it) and its well worth picking up- definitely my favorite version of Alice and the DVD includes some enjoyable extras.
I've also included the 1966 appearance of John Lennon on Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's show Not Only.. But Also. The beginning of the clip has Cook and Moore's psychedelic parody the L.S. Bumble Bee, which segues into the lavatory bit with John, not sure why this wasn't included on the The Best of What's Left of Not Only But Also DVD. I've also added more fab pics, and finally The Stones affectionately goofing on some Beatles songs from the film Charlie Is My Darling which is yet another most own film.
|Ray and a tree in 1966|
Here's the album, track by track, with Ray's inter-round summaries:
Side One: "Taxman" (by George)--lead voice, George: "It sounds like a cross between the Who and Batman. It's a bit limited, but the Beatles get over this by the sexy double-tracking. It's surprising how sexy double-tracking makes a voice sound."
"Eleanor Rigby" (by John and Paul)--lead Paul: "I bought a Haydn LP the other day and this sounds just like it. It's all sort of quartet stuff and it sounds like they're out to please music teachers in primary schools. I can imagine John saying: 'I'm going to write this for my old schoolmistress'. Still it's very commercial."
"I'm Only Sleeping" (by John and Paul)--lead John: "It's a most beautiful song, much prettier than 'Eleanor Rigby'. A jolly old thing, really, and definitely the best track on the album.
"Love You Too" (by George)--lead George: "George wrote this--he must have quite a big influence on the group now. This sort of song I was doing two years ago--now I'm doing what the Beatles were doing two years ago. It's not a bad song--it's well performed which is always true of a Beatles track."
"Here There and Everywhere" (by John and Paul)--lead Paul: "This proves that the Beatles have got good memories, because there are a lot of busy chords in it. It's nice--like one instrument with the voice and guitar merging. Third best track on the album."
"Yellow Submarine" (by John and Paul)--lead Ringo: "This is a load of rubbish, really. I take the mickey out of myself on the piano and play stuff like this. I think they know it's not that good."
"She Said She Said" (by John and Paul)--lead John: "This song is in to restore confidence in the old Beatles sound. That's all."
"Good Day Sunshine" (by John and Paul)--lead Paul: "This'll be a giant. It doesn't force itself on you, but it stands out like 'I'm Only Sleeping'. This is back to the real old Beatles. I just don't think the fans like the newer electronic stuff. The Beatles are supposed to be like the boy next door only better."
"And Your Bird Can Sing" (by John and Paul)--lead John: "Don't like this. The song's too predictable. It's not a Beatles song at all."
"For No One" (by John and Paul)--lead Paul: "This will get covered, but it won't be a hit. It's really better than 'Eleanor Rigby' and the French horn is a nice effect."
"Dr. Robert" (by John and Paul)--lead John: "It's good--there's a 12-bar beat and bits in it that are clever. Not my sort of thing, though."
"I Want To Tell You" (by George)--lead George: "This helps the LP through. It's not up to the Beatles standard."
"Got To Get You Into My Life" (by John and Paul)--lead Paul: "Jazz backing--and it just goes to prove that Britain's jazz musicians can't swing. Paul's singing better jazz than the musicians are playing which makes nonsense of people saying jazz and pop are very different. Paul sounds like Little Richard. Really, it's the most vintage Beatles track on the LP."
"Tomorrow Never Knows" (by John and Paul)--lead John: "Listen to all those crazy sounds! It'll be popular in discotheques. I can imagine they had George Martin tied to a totem pole when they did this!"
So, after listening to each track three or four times, the Ray Davies verdict: "This is the first Beatles LP I've really listened to in it's entirety but I must say there are better songs on 'Rubber Soul'. Still, 'I'm Only Sleeping' is a standout, 'Good Day Sunshine is second best and I also like 'Here, There and Everywhere.' But I don't want to be harsh about the others. The balance and recording technique are as good as ever."
Disc and Music Echo Magazine August, 1966
Lennon's favorite by the Kinks "Wonderboy"
|Lennon looking too hip, you're what's happening baby!|
|The Kolourful Kinks circa 1966|
|Having a larf!|
Friday, February 14, 2014
Thursday, February 13, 2014
The Motor City Five, looking flash and kicking out some blue screen jams for the Beat Club circa 1972! I like Fred "Sonic" Smith's outfit the best here, though Tyner (the sci-fi beatnik) was my favorite.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
|Cover Stars-Arthur Lee and Love|
I empathize with the first part of the above quote, but not with the second, the trick is not to love it back, my best loved moments have been joyous and that is what I want to dwell on- and yet still I find it easier to make mixes based around loss and sadness than anything else, maybe it's cathartic, let's hope so huh.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD MIX
1. Three Steps To Heaven- Eddie Cochran- This is an early version, different key, and a slightly different lyric structure from the single, can't decide which I like best so I put this and the single version both on here as bookends to the mix. They both sound like heaven to me! Both Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly would have been even more important and influential than they already are if death hadn't taken them so early. Both were great writers, singers, producers and guitar players.
2. Wedding Bell Blues- Laura Nyro- In a perfect world Laura Nyro would have been THE big sensation at the Monterey Pop Festival, see second video below. The way she says "Bill" as the song goes on becomes more like beale, which reminds me of how my grandmother would say my name. I think its a Southern thing, her background singers seem to emphasize it that way and they're probably from the South, obviously Nyro was a New Yorker.
All of my family and friends who have known me since I was a kid call me Bill. And although I prefer my actual given name, William, it's nice to hear it cause there's a warmth there as it means, usually, that someone has known me forever. On the flip side if they haven't known me forever they're taking some damn liberties with my name! Heh. Two syllables is just too much for some folks.
3. Get To You- The Byrds-Probably the most beautiful song the Byrds ever wrote, featured on what is arguably their best album. Only recently, after listening to this song for over 20 years, did I realize that the backing vocals were singing "that's a little better".
4. Fokus- Liam Hayes- No uploads found for this one, but trust me everything this guy does is great, he's on my very short list of current musicians I dig. Just download the mix and see for yourself. This song is from a terrible film that Roman Coppola made, but the soundtrack to it is aces, all composed by Liam Hayes, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III - again its a truly awful film, avoid it like the plague, but get the soundtrack as it's a great introduction to the music of Liam Hayes. There's a decent vinyl pressing too.
5. November Night- Peter Fonda- Gram Parsons wrote this song, and its a good-un. Peter Fonda is another Pisces (like Arthur Lee) and a hep cat, I dig his style, especially in the film The Trip, button up shirt and v-neck sweaters with corduroys and desert boots. Sharp.
6. Some of Shelly's Blues- Michael Nesmith- In Nesmith's songs its always either him or his woman leaving, guess we know what his love life was like. Actually a friend of mine's Mom dated Nez in high school, and apparently he held a torch for her even years later, so I used to always encourage him to get his Mom (a divorcee) to get remarried to Nez, that way his step dad would be my favorite Monkee. It was an elaborate scheme that I could not get him or his Mom on board with, heh.
7. Five String Serenade- Mazzy Star- A latter day composition by Arthur Lee, I think he wrote it in the 1980's, and it was released early 1990's. One of the more perceptive reviews that my band, The Soft Set, received for our first (self released) cd was a local Austin site that mentioned Mazzy Star as a touchstone-not that we actually sounded much like them, but there were some similarities in feel, especially on that first cd in terms of the atmospherics, consistent mood and the melancholy underlying the songs. Anyway it made more sense than comparing us to Belle & Sebastian.
8. Gather 'Round- Love- The Love records after Forever Changes, all have their moments, and this is surely one of them- its from 1969's Out Here on Blue Thumb Records. All I could find on youtube was the live version below, its pretty nice, I think from that out of print live c.d., wish I had it myself. The song is another story about an animal called man whose mind is all filled up with bullshit.
9. Blue Spanish Sky- Chris Isaak- Isaak sounds like a cross between Roy Orbinson and Ricky Nelson, and that's a winning combination jack. Looks like he's got a thing for Latinas. Can't say I blame him, I'm partial to them myself, if you're raised in Texas like me or Southern California like Isaak, its hard not to, they're all around being beautiful. Definitely the best thing about Texas is the Hispanic culture here, otherwise this damn place would be all but unlivable.
A friend of mine from Chile, said I should leave them alone, "they're all crazy" he said, but I've heard guys say that about all kinds of different women, at least Latinas get crazy about stuff I can understand, not abstract nonsense. Anyway don't get me wrong, I love ALL women….problem is they don't all love me back, sad innit.
"I only wish I could make you cry, like I do". The more I listen to this one, the more I like it.
10. For No One- The Beatles- Obscure 1960's band, well worth checking out, if you can find their records. This is one of McCartney's crowning achievements especially the lyrics, which are not usually his strong suit- a perfect song, heartbreaking without being cloying, told with a sharp eye for detail worthy of a short story. "For No One" is beautiful and brief, like the relationship detailed therein. Lennon, not one quick to offer praise, even to his songwriting partner, said of the song "One of my favourites of Paul's—a nice piece of work" - the work of course being song craft. "You find that all her words of kindness linger on when she no longer needs you".
11. Do You Know How It Feels To Be Lonesome?- International Submarine Band- Indeed I do! Christ I could give lessons in it! Or was the question rhetorical? "Did you ever try to smile at some people, and all they ever seem to do is stare".
12. Lonesome Boy- Gene Vincent- Damn, Gene Vincent was divine, listen to that quivering voice! The art of singing is getting your voice to convey as directly as possible the feeling behind the lyric, telegraph it right to their soul, so they feel what the song is about. This here is a good example of that.
13. Tristeza- Luiz Bonfa- Ah sadness. Why are Brazilians so talented?
14. Listen to the Band- The Monkees- First video has the recorded version dubbed over some of the performance from the television special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee. Second version is the actual performance from the special where in a process kind of the opposite of the Chambers Brothers, their country psychedelia gets soulified. It's a pretty awesome freak out and either way this should have been a hit.
15. Doggone (edit)- Love- Rhino had the good sense to edit out the long drum solo on this great song, so we all win! Full version below so you can judge for yourself. I recently got a vinyl copy of this, and as drum solos go I gotta say this one IS actually pretty good- meaning I can listen to it and dig parts of it- their drummer at the time was a monster and funky as hell, still in all for a mix you don't want 10 minute solos of ANY instrument, at least not in my mixes.
16. Two Winters Long- Irma Thomas- I did a separate post end of last year that featured this song by the great Irma Thomas along with a Peanuts cartoon- simply beautiful.
17. Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell- ZZ Top- All of ZZ Top's records from the 1970's are worthwhile, check them out if you haven't. I love this one, great title for a song. Listen to the restraint in that guitar solo, lesser guitarists, myself included would be tempted to fill up space with a flurry of pentatonic scales, but Gibbons knows exactly what he is going for and leaves lots of space with a solo that captures the melancholy lonely feeling of the song.
Sonically these records sound great on vinyl, original pressings that is, avoid modern pressings if possible, that's a good general rule of thumb for all older bands. I have fond memories of collecting all of these records back when I could still drink (without migraines) -oh man, they go really well with tequila, beer and Tex-Mex, I mean just check out the inside gatefold for their 1973 album Tres Hombres (below).
|Inside gatefold for Tres Hombres|
18. Hazy Shade of Winter (single mix)- Simon and Garfunkel- I really love these guys music, though I've made disparaging remarks about Paul Simon in the past, it's all in good fun, actually no, he does annoy me , there's a story about him rudely walking away from Laura Nyro when she tried to introduce herself to him at the Monterey Pop Festival, and that's just one example off the top of my head. Alright the guy is a little prick, maybe its being short that makes him like that, but the music he made with the Garfunkel is nice.
19. Goodbye- Mary Hopkin- McCartney can probably write catchy tunes in his sleep, in fact I think he later released many songs composed in just this fashion! Paul seems like a bit of a pain in the ass, check him out in the video gesturing and making a lot of movements to call attention to himself while Mary does her best to ignore him, oh well a lot can be forgiven when someone is talented.
20. The Goose Is Out- Liam Hayes- Another great one from Liam off the Bright Penny record which is also recommended, and it is included on the soundtrack I mentioned earlier as well- really all of his records are strong, pick one and buy it. Though I like the soundtrack as a starting point because it draws from a couple of his records and has new stuff as well. Anyway there's an upload for this song, so check it out. "Could have been together if I'd only known how to charm a snake". A little sting in that tale.
21. I'll Pray For You- Love- I hate when you try to console somebody and because they got a hang up with religion or whatever they get all uptight and even rude if you mention praying for them, its like damn I'm trying to be nice, take it for how it's intended. I'm not gonna modify everything I say just cause you got some axe to grind. Some people can't ever drop their bullshit.
22. The Quest- Donovan- 70's Donovan, pretty good, pretty neat.
23. Three Steps To Heaven- Eddie Cochran- Back where we started, yet the song and you aren't quite the same. That's time. Or maybe that's witchcraft. Zap, you're pregnant! That's a Kenneth Anger reference. Ciao kiddos.