Saturday, August 15, 2015

May I Land My Kinky Machine?-Vaughan & Bowie

Painting by Frank Kelly Freas
Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar playing on David Bowie's Let's Dance album has been obsessing me of late, it's so pitch perfect and manages to maintain his distinctive style (that great vibrato) while at the same time being beautifully restrained, every part honed to the bare essential (you can hum the solos) so as to service only the song in the best possible way. It's a testament to Vaughan's class and talent that he manages to enliven the songs without being overly showy or in anyway out of the context with the slick danceable pop album Nile Rodgers and Bowie envisioned. Sadly money disputes prevented him from doing the Serious Moonlight tour and instead we got Earl Slick mugging and generally acting a boob. But there's a great bootleg of the rehearsals in Dallas when SRV was still part of the band, when I get a chance I will post it.

The guitar playing on Let's Dance has got me listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan again for the first time since I was kid learning guitar, in particular there's a DVD of a 1983 show at the El Macombo that I highly recommend for anyone remotely interested, if you have no patience for the blues idiom or guitar soloing (lots of it, but never wanky, always with soul) you shouldn't bother. It's a high energy sweaty club gig and the very best comes near the end when Vaughan covers Hendrix's "3rd Stone From the Sun" (did Hendrix ever do this one live? If anyone knows please comment) and completely abandons his blues chops (which are in abundance) to revel in some gleeful auto-destruction and psychedelic sonics of pure noise worthy of Townshend and Hendrix. Unfortunately I can't find an upload of the video, just audio, it's even more impressive when you see the way he mercilessly attacks his guitar, but for the time being here's the audio, followed by some well known cuts from the aforementioned Bowie album. 
Bowie, Vaughan & Rodgers

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Everybody Had A Hard Year-1969

I dig Ringo's red plastic mac (which was Maureen's actually) and John's fur coat (which was Yoko's actually)

The Beatles' Rooftop Show from tess g. on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Safe Place Soundtrack or Why You're Always Alone

The Dreamers (2003)
I've been impressed with Michael Pitt's acting since I recently started watching his performance as Jimmy Darmody in Boardwalk Empire (yes I tend to come late to things) the guy can really act and does particularly impressive work with subtle nuanced gestures and facial expressions that reveal internal aspects of his character.  I suppose he's considered a pretty boy (a sometime model, there's actually something a bit odd or off about his face that I like, probably that chin or the scowl, he kinda reminds me of Pete Nice) but he brings a lot more to the screen than just his look, there's a brooding quality and a charisma you don't see in many actors these days- a quiet that creates tension whenever he's on screen, and again reveals the internal workings of the character. It's indicative of an actor whose is comfortable in front of the camera and so with taking his time and fully inhabiting his character and responding to the scene and his fellow actors.

I've been checking out some of his earlier work, including Bertolucci's The Dreamers from 2003 (luckily haven't gone back to Dawson's Creek yet!). And though his acting has certainly improved since 2003 his performance in the film is still pretty solid, and overall it's a great looking enjoyable film-though kinky as you would expect from Bertolucci (Eva Green has nice breasts, I like those big pink nipples!), but more important and interesting to me it's a movie about people obsessed with movies. Charles Trenet's "La Mer" is used prominently in the film which reminded me of its use in Henry Jaglom's A Safe Place. I assembled a soundtrack for A Safe Place in a blog post several years back. And as these soundtracks seem to be the most popular posts at this site, here's a link to that one from the archives for all you cinephiles.

The Dreamers - One of The Insatiables from Scott Thomas Smith on Vimeo.
Eva Green as Venus De Milo
Michael Pitt & Eva Green in the Dreamers

Pitt as Jimmy Darmody in Boardwalk Empire

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Rast RFC, De La Soul & Me-Endless Rain Into A Paper Cup

I had a real shit week and so Friday feeling down I resorted to some old habits and ended up going to the record store up my way. Browsing records always relaxes me, it evokes a meditative state of mind - I lose hours there  and almost always come away with something, usually more than I expected.

But even there I found myself in a sour mood and so was seriously tuning out everyone around me including two guys that came in talking DJing with one of the owners. I figured they were just local hip-hop kids. After about 30 minutes having never even glanced up to see who they were I realized that one of these guys' voices sounded really familiar so I finally look up and damn if it isn't Maseo (Plug 3) from De La Soul.

Now this was seriously unexpected and super exciting as those guys (De La Soul) and the whole native tongue click were like gods to me growing up. By the time I was checking out with my records Maseo had started warming up for a DJ set he was doing at a club that night, spinning old school hip-hop 7 inches, including "the real roxanne" which I happened to be picking up a used 12 inch of as well, great minds think alike and all that. I was the only customer left in the store by this time- the young girls in there earlier obviously had had no idea who he was. The situation kind of blew my mind, this guy is a legend! And so checking out I made a point of catching his eye and letting him know I was a fan, we shook hands as I told him "Maseo! I never thought I'd see you here, made my year!". He seemed pleased, a super genial and genuine nice guy, smiling and laughing he said "us old guys gotta stick together!".

Which brings me in a  roundabout way to Rast RFC, the best hip-hop MC I've heard in the past 10 years. I first heard his record Across West 3rd Street on Dope Folks records in the same record store (Breakaway) where I met Maseo. I don't know how old Rast is but from his references it sounds like he's from my generation and his aesthetic both musically and lyrically has the kind of late 80's/early 90's feel is rare in the 21st century- nice loops (that probably could never get cleared) and a great voice/flow with laid-back sung choruses. I've been playing his record daily since ordering a copy a month ago. The vinyl is only pressed in limited numbers (I guess all pressings are limited these days, but this is a great record), so hop to it and get a copy of Across West 3rd Street today!

After meeting Maseo I pulled out what is probably my favorite De La album 1993's Buhloone Mindstate, if you don't have a copy it's also highly recommended. An amazing record that also contains one my favorite rhymes/lines ever Pos's "fuck being hard Posdnuos is complicated!"(see the second to last video below).  My friend Jeff wrote one of my other favorites back in the day with his dis "your style is flashdance, you be rocking torn sweatpants" that one still makes me laugh every time I think of it.  All this hip-hop even had me free-styling a bit the next day as I listened to the Beatles "Flying" in the car- "proto-hip-hop from the kings of EMI, that's a Mickey Dolenz line, yo check it you'll be flying, 24 bit, Brian Wilson having fits, every track could be a hit with those randy scouse gits". Record companies come and get me!  heh.

Maseo rhymes a bit on the track below

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Subway To Your Suburb- The Modern Lovers 1972

A cat named Warren Loft, has edited some nifty videos for the first Modern Lovers album which I've been enjoying and have compiled below. If by chance you don't have this album, get it posthaste, it's good for you! And unlike most things in this life, it won't ever let you down. I think "Hospital" is still the record's most transcendent moment, it gets me every time. To sweeten the pot here's a rough sounding unreleased live set from the Modern Lovers circa 71/72 which includes a live version of the beautiful unreleased  "Song of Remembrance For Old Girlfriends". The guitar solo on that one is just so heartbreaking, and how often do guitar solos achieve that?
                                                            Click to Download Live Lovers