Monday, December 17, 2012

1974-Someone Fetch A Priest!

Michael O'Brien-The original Twickenham streaker-1974
The idea that 1974 was the absolute nadir of pop/rock music before the rejuvenation caused by the birth of punk and new wave in 1975/1976, like so much received wisdom, doesn't really hold up under scrutiny. No denying that there was a need for some new energy and new bands by the mid 1970's, and punk provided that in spades, and great stuff it was, even more so when it splintered into lots of little genres, forever freeing us of the burden of mass counterculture. But the point of this mix is to testify to the fact that there was plenty of great music released in 1974, records such as Here Come The Warm Jets, Radio City, Small Talk, New York Dolls in Too Much Too Soon, On The Beach, Fear, Diamond Dogs, Natty Dread, Get Up With It, Country Life, and The Heart of Saturday Night, and that's without resorting to the obscure, just scratching the surface. There's was more to '74 than streaking, but not much more!

1974 Mix

1. If You Can't Rock Me- The Rolling Stones
2. Mod Lang- Big Star
3. Teenage Rampage- Sweet
4. Teenage Lament '74- Alice Cooper
5. Living in the 70's- Skyhooks
6. Chatterbox-New York Dolls
7. Diamond Dogs- David Bowie
8. Baby's On Fire-Brian Eno
9. Kill Your Sons- Lou Reed
10. Fear Is A Man's Best Friend- John Cale
11. Revolution Blues- Neil Young
12. Junior's Farm- Paul McCartney & Wings
13. What You Got- John Lennon
14. Loose Booty- Sly & the Family Stone
15. Bend Down Low- Bob Marley & The Wailers
16. Hands on You- The Raspberries
17. If It Takes All Night- Roxy Music
18. Teenage Dream- T. Rex
19. The Heart of Saturday Night- Tom Waits
20. September Gurls- Big Star
21. Here Come The Warm Jets- Brian Eno

Robert Opel streaks by David Niven at the 46th Academy Awards, 1974

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If I Were A Bell!

Marlon and Jean Simmons looking beautiful-1955
"If I Were A Bell" has been a favorite song of mine ever since I first saw Guys and Dolls performed in Houston as a child. Songwriter Frank Loesser crafted a beautiful melody and wed it to a lyric that captures the overwhelming feelings of new love so vividly that even a kid can pick up on how it feels. Its been covered by many, perhaps best by Miles Davis on his 1958 album Relaxin' With The Miles Davis Quintet. Below you'll find the version from the 1955 film of Guys and Dolls with Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons, for those who haven't seen the movie, she's supposed to be drunk, hence the performance. I wish I could find Dinah Washington's version on youtube, but you'll have to make do with Jean Simmons, Miles Davis, Blossom Dearie, Amel Larrieux, and Doris Day. All told not too shabby! 

Smokin' and Relaxin' with Frank Loesser, he's got the phone off the hook.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Long Goodbye

"A moral and decent man cast adrift in a selfish, self-obsessed society where lives can be thrown away without a backward glance ... and any notions of friendship and loyalty are meaningless."

The Long Goodbye Mix

1. Funny How Love Can Be- The Ivy League
2. Love is Lies-The Buzzcocks

3. I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight- Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart
4. Needles & Pins- The Ramones
5. Last Night I Cried- The Beach-niks
6. The Long Goodbye- Jack Sheldon
7. Tina The Go Go Queen- Tav Falco & the Panther Burns
8. I Feel Good, I Feel Bad- Lewis & Clarke Expedition
9. Achin'- The Plugz
10. For Your Love- The Yardbirds
11. Thank You For Sending Me An Angel- The Talking Heads
12. Between the Lines- Flamin' Groovies
13. Free Again- Alex Chilton
14. Qualities of Mercy- Penelope Houston
15. Laughing- R.E.M.
16. Glad and Sorry- The Faces
17. Make Me Sad- Vic Godard and the Subway Sect
18. Ruby Tuesday (instrumental)- The Rolling Stones
19. Where Did the Spring Go?- The Kinks
20. Sixteen Tons- Tennessee Ernie Ford
21. Spanish Caravan- The Doors
22. Andalucia- John Cale
23. The Long Goodbye (trumpet version)- John Williams
24. Rhymes of Goodbye- Scott Walker
25. I'm Going In A Field- Ivor Cutler

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Four Kings Of EMI In Far Away Places

Magical Mystery 
Mother Nature's Son
In 1968 two prominent jazz musicians, Ramsey Lewis and Bud Shank (with Chet Baker in tow), both released albums centered around instrumental interpretations of Beatles' tunes. I don't have the exact release date for the Bud Shank album Magical Mystery, the first side of which is dedicated to songs from the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour (natch)- the second side features prominent hits of the time such as "Never My Love" and "Windy"- but it's safe to say it was released before Mother Nature's Son, as Ramsey's album came out in December of 1968- amazingly only a month or less after the Beatles' White Album, on which it was based. 

Both records are pleasant and slightly psychedelic joining counter culture and lounge culture at a strangely comfortable halfway point. Nice album covers as well! Ramsey's giving the bunny rabbits and birds some love with his piano parked in some foliage, and Bud's caught up in a kaleidoscope of colors whilst deep in meditation with his sax. No big surprise that Ramsey's take is a bit funkier (though at times a little too heavy on the string arrangements) and Bud's a bit more West Coast Cool meets psychedelia. Nothing gets too out there, not enough to upset a party, though Bud's cover of "Blue Jay Way" probably comes the closest. Truth is both of these records could have been playing unobtrusively in the background at a thirty something party your parents attended in the late 60's. Which puts me in mind of the time I discovered Herbie Mann's great Memphis Underground record (featuring mind bending noise solos courtesy of Sonny Sharrock against a solid memphis backing) in my Dad's collection and him explaining to me that he bought it after hearing it at a party. Get a little taste of that record below, Sonny's solo starts around 5:36.

The title of this post references one of the best episodes of last season's Madmen, Far Away Places, in which, amongst other things, Roger Sterling takes LSD for the first time. This is handled in a fine realistic manner emphasizing the sense of dislocation and auditory hallucinations instead of the stereotypical swirling colors and patterns. I can imagine either of these records approximating the sounds inside the silver fox's head as he is slowly cast adrift, feeling the moorings of his madison avenue reality slipping away. As to the four kings of EMI reference all you Monkees fans and randy scouse gits ought to know!
Roger Sterling in Far Away Places

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Monkees Tour & Nesmith in Glasgow

The three remaining Monkees are doing a fall tour of the U.S..  I hope that they make their way to Texas next year, would love to see them play with Nesmith. Speaking of which here are two clips of Mike, currently on a solo tour in the UK, in Glasgow. And then for a bit of nostalgia their audition clips for the show.

Monday, October 22, 2012

93 KHJ Boss Radio In Los Angeles- September 7, 1966

Click for BOSS RADIO

Monkee Trip Time! The link above contains roughly 80 minutes of LA's 93 KHJ Boss Radio featuring DJ's Frank Terry and Gary Mack recorded on September 7, 1966. Witness the greatness of AM radio in the mid-1960's! The Monkee trip, featured prominently in this aircheck, was a promotional contest the station sponsored for the debut of the Monkees TV show. Winners of the contest rode a train from LA to Del Mar (renamed Clarksville for the event) where the Monkees boarded and rode the train back to LA with the kids, performing in one of the cars along the way. The trip took place on September 11, 1966 one day prior to the debut of the Monkees TV show on September 12. Below you'll find some silent footage of the trip, the Boss Top Thirty for September 7, 1966, and a pic of four of the Boss Jocks on the train. For more information on KHJ Boss Radio visit -  
Boss Jocks-Gary Mack, Johnny Williams, Johnny Mitchell and Frank Terry aboard the train

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Computer Love-1975-81

Kraftwerk, so fresh and so clean, are one of the things that make me glad to be alive.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

First Cuts & Different Drums

The Stone Poneys
I saw Martin McDonagh's new film Seven Psychopaths over the weekend. It's a fun film not in the least because it gives two great actors, Sam Rockwell and Chris Walken, a hell of a lot of room to do their thing, so much so that in their scenes together they completely eclipse Colin Farrell, his ever looming eyebrows and hair notwithstanding. I'm not a fan of Woody Harrelson, something about the guy bugs me, but he's passable here as well- yet it's easy to see how Micky Rourke, who was the director's first choice for Harrelson's character, could have brought more presence and authentic nuttiness to the portrayal of dog loving Charlie. Oh well. It's also a treat to see Tom Waits, Harry Dean Stanton and the under used Kevin Corrigan make appearances in smaller roles in the film. And Linda Bright Clay, a striking older actress with whom I was not familiar, is very impressive in her performance as the wife of Walken's character, more than holding her own with the other more well known actors with whom she's paired.  

So it's a funny and fun film, go see it!  The cherry on top, and the reason for this post ("I'm trying to come to the point, I won't give up my obsessions" A.G.) was the prominent use in the film of two of my favorite songs in their very best versions- P.P. Arnold's rendition of Cat Steven's "The First Cut Is The Deepest" and the Stone Poneys' version of Michael Nesmith's "Different Drum". I can't figure how or really if the songs actually tie in to anything that happens in the movie, but it was still a thrill to hear them featured so prominently in a new film. Makes you feel that there are others out there who share your obsessions and taste.

The Great P.P. Arnold
So here's each of the aforementioned songs followed by the composer's version.  Even Cat Stevens greatly preferred P.P.'s version of "First Cut Is The Deepest".  But Nesmith's version of "Different Drum" is mighty fine and depending on the day and how I feel rival's The Stone Poneys.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Look At That Caveman Go!

Click for Look At That Caveman Go!
1. Alley-Oop- The Hollywood Argyles- The greatest vocal in pop/rock history? Certainly it's up right near the tippy top, but who is it singing?  I always heard Gary Paxton, but apparently there's some debate. Here's Paxton's official statement on the matter, you know its serious when cats start issuing signed statements.

2. I'm Shakin'-Little Willie John- "When you take me in your arms to talk romance, my heart starts doing the St. Vitus Dance." Good stuff that.  Check out the little fills the drummer does at the end of each couplet to mimic both the rhythm and meaning of the lyrics.  Solid!

3. Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy's Ovaltine?- Harry the Hipster Gibson- "She stays up nights making all the rounds, they say she lost about 69 pounds, now Mr. Murphy claims she's getting awful thin, and all she says is give me some skin, mop!"

4. I'm Ready- Fats Domino- Favorite lyric in this one is "don't send me no letter, cause I can't read". But hey he can fuck all night, so who needs letters or books for that matter.

5. New Amphetamine Shriek- The Fugs- So yeah there's a bit of a theme developing here, after all something's got to get that caveman going. "I love to draw pictures in layers and layers, and say the words backwards when I say my prayers". 

6. The Boo Boo Song- King Coleman- Okay now we're moving into some unassailable territory, so don't dare try to front on this one like your too fucking cool for school, just stick it in your car stereo, turn it up, roll down the windows and drive, and watch people's heads turn.  

7. Rocket 88- Jackie Brenston- Good ol' Ike Turner wrote this one, and it's often credited as the first rock n' roll song. Don't really matter what you call it though, not when it moves like this- "step in my rocket and don't be late, baby we're pulling out about half past eight, going round the corner and get a fifth, everybody in my car's gonna take a little nip".

8. Transfusion- Nervous Norvus- Pour the crimson in me Jimson! A real gone paleface for sure.

9. Cycle Annie- The Beachnuts- This fella sounds familiar.

10. Surfin' Bird- The Trashmen- True heart and soul of rock n' roll (not to get all Huey Lewis on ya) is contained in the Beats' idea of goofin', the holy fool trip, which is definitely what you got going on in this here cut.  Glorious nonsense, oh and sex is big part of it too, not this song but der rock n' roll.  Guess that's why the British haven't been able to kill it off, though they've been trying for decades.

11. If You're A Viper- Jim Kweskin Jug Band- bust your conk on peppermint candy!

12. Little Demon- Screamin' Jay Hawkins- Maybe should have saved this one for a halloween mix, oh well there's more where this came from.

13. Ahab the Arab- Ray Stevens- This Fatima girl sounds hip, I want an introduction- "there she was friends and neighbors, laying there in all her radiant beauty, eating on a raisin, grape, apricot, pomegranate, bowl of chitterlings, two bananas, three Hershey bars, sipping on an ice cold RC Co-Cola, listenin' to her transistor, watchin' the Grand Ole Opry on the tube, readin' a Mad Magazine while she sung, 'Does your chewing gum lose its flavor?'"

14. Niki Hoeky- P.J. Proby- Ya dig me on the scooby doo!

15. Boobs A Lot- The Holy Modal Rounders- I've always been more of an ass man myself, but its not an either/or proposition, and lately its not a proposition at all, heh. You don't have to pick a side, reminds me of the Eastbound and Down bit below. Earlier version of the tune back when Weber and Stampfel were playing with the Fugs follows.

16. Bread and Butter- The Newbeats- This used to blow my mind back when I'd hear it on oldies radio, and even more so when I found out it was sung by these three ofays. Mmm, toast and jam.

17. My Baby Left Me- Elvis Presley- Hillbilly Bop.

18. Bop Pills- Macy Skipper- They're good for what ails you!

19. Mule Skinner Blues- The Fendermen- This is what happens when you take too many of those bop pills. "Where's that water boy man?"

20. Waiting in School- Ricky Nelson- Pure poetry, both the vocal delivered so effortlessly and Burton's guitar. Late breaking correction apparently it's Joe Maphis playing the lead here, with James Burton on rhythm.

21. Oo-Ma-Liddi- J.J. Jackson and the Jackals- Speaking the secret language!

22. The Girl Can't Help It- Little Richard- "If she smiling beef steak become well done".

23. I Like Girls- Nervous Norvus- Interesting pragmatic approach from Norvus.

24. Happiness is Havin'- Beaver and the Trappers- So this is Jerry Mathers' mid-60's garage band, post sitcome fame. That's right it's the Beaver singing and I believe he wrote the tune as well. Hell its Southern California in the mid-60's why not form a garage band.  Lyrically it sounds like the Beave is still figuring things out and might be trying a bit too hard to convince us that being left alone equals happiness. Ward might have needed to have a talk with the boy based on some of the other lyrical assertions. 


The Beaver invents Darby Crash
25. Have Love, Will Travel- The Sharps- Written and produced by Lee Hazlewood and Lester Sill with Duane Eddy on guitar.

26. Latin Skate- The Cheap Skates- Couldn't find the Cheap Skates version on youtube, so the Roberto Jordan cover is below instead, making it more Latin by a half.

27. Satisfaction- Manfred Mann- Pretty hot!

28. Eleanor Rigby- Doodles Weaver- Probably my favorite version of this tune, sadly can't find it on youtube, download the mix though as you really need to hear this.  

29. They're Coming to Take Me Away- Napoleon XIV- A suitable ending!

Dedicated to Alfred and Sylvester too!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Curves Can Kill- The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

Last night I went to a screening of the remastered version of the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour , due out on DVD and Blu-Ray next week. The film is definitely easier on the eyes now, though still somewhat of a mess, at least its not a scratchy, grainy, washed out mess. The musical sequences are of course the main highlight, and one of the best is provided by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. In honor of their fine contribution to the cause lets watch some of their appearances on Do Not Adjust Your Set, shall we? Come on you've got nothing to lose except your mind, and what good has it ever done you?!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weak In The Knees Till You Can Hardly Speak-ATCQ

Bonita Applebum
Michael Rapaport's documentary on A Tribe Called Quest, Beats, Rhymes & Life, has had me revisiting Midnight Marauders along with Tribe's first two records. All three still sound just as fresh today as they did upon release. Native Tongues and especially Tribe were my favorite hip-hop group/collective bar none. And Hip-Hop was definitely THE soundtrack of my late teens and early 20's. I was lucky enough to live through the genre's late 80's to mid 90's peak, what is now aptly referred to as its Golden Age. It was an exciting time, probably the first and last time in which I found myself completely engaged and immersed in current music to the exclusion of everything else. I remember waiting with incredible excitement for new releases and rushing to the store to buy them, often having to settle for a cassette because cd's were too expensive and vinyl releases weren't always stocked. There was a span of 6 or 7 years where it just seemed like with every new release somebody was upping the ante, taking things a little further, developing the art. I felt both a part of the scene, as I followed it so closely and was on top of the latest east coast sounds, and not a part of it, due to my background ie being white. All of which suited me fine, almost made it more fun in a way, as I've never been too big on being part of groups.
On a recent drive back to Austin I found myself playing the track "Electric Relaxation" from Midnight Marauders over and over again, just couldn't get past it. I must have listened to it at least 10 times in a row. I realized as I listened, stuck in a loop that I didn't want to leave, that this is one of my favorite songs ever. It manages to be both sweet and horny in equal measures, a trick that's not easy to pull off, especially in rap. And Tribe managed this not once but twice, the first instance being "Bonita Applebum"off their debut. In this age where so much pop culture has overly sexualized content that's strangely grim, mechanical, and joyless, its really nice to hear music that revels in such a playful, shamelessly joyful and humorous approach to sex. In a word it's healthy! 
"Electric Relaxation" has so many great lines that I could print the entire lyric as a favorite, but if I have to choose the definite stand outs would be Q-Tip's opening line "honey check it out you got me mesmerized, with your black hair and your fat ass thighs", as well as "I'll have you weak in the knees that you can hardly speak, and we can do like Uncle L. and swing an ep. in my jeep, keep it on the down, yo we keep it discrete, see I'm not the type of kid to have my biz in the streets" and of course the immortal "now I want to pound the poontang until it stinks".  But Phife almost steals the show with the following "if my mom don't approve then I'll just elope, let me save the little man from inside the boat, let me hit it from the back girl, I won't catch a hernia, bust off on your couch now you got Seaman's furniture". As a Texan the full meaning of the joke in the last line was lost on me all these years until it was explained in the documentary that Seaman's furniture was a popular furniture store in New York. Props to Phife as well for name checking 1990's BET host Madelyne Woods (got the goods).

So without further ado here's the videos for "Electric Relaxation" (unfortunately with the lyrics edited) and "Bonita Applebum" followed by the equally great Hootie mix of Bonita and the unedited "Electric Relaxation".  Enjoy! And if anyone knows the name and number of the girl from the Bonita Applebum video, hit me up!