Friday, May 25, 2012

French Blues (Why Don't You Smile Now)

Peter Orlovsky & Maurice Girodias in Paris 1961
You've been up all night on French Blues. You stumble home bleary eyed in an early morning fog that both reflects and reinforces the haze in your still buzzing brain. Bone tired and beat you lay down on your bed and close your eyes hoping for darkness but instead abstractions dance beneath your heavy lids, mocking the desire for sleep. Accepting that you won't enter the arms of Morpheus anytime soon you reach over to the nightstand and tune the radio to an all night DJ. As you lay listening, eyes closed, watching the lights dance behind your eyes, the room begins to hum and vibrate rising slowly into the Aether.

1. Hiroshima Mon Amour- Giovanni Fusco- To set the mood, the title music from the 1959 film directed by Alain Resnais.

2. Sins Of A Family- P.F. Sloan- A character from a Ross MacDonald novel condensed into a three minute song.

Ross MacDonald

3. Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?- Bob Dylan- The kind of song that gets Phil Ochs kicked out of cabs.

4. That's Right Baby- Marianne Faithfull- A bit of a Bond feel in the horns arrangement.

5. Waltz For A Pig- Graham Bond Organization- A Who B-Side that's actually the Graham Bond Organization, the title alludes to lovable producer Shel Talmy.

6. Why Don't You Smile Now- The All-Night Workers- A John Cale and Lou Reed song released in 1965 in which you can here the nascent Velvet Underground sound.  Lou claimed to hate songs that asked questions, which I guess explains the lack of a question mark in the song title.

7. She Weaves A Tender Trap- The Chocolate Watchband- The clip below from the 1967 film Riot on the Sunset Strip is a better representation of how The Watchband usually sound, but I quite like a Tender Trap.

8. Down Dismal Ways- Sandie Shaw- The lovely piano part makes this song, nice bongos as well.  The usually barefoot Sandie Shaw appears to be wearing hose in the pic below.

9. See Dawn- Bobby Jameson- This track is from Jameson's second album Color Him In, it doesn't have the immediate appeal of his first record, Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest, but I've found it to be a grower. The record is produced and arranged by Curt Boettcher.  Bobby's appearance in Mondo Hollywood below.

10. Coconut Grove- The Lovin' Spoonful- No video but you can enjoy the tune below.

11. The Girls In Paris- Lee Hazlewood & Suzi Jane Hokum- La, la, la, Lee

12. Strip-Tease- Nico- A Serge Gainsbourg production.

13. School Girl- The Standells- "Her one ambition, was to collect degrees", she sounds familiar.  Not originally on Hot Ones! This track was included on the Sundazed cd as a bonus track.

14.  Girl Don't Tell Me- The Beach Boys- Originally released on the 1965 album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) (I'm a fan of gratuitous exclamation marks and parentheses myself!!). I recall reading somewhere that Brian Wilson forbid this track from being included on the early 90's box set, the implication being that it was connected to something personal that he didn't want to recall. Either way this is one of his best pop songs, written very much under the influence of the Beatles.

15. It's Only Love- The Beatles- It was between this and "Girl" and I went with this because its a little unloved and underrated, not the least of which by the band themselves, Lennon professed to hate it.  Well I like it, so there.  This is the hard panned version with some sloppy double tracking on the vocals from the American stereo version of Rubber Soul.  Incidentally the American version of Rubber Soul slays the British, a rare instance where Capitol's juggling of songs for the American market resulted in something better than the original- emphasizing the acoustic tone of the album it's a folk rock masterpiece!

16. Please Please Me- The Score- Wow these guys take one of my least favorite Beatles songs, stick it through a heavy R&B/Yardbirds filter and transform it into something just short of amazing, scratch that, it makes it to amazing.  Nice job chaps!  

17. La Maison Ou J'ai Grandi- Francoise Hardy- A favorite of Walker Brother, Scott.

18. Leaving It Up To You- Don Grady- This brings to mind a recent scene in Madmen where Pete Campbell asks Harry Crane, after being used and tossed aside by Rory Gilmore, (aka Alexis Bledel, straight out of Houston and an alumnus of my Jesuit high school's sister school St. Agnes) "why do they get to decide what's going to happen?" Hilarious scene, people love to hate on him but Pete is one of the most interesting characters on the show, certainly as, if not more complex than Don, who gets away with murder because he's cool, reserved and handsome (while Pete looks like that Rankin and Bass character from Rudolph) but I'm not buying the still waters run deep bit here, Don's motivations are fairly easy to figure.

19. You Just May Be The One- The Monkees- Another great one from Papa Nez.

20. House Un-American Blues Activity Dream- Richard and Mimi Farina- A great song from a hip and lovely couple.  Dylan was jealous, can you blame him?

21.  Ba-De-Da- Fred Neil- We lost Fred to the dolphins. "I sure get tired, hanging around this town."

22. Love Minus Zero- The Walker Brothers- My favorite version of this song. Hats off to whoever played that guitar break, very nice.

23. Understanding- The Small Faces- The small but smashing faces! Steve Marriott, goddamn!

24. If You Gotta Go, Go Now- Bob Dylan- Dylan gives a crash course in what is commonly referred to as "the attitude".  Never been able to master this myself, to my detriment it seems. Sounds stupid kids, but it works.

25. Dark In My Heart- Lee Hazlewood-  "Woke up sunday morning and I thought that I could sing, but I can't, no I can't"

26. Places, Times and The People- Bobby Jameson- Another stand out from the Color Him In record.

27. Pocketful of Rainbows- Elvis Presley- You can't keep a good man down.

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