Monthly Archives: May 2008

“The color of the dream I had”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “One Rainy Wish” from Axis: Bold As Love [1968]

Jordy and I were Google-chatting yesterday and he revealed that he had never “gotten” Jimi Hendrix. I was pretty sick of Hendrix after playing awful covers of “Fire,” “Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze,” and “Voodoo Child” in the basement with my middle school pals, but I’ve recently re-discovered the man. Check out a less famous Hendrix track and experience some defamilarization: hear Jimi with new ears. Maybe “One Rainy Wish” will convince you, Jord-man.

Amazon: Bold as Love

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 1960s, Psychedelic, Rock, Space rock

“I’ll climb the hill in my own way”

Pink Floyd – “Fearless” from Meddle (1971)

This song is motivated by one of the coolest guitar rhythms in the Pink Floyd canon. Its insistence is a terrific counterpoint to the drifting of the preceding track, “A Pillow of Winds.” And these touching vocals are some of the last vestiges of the psychedelic Floyd before they broke (fabulously) into the mainstream with Dark Side of the Moon in 1973.

I could do without the King and I singalong at the end and, indeed, the following two tracks on Meddle (“San Tropez” and “Seamus”) are throwaways. But that makes the majestic “Echoes” all the more redeeming.

Buy it here

UPDATE: Years ago, I bought a VHS tape of “Live at Pompeii” (now available on DVD) that had some pretty cool performances of Meddle songs.  You can watch a lot of it on YouTube.  The music is terrific and the overwrought shots of bubbling mud, frescoes, and a shirtless David Gilmore are pretty funny.

Posted by Jordy

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Filed under 1970s, Psychedelic, Rock

“e.g. self-satisfied, smug”

The Kinks – “Plastic Man” from The Great Lost Kinks Album (1973)

The Fall – “How I Wrote Elastic Man” from 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong comp (2004) [originally released in 1980]

Another Kinks/Fall pairing. Are these songs related at all? If so, Mark E. Smith must be a huge Kinks fan.

Those who haven’t heard the terrific Great Lost Kinks can get it here while it lasts. It’s a tough one to find otherwise.

Buy more Kinks
or the Fall

Posted by Jordy

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Filed under 1970s, 1980s, Punk, Rock

“If I’m buried ‘neath the sod/but the angels won’t receive me”

The Pogues – “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” from If I Should Fall From Grace With God (1987)

Irish folk-punk is a pretty perplexing genre. Bands like the Dropkick Murphys or the Tossers are incredible for two songs, sort of funny for the next five or six, and then incredibly irritating after that. (Case in point: listen to that “Shipping Out to Boston” song from The Departed ten times in a row, like I have, and you will understand the shift from all-out love to sheer annoyance that comes part and parcel of this genre.)

But the Pogues ain’t like that. They write complicated melodies that have an emotional power that’s kind of unexpected, and their ensemble playing is loose in the best way. Shane MacGowan’s evocative lyrics and tooth-free delivery doesn’t hurt either. In short, the Pogues rule.

I’m putting the country tag on this post, because, well…it sounds like country. Replace MacGowan with a dude with a drawl/twang and you’d have a great country song. Steve Earle knew that; that’s why he played (and continues to, I believe) with the Pogues.

Plus: look at that blind Irish guy, fourth from left. Betcha didn’t know he was a Pogue. The ineluctable modality of the visible, indeed!

Usurper.

Fall from grace here

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 1980s, Acoustic, Country, Folk, Punk

“If you had a room/he’d paint it white”

Wire – “106 Beats That” from Pink Flag (1977) and “Marooned” from Chairs Missing (1978 )

Wire are minimalist geniuses. Check out “106 Beats That,” which goes from a fast punk rant (the likes of which inspired the best American hardcore band) to some kind of mellow melodic, droney thing. All in about 73 seconds. Its sequel, in my mind, is 1978’s “Marooned,” another drone piece, and one the best things to come from the UK punk movement. And those guitar tones! Sheesh.

Buy Punk Floyd(I recommend starting w/Chairs Missing, then going back to Pink Flag – the achievement of the earlier album makes more sense that way)

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 1970s, Punk, Rock

“And I would rather be anywhere else”

Elvis Costello – “Oliver’s Army” from Armed Forces (1979)

Since Elvis Costello, there has not been another artist who could incorporate such bile into such delicious pop songs.

This tune, for instance, positively shimmers with brilliance.

Check out the slightly perplexing music video

Buy it here

Posted by Jordy

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Filed under 1970s, Pop, Rock

“Listen while I talk to you”

No, not that Shake. But “Shake,” the decent Sam Cooke composition made first great and then absolutely fucking brilliant by the Big O, Otis Redding.

Sam Cooke – “Shake” (1964)

Sam’s original version of today’s featured tune is a passable dance number in the blues vein. Here is a quote from the excellent Sam Cooke comp, Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964:

“Cut at Sam’s last session in November 1964, less than a month before his death, it marked a real departure for his music, indicating his belief that r&b (and popular music in general) was heading in a direction that more and more was ‘almost all sound. It used to be that sound brought attention to the lyric,’ he explained – but what you needed to do now was to find sounds that could ’emotionally move’ and audience, ‘inject [the kind of] fervor that makes people want to dance.'”

It’s interesting that Sam came to some of the same conclusions that Miles and Coltrane and many of the mainstream jazz cats were coming to around the same time: that the next evolution of music was harmonic and melodic simplicity focused on the overall sound of the group, not the specific things the players were playing. Nevertheless, since Sam Cooke shone best when singing highly melodic songs, this song (played altogether too slowly) falls flat to my ears.

Otis Redding – “Shake” from Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (1966)

The song was perfect, however, for Otis Redding, the king of Southern soul. He lends his throat-tearing tendencies to the tune, imbuing it with the bluesy feel underneath the original version. This is one of the key tracks on the recently re-released classic and essential Otis Redding album. Thanks, Rhino.

Otis Redding – “Shake (live)” from Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (2008 double-disc reissue)

But this. Jesus. Just try to not crack into a wide-open smile listening to this. This is the sound of pure joy (Boon/Watt notwithstanding). Seriously. Come on. This is it. Can you imagine hearing this come over the radio in 1967? It would make everything else on the dial wither away in lameness.

Incidentally, the new reissue of Otis Blue (have I mentioned it enough?) is absolutely essential. It will change your life. Your listening habits, at the very least.

Buy Sam Cooke

Buy Otis Redding

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 1960s, Pop, Soul