Monthly Archives: June 2009

“Joan of Arc rules Northeast, where the poor and the hipsters meet”

the protaganist of the S-K song below

the protaganist of the S-K song below

Sleater-Kinney – “Light Rail Coyote” from One Beat (2002)
Bill Fox – “Portland Town” from Transit Byzantium (1998)

I’m off to Portland, OR for a week of this, this, and this. So I offer two of my favorite Portland songs, including one from our main man, Bill Fox.

What are your fave geography tunes?

Buy S-K

Bill Fox is on iTunes, but you can check him out here

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 1990s, 2000s, Acoustic, Folk, Punk, Rock, Singer-Songwriter

“Country fair in the country sun”

Sly and the Family Stone – “Hot Fun In The Summertime” from Greatest Hits (1970) [originally released 1969]

Ya know what’s sad? (No, not the death of Michael Jackson.) Sly Stone (nee Stewart)’s slow descent into addiction in the 1970s, and his sad attempts at reemergence in recent years. Before that he was one of the smartest and most creative singers and arrangers in rock and roll or soul or whatever genre he worked in. “You can’t figure out what bag I’m in,” indeed.

What’s so tragic, or ironic, is that Sly’s early vision was almost beatific in its idealism — a band of blacks and whites, men and women, family and otherwise, performing a peace-bringing mash-up of psychedelia, rock, R&B, pop, and funk. Listening to Greatest Hits back in the day, you might have thought that partying down really might bring about a better world. (Cf. “Maybe Partying Will Help,” The Minutemen, one of the few bands near Sly/Family on the inventiveness-vs.-funkiness coordinate plane.)

Parties end in hangovers, and Sly suffered from a major one.

But shit! Before all that, Sly put out a load of stone-cold (sorry) good-time classics, including “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” possibly his best, and certainly appropriate for hot midsummer. Please play it loud and often.

By the way, I agree with Christgau here: Sly & The Family Stone’s Greatest Hits is one of the greatest rock LPs of all time. Certainly better than any of The Gloved One’s creepy opi. (Sorry to dwell, but the day demands it. Dude’s overrated. MJ’s ballads, for one, are more treacly than Stevie Wonder’s, and that’s saying something. Seriously, “You Are Not Alone”? “Man In The Mirror”? Those songs creeps the fuck out of me, and not just ’cause dude liked to paw little boys.)

(Huh, apparently Sly produced the Beau Brummels back in the early ’60s, for Autumn Records. Whaddya know?)

Here’s a fascinating interview with Sly on KCRW last month.

Buy Sly

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 1960s, 1970s, Funk, Pop, Soul

“Turn around, summer’s almost over”


I didn’t even realize that we’d passed the solstice.  But that’s how Summer goes.

I don’t know why I haven’t made a Beau Brummels post yet.  Though not as prolific or flashy as their LA contemporaries the Byrds (in all candor, they even scooped the Byrds, having formed earlier in 1964), this band played a critical role in the development of countrified pop rock.  This tune is from their outstanding and mature Nashville session Bradley’s Barn.  I also include the Everly Brothers cover from their Roots record which was arranged in part by Brummels founder Ron Elliott.

The Beau Brummels – “Turn Around” from Bradley’s Barn (1968)

The Everly Brothers – “Turn Around” from Roots (1968)

Buy Beau Brummels’ Bradley’s Barn

Buy the Everly Brothers

Posted by Jordy

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Filed under 1960s, Country, Rock

“Well, all right/You know our lifetime love will be alright”

Blind Faith – “Well…All Right”  From Blind Faith [1969]

A while back I posted the Buddy Holly version of this song.  This is the Blind Faith cover.  I like the original because the lyrics, which are beautiful, are easily heard.  I like the Blind Faith version because Blind Faith is awesome.

Now, what does the above photo have to do with Blind Faith?

Blindly buy

Posted by Adam

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Filed under 1960s, Rock

Elvis Costello, live


I caught Elvis Costello at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA Thursday night.  I haven’t heard much of his new bluegrassish album but he and the band sounded pretty good.  To be honest, I have trouble dealing with great rockers outside (particularly, after) their prime, be it EC, Dylan, or otherwise.  It just seems weird.

In keeping with his appropriated American identity, he played a lot of stuff from King of America (Indoor Fireworks, Brilliant Mistake, American Without Tears) and even one from Almost Blue (Merle Haggard’s “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down”):

He also covered the Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” which seemed to draw more applause and singing-along than “Blame it on Cain” or “The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes.”  They also did a nice work-up of the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale.”

Other highlights included a couple tunes from his incomplete concept opera about the life of Hans Christian Andersen.

Buy EC

Posted by Jordy

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Filed under 2000s, Bluegrass, Live, Rock

Neil Young Archives, Vol. I; or, Harrowing Decisions about Audio Fidelity

Hey folks, there’s been a lot of ink spilled about this Neil Young Archves, Vol. I business.  As the biggest NY fan I know, I feel compelled to weigh in but also solicit your advice and thoughts on the matter.

I really want to get this box set but am not planning on doing so (right now, anyway) for a couple of reasons: firstly, I own most of these songs in their studio versions and can’t bring myself to spend a huge chunk of change for alternate versions and tracks I’ve never heard, though I am horribly curious to hear them and to see Young’s weirdo movie Journey Through the Past in its entirety; secondly and most importantly, I am overwhelmed by the options for purchasing it.  I, like all of you, don’t own a Blu-Ray player and was actually seriously considering buying a decent CD player for once in my life.  In short, this whole Archives project makes me all the more angst-ridden about how to charter my audio future.  Will Blu-Ray become the next Laserdisk?  Why didn’t Neil release this set on vinyl?  Are CDs doomed to irrelevance despite my owning hundreds of them?  At what height of fidelity are the differences negligible?  Digital music is totally and sadly divorced from the sacred ritual of listening to music but I can’t give up my iPod.

What do I do, fair reader?  I am lost.

Lost, that is, until Vol. II comes out.  Then I’ll be first in line to buy it in whatever format is en vogue.  It will cover something like 1973 to 1979, which, as I’ve said before, is a period of unparalleled rock innovation.  Witness: “Time Fades Away”, “On the Beach”, “Tonight’s the Night”, “Zuma”, “American Stars ‘N Bars”, “Comes a Time”, and “Rust Never Sleeps.”  Good lord…that’s unbelievable.

Anyway, I need some feedback here.  What audio format do you prefer? What do you all think about any or all of the following: Neil Young, CDs, vinyl, MP3s, Blu-Ray, pepperoni and onion pizza?

*sigh*

Neil Young – “Burned” from Decade (1977)

Posted by Jordy

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Filed under 1960s, 1970s, Rock

“All he asks of us is we give each other love–oh yeah!”

Marvin Gaye – “God Is Love” from What’s Going On (1971) & “God Is Love (B-Side Version)” from “What’s Going On” single (1971)

What’s Going On is a well-worn classic. Though the hit singles (“Mercy Mercy Me,” “Inner City Blues,” and the title track) are awesome, “God Is Love” shows the album at its most triumphant. (It’s also my fave song on the record.)

The earlier, slower version of “God Is Love,” was recorded slightly earlier, after Gaye’s unsuccessful tryout for the Detroit Lions (no shit!). It served as the B-side to the the “What’s Going On” single.

What’s Going On? You’re Buying The Dang Album!

Posted by Glenn

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Filed under 1970s, Gospel, Soul