Song of the Week, 2/11/2018

Posted in Song of the week on February 11th, 2018 by bill

I’ve been listening to a lot of The Fall since Mark E. Smith shuffled off the coil a couple weeks back. They did a lot of great — if often abrasive and difficult — stuff in their early and later years, but my favorite period is the 80s. For most of that decade Mark E.’s wife, the aptly named Brix, stirred a little sweetness into the pot of warlocks’ brew, creating something that occupied a unique place on the noise/pop spectrum. The 2-CD compilation 458489 B-Sides, which collects just the B-sides of their 45s from 1984 to 1989, is a ludicrously deep well of dark delights. To wit:

McGinty thought he could fool The Fall
With his imitation speeds
But he had not accounted for
The psychic nose
And did not know
There are no big shots on the rock
And even if there were
McGinty
Would not be
Among them

Song of the Week, 1/28/2018

Posted in Dancing about architecture, Song of the week on January 28th, 2018 by bill

Mark E. Smith

Word arrived yesterday of the demise of Mark E. Smith, 60, longtime CMO (Chief Musical Officer) of the ever-changing corporation known as The Fall. Now that he is gone, we can mark the final Fall tallies: 42 years, 60-some band members, 32 studio albums, and an unknown but immense number of live albums.

Smith was truly one of a kind. Not a musician, not even a singer, really — more a human conduit for some kind of powerful, dangerous, uncontrollable energy. This kind of thing takes a toll on a person, not to mention his prodigious and unrepentant consumption of speed, alcohol, and tobacco. So on the one hand it’s fairly impressive he made it to 60; on the other hand I kind of thought he’d keep on indefinitely, growing forever more gnarled and opaque.

In his younger days Smith was, if not handsome exactly, striking:

mesyoung

— with a fierce intelligence shooting out of his eyes like laser beams. In later years he increasingly grew to resemble Stephen Hawking:

mesold

There may be a cautionary tale there; was there perhaps an alternate route that allowed him to maintain both his creativity and his health for a little bit longer? No way to say for sure, of course; we each must choose our own path, and Mark E. Smith certainly did that.

Well, M.E.S. is gone but he left his mark. The Fall’s catalog is both deep and broad, running the gamut from the worst kind of noise to a sort of left-field pop that netted them a number of hit singles in the UK. There’s no way to pick one song that represents their oeuvre, but here’s one of their classics, with Smith ranting irascibly about the deplorable state of his current residence:

Song of the Year, 2017

Posted in Song of the week on January 21st, 2018 by bill

Now that the mandatory 21-day waiting period has passed, I can officially name a song of the year for 2017. It’s from Benjamin Booker’s album Witness, and it has everything: a stomping T. Rex beat, a sanctified aura, and that voice. Yes, that voice; it’s hard to believe he’s only 28. With any luck we’ll have him around until he starts to look like he sounds.

Song of the Week

Posted in Song of the week on December 31st, 2017 by bill

Last SOTW of 2017. No particular deep significance to this one, it’s just catchy as fuck. Party on, Garth.

Song of the Week, 12/24/2017

Posted in Song of the week on December 24th, 2017 by bill

I am not generally much impressed by displays of musical prowess. The occasional guitar solo is OK, but keep it to four bars or less, please. Bass and drum solos are right out.

But this ten-minute-long, one-take freestyle by Tariq Trotter, a/k/a Black Thought of the Roots, caused my jaw to drop. It has not yet quite recovered.

 

Chapter 24: Going and Coming Without Error

Posted in Audio transmissions on December 21st, 2017 by bill

In looking back over the history of Winter Solstice entries on this site, I was surprised that I had never actually posted this song, adapted by Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd from the Wilhelm/Baynes translation of the I Ching. It originally appeared on the Floyd’s debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which just turned 50. Still sounds pretty good to me, and whoever put this video together did a nice job:

Song of the Week, 12/3/2017

Posted in Song of the week on December 3rd, 2017 by bill

A lovely VU cover by the late Holger Czukay, of Can fame, and his partner U-She. Not far from the original in spirit, but with much lusher sound. Tonic in this week of unrelenting bad news.

Brain Stew for Dinner

Posted in Whatever Else on November 20th, 2017 by bill

Sure, the late Charlie Manson did a lot of bad stuff. But he also inspired this, one of my favorite comedy bits ever. So he wasn’t, like, all bad.

Song of the Week, 11/19/2017

Posted in Song of the week on November 19th, 2017 by bill

R.I.P. Malcolm Young, possibly the best rhythm guitarist of the 20th century.

See also:

They Had the Biggest Balls of Them All

and:

Back in Black

Song of the Week, 11/19/2017

Posted in Song of the week on November 19th, 2017 by bill

Just a fantastic title. Pretty great song, too.