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.

 

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.

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.

Song of the Week, 11/12/2017

Posted in Something about the Beatles, Song of the week on November 12th, 2017 by bill

Found this on an album called Come Together: Black America Sings Lennon & McCartney. Who would have thought “Rocky Raccoon” could turned into a funky, gritty urban slice of life? Wonders indeed never cease.

Song of the Week, 10/29/2017

Posted in Song of the week on October 29th, 2017 by bill

Most people think that “(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love & Understanding” is an Elvis Costello song, but in fact it was written by Nick Lowe back in 1974, when he was a member of the pub-rock band Brinsley Schwarz. Elvis’s version is all well and good but, hipster snob that I am, I prefer the original. After putting it on a mix that I made, I heard it several times this week, and it got better each time; it has not aged a day in 43 years, and is perhaps more relevant and more necessary today than it ever has been.

Oddly, all I could find on the YouTube was this live version:

And even that was way down the page, below EC, several Lowe solo renditions, and covers by Bruce Springsteen, Audioslave, and A Perfect Circle. The latter are actually second-degree covers: covers of Elvis’s cover, not that there’s anything wrong with that. “What’s So Funny” has also been done by everyone from Wilco, Natalie Merchant, and the Wallflowers to the Flaming Lips, Midnight Oil, and of course Trip Shakespeare. Oh, and let us not forget, Bill Murray. Peace and love, everybody.