Song of the Week, 5/28/2017

Posted in Song of the week on May 28th, 2017 by bill

Song of the Week, 5/20/2017

Posted in Song of the week on May 20th, 2017 by bill

R.I.P. Chris Cornell

Song of the Week, 5/13/2017

Posted in Song of the week on May 13th, 2017 by bill

This week I had the privilege of seeing Leslie Feist and her band perform at the Fillmore in San Francisco. It was a superb show in every way — punctual and professional but also joyful and inspired. She even resurrected “1-2-3-4,” the 2007 fluke hit from which she’s been running ever since.

But the centerpiece of the show was a complete run-through of her new album, Pleasure. Like its predecessor Metals, Pleasure is an idiosyncratic piece of work that takes some getting used to, full of unexpected outbursts and sudden endings. But hearing it live really made it come, er, alive. And I came away really impressed with Feist’s guitar skills — I knew she had a great voice, but I never knew she could shred like that.

This video was not from the night that I went to, but appears identical in all respects — she even wore the same frock, unless she has several identical ones — except for a wee spot of technical difficulty. Dig it:

Song of the Week 4/22/2017

Posted in Somebody's birthday, Song of the week on April 22nd, 2017 by bill

Iggy Pop turned 70 this week, which is just rude.

But he’s still got a lust for life.

Song of the Week, 4/16/2017

Posted in Song of the week on April 16th, 2017 by bill

A few days ago this song came up on the iPod I keep in the bathroom, and every time that happens I end up listening to it a bunch of times because it is such a goddamn beautiful tune. It’s from Stephen Malkmus’ first solo album, which is now…wow…16 years old. Hit it, Steve.

Song of the Week 4/8/2017

Posted in Song of the week on April 8th, 2017 by bill

This week I find myself in New Orleans where, purely by coincidence, the French Quarter Music Festival is happening. This is how I came to see local legend Irma Thomas belting out “Time Is on My Side” yesterday at the “Abita Beer Stage,” sounding something like this:

Irma’s version is not the original — it was done first by trombonist Kai Winding and his orchestra in 1963. But it was her cover, recorded in early 1964, that provided the template for the version the Stones did later that year.

This song is used to chilling effect in the movie Fallen, which I think is about due for another viewing at our home. It also was featured in an episode of Treme, which was set in New Orleans, which brings us full circle and lets me get on with my day.

Song of the Week, 4/1/2017

Posted in Song of the week on April 1st, 2017 by bill

Now for something a little more contemporary…this week’s choice is a song from America’s most beloved rap duo, Killer Mike and El-P, also known as Run the Jewels.

These two guys are each talented on their own, but the chemistry between them is something special. This was on display a few weeks ago when they came to town in support of their latest album. It was flat-out one of the loudest things I’ve ever experienced – ribcage-rattling loud – but survivable with the help of earplugs and vastly entertaining. If they ever come to your town, you should check them out.

 

Songs of the Week 3/25/2017

Posted in Song of the week on March 25th, 2017 by bill

I was listening to the radio Thursday when the host teased an upcoming segment on the recently deceased Chuck Barris and I thought “No, you idiot, that was Chuck Berry who just died.” But alas, it turns out that both the Gong Show host/self-proclaimed CIA hitman and the co-inventor of rock’n’roll/ladies restroom video enthusiast departed the Earth this week, within three days of each other.

Both of these men led long and complicated lives full of triumphs and setbacks and a certain amount of just plain weirdness. I wrote about Chuck Berry on the Beatles blog today, but I did not have occasion to mention my very favorite Berry song, “Come On.” Just listen to the way he says “I wish somebody’d come along and run into it and wreck it”:

As for Chuck Barris, I recommend a spin through his Wikipedia page, where you’ll learn that in addition to being a television impresario, author, and “assassin” (the CIA denies it, but then they would), Barris was a musician and songwriter whose credits include Freddy Cannon’s #3 hit “Palisades Park.” Not exactly a lightweight.

Song of the Week 3/18/2017

Posted in Song of the week on March 18th, 2017 by bill

Recently I’ve been working on digitizing the aging cassette tapes of my old KZSC Santa Cruz radio shows, circa 1986–7, and it’s gotten me thinking it’s time to revive the old tradition of naming a song of the week. To honor the tradition I’m going to start with a classic from that era.

I first came to know Ashwin Batish when I started going to his shop, Batish Recording Enterprises, to buy blank cassettes. As my cassette needs were considerable in those days, I was a frequent customer, but to my regret I did not get to know him well and it took me a long time to learn what an interesting cat he was. And by the time I did learn my time in Santa Cruz was just about up.

It turned out, though, that Ashwin was not just the guy who sold me tapes by the case; he was a master sitarist from a long line of master sitarists. During my time at KZSC he released an album called Sitar Power where he laid classical Indian melodies over drum machines and electric guitars to create what might be called raga’n’roll. (He himself never called it that, though he did love to give his songs goofy pun names.)

My favorite song from it was one called “New Dehli Vice” on which Ashwin’s fleet fingers fly over the frets, shooting out bursts of cascading notes like sparks from a roaring fire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played air sitar to this song over the years; I was doing it again just now.

I find myself reflexively referring to Ashwin in the past tense because my memories of him are from long ago, but I just looked him up the web and he appears to be doing well. He’s on Facebook and Twitter (@sitarpower, naturally) has a website at ashwinbatish.com. He even has a new song called “Sitary Sitary Night.” It’s good to know some things haven’t changed.