Song of the Week, 3/10/2019

Posted in Song of the week on March 10th, 2019 by bill

As fate would have it it, this song came up on the ol’ bathroom iPod yesterday, the very day that JC turned 77. 52 years after the first VU album, he’s still out there doing his thing — there he is on the Instagram, futzing around in a recording studio. Cale won’t quit as long as he’s vertical, and I for one take comfort in that.

Song of the Week, 2/16/2019

Posted in Song of the week on February 16th, 2019 by bill

So I just saw this video for the first time in… hmm… 35 years? Hard to believe it’s been that long since the golden age of MTV, but that’s what the math says.

I never forgot this song, which is a four-minute blast of relentless forward momentum that always gets me hyped. But I had forgotten about the video, which is a perfect visual analog: The camera never stops moving, the people never stop running. Ah, all that youthful energy…. Watching it makes me feel 17 again for a minute. Or four.

Of course after seeing this I had to run out and buy the album, which was not that good. It had one other catchy track and the rest was filler. After that Belfegore disappeared into the crevices of history, never to be seen again.

But they had four glorious minutes, which is enough.

Party Like It’s 1994

Posted in Dancing about architecture on February 14th, 2019 by bill

A tweet from Matador Records today alerted me to the fact that Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain was released on this day in 1994, making it 25 years old.

At the time, this was an album that took me by surprise. I was one of the few in my peer group who hadn’t drunk the Kool-Aid on Pavement’s first album, Slanted and Enchanted. In historic perspective Slanted is a great record — I stand corrected on that one — but still I approached Crooked Rain with some skepticism.

It didn’t last long. Crooked Rain is a masterpiece right from its opening seconds, in which a loose, shambling agglomeration of guitar and drum noises starts, stops, starts again, and eventually resolves itself into a towering, monumentally catchy riff. From there it’s off to the races:

And I don’t necessarily want to get into a whole thing about Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain today — it’s one of my all-time favorites, and I don’t have time to do it justice. (You can read good, lengthy takes here and here.) But it’s just the leading edge of a wave of stuff that will be turning 25 this year, including Pulp Fiction, Kurt Cobain’s suicide, and a whole bunch of great albums:

  • Laurie Anderson: Bright Red/Tightrope
  • The Beastie Boys: Ill Communication
  • Beck: Mellow Gold
  • Frank Black: Teenager of the Year
  • Cake: Motorcade of Generosity
  • Gang Starr: Hard to Earn
  • The Jesus & Mary Chain: Stoned and Dethroned
  • Love and Rockets: Hot Trip to Heaven
  • G. Love and Special Sauce: G. Love and Special Sauce
  • Portishead: Dummy
  • The Roots: Do You Want More?!!!??!
  • The Silver Jews: Starlite Walker
  • Soundgarden: Superunknown
  • Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Orange
  • That Petrol Emotion: Fireproof
  • They Might Be Giants: John Henry
  • Uncle Tupelo: Anodyne
  • Ween: Chocolate and Cheese

Holy hell, that’s a lot of great music for one year, and all over the map too. Anyone who want to talk trash about the 90s will have me to contend with — you know where to find me.

 

Song of the Week, 2/9/2019

Posted in Song of the week on February 9th, 2019 by bill

Today’s song of the week comes in six parts, the first of which dates to 1969, when a Belgian pop-rock group called the Wallace Collection recorded a song called “Daydream” (not to be confused with the contemporaneous Lovin’ Spoonful hit of the same name):

According to Ye Olde Wikipedia,

The song was a hit in mainland Europe, though popularity didn’t make it to English speaking countries, despite its use of English lyrics.

Apparently some of the melody was lifted from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, which would take this history all the way back to 1876. But Philistine that I am, I will leave the classical stuff to those with longer attention spans. Read more »

Song of the Week, 1/27/2017

Posted in Song of the week on January 27th, 2019 by bill

dmc

What DeMarcus Cousins listens to before he gets dressed for the game:

Song of the Week, 1/13/2019

Posted in Song of the week on January 13th, 2019 by bill

Timely, no?

Song of the Week, 11/4/2018

Posted in Song of the week on November 4th, 2018 by bill

Sing it, John.

Song of the Week, 10/27/2018

Posted in Song of the week on October 26th, 2018 by bill

Tony Joe White, the king of Swamp Rock, passed away this week. I must admit I didn’t really know his music, aside from “Polk [not Pork] Salad Annie,” which was famous for being covered by Elvis. But as it happens, just the other day, I heard this song on the radio as I was driving home from the Bay Area. It’s a good ’un.

 

Song of the Week, 10/13/2018

Posted in Song of the week on October 13th, 2018 by bill

While driving back from the Bay Area this week, I heard the following and had a real WTF moment. If you want to do the same, listen before reading any further:

This turns out to be the work of one Bruce Haack, an electronic music pioneer who built his own synthesizers and put out lots of records, including one called Electric Lucifer that was fairly notorious in the 70s. Upon repeated listening “When Mothers of Salem,” culled from a recent compilation of his previously unreleased music, is maybe not quite as mind-blowing as I first thought; but I like the groove, and I’m always a sucker for weird songs about Jesus.

Through a strange series of circumstances, Haack appeared on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood back in 1968. Fred was super-into it:

As were the kids:

I think that last clip has been somewhat manipulated after the fact; the original seems to have been blocked by PBS, which now has Mr. Rogers behind a paywall. My instinct is to say “Screw you, PBS”; but I know Fred would want me to be nice.

Song of the Week, 9/30/2018

Posted in Song of the week on September 30th, 2018 by bill

Word arrived today of the demise of Otis Rush, one of the more underrated bluesmen. Though less than a household name, he was a guitarist and singer of raw, simmering power. Don’t take my word for it; here’s no less an authority than Lester Bangs, in Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung:

His singing is as fierce as any of the other Big Boys in the neighborhood, but it’s that guitar work you’ll keep coming back for. It’s beyond blues, beyond rock, certainly into atonal propositions too lewd for a family publication such as this. It sounds like giant bloody icebergs shuddering up to crunch together in the deepest, longest night of typically endless midwestern winter, and if you don’t think there’s icebergs in the Midwest you’ve never been here. This album is a masterpiece. It has nothing to do with anything but pain and hate and exorcism and impossibility, and if I were you I’d buy it.

I honestly had no idea that Otis was still alive, so it would disingenuous of me to feign great sorrow at his passing. But he was the man in his day. Check out, for instance, this oddly jaunty little number called “Violent Love” — blues guitar and cognitive dissonance at their finest.