Song of the Week, 10/27/2018

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

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

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.