That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho)Dusty Springfield -- That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho)
Day five of the sweet mix: a classic track here from Dusty Springfield. Sultry soul, my God, yes. Never gets old. I don't even know where to start with this one. It's good composition; I love the effects on the guitar; the sax and the guitar solo do their bit and don't overstay their welcome, the vocal melody and the backing to it are sublime. Drumming's on point. I could just lay back and listen to her sing all day. Really wonderful stuff.
[Amazon.com]: Dusty in Memphis
John Lee Hooker and some referer oddnessJohn Lee Hooker -- Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine
Here's a track from John Lee Hooker, sort of a lazily gloating number. Hooker isn't quick to get into fourth gear but still I think he beats any number of bluesmen around the block. This track is from In Person, which is sort of the banana pepper of Hooker's discography; if you want the Thai pepper, you should look into The Ultimate Collection 1948-1990. There are any number of good compilations of his work, but he was prolific and most of them are limited to the works he did for one certain label; The Ultimate Collection is no exception, but I think it comes close to getting all the best tracks.
I'm leaving town tomorrow for two and a half weeks, but I've got some posts written up and I'm aiming to get online sometime on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to keep the posts arriving while I'm away. There's a link for a site feed in the column at left, if you'd rather know when there is a new post, rather than when one was intended.
Apparently I'm #20 on yahoo's list for "Sly and the Family Stone," which is just wrong, wrong, wrong. It hurts my head to imagine that someone thinks my short writeup is 20th best on the web. Not bloody likely. Try these instead: wikipedia's article or allmusic.com's article.
I think that yahoo's ranking points out a fundamental weakness of ranking sites according to how often they're linked to, which is that it doesn't address the different reasons people link to them: commerce, or freebies, or scholarship, or derision, or any of six dozen other motivations.
I'm also high on search engines for "Joe Sun," which is just fine. I'd love to put him back on the map; he deserves it. Apparently he's staying in Nashville TN these days, playing in local venues. The album I got which had such high praise from Johnny Cash was Out of Your Mind; I've also recently found I Ain't Honky Tonkin' No More but it was while preparing for this trip and I haven't had time to listen to it yet.
Since Google likes me ... here's a penny into a well for one Tony Fernandez, guitarist and singer, former Bruja singer, former Van Dyke Cafe singer, formerly of Gainesville, formerly of Boca, who has dropped off the face of the earth: if you should happen to land on a passing spaceship or extraterrestrial space-swimming turtle, try to steer it back to Earth and drop me a line. And send me some music to post. What I've got is an eight-year-old warped cassette showing a lot of promise. ^_^
technical difficultiesMy hosting provider, box.net, is currently having some technical difficulties; they expect to be back up within a couple of hours. I'll have a new music post tomorrow (Monday). Thanks--
Sweet Marijuana (Brown)?Julia Lee -- Lotus Blossom (Sweet Marijuana)
Barney Bigard -- Sweet Marijuana Brown
Two vintage smoky jazz tunes today, a bit of pro and con like the faceoffs on a bad news show. Julia Lee wants you to know that marijuana can sooth her with its caress and help her in her distress; Barney Bigard warns that Sweet Marijuan Brown is frantic, directionless, and dangerous. I haven't known many people to get anything much like "frantic" from smoking out, and I can't help wondering if Bigard's getting his information from Reefer Madness. Lee at least is honest enough to admit she's indulging in fantasies when she talks about how she'll get her man back if she smokes enough.
... The U.S. Supreme Court decided yesterday that it's okay to seize private property for other private enterprise provided that the private enterprise (in this case, a strip mall) is for the "public good." Now, personally I consider strip malls for the public bad, just like SUVs and open sewers, but the Supreme Court seems to believe in trickle-down (was that ever anything more than a weak attempt at robber baron self-justification?)
It's a poor decision as I see it, but I wonder if it could be used for archivists and librarians to declare "eminent domain" on abandoned intellectual property. It's troublesome and counterproductive to have songs and films and books about which can't be re-used in some way originally intended by the Constitution (that is, in the progress of the arts and sciences--in commentary, in scholarship, in archiving) because the rights holders can't be found. At least in this case, you wouldn't be kicking a family out of its house; the work has been abandoned; there's no paper trail to contact the rightsholders (or compensate them!); and so the seizure would be victimless.
[Amazon.com] Barney Bigard -- 1944-1945 (Allmusic.com review)
[Amazon.com] Julia Lee -- Kansas City's First Lady of the Blues
Bill WithersBill Withers -- Sweet Wanomi
Bill Withers -- Then You Smile At Me
Something about posting all these things that are out of print ... it's nice to be able to post something and say "look, this here is in print, and it deserves to be." So. Some things today that are in print and deserve to be.
"Then You Smile at Me" is an open, friendly sort of song: strings, bass, baritone sax, and a bit of exuberance. The track's off Menagerie, Withers' next album after Sussex went under and he switched to Columbia.
"Sweet Wanomi," off the Just As I Am half of Just As I Am/Still Bill, is another summery song, an uncomplicated track about a solid relationship. The pacing, the guitar, and the keyboards are all sweet, and the lyrics are too.
Both of these are chipper tracks, though Withers had some others that weren't so happy: songs about prostitution, or loss, or relationships in trouble. I'd considered posting "Grandma's Hands"--a sad and touching song: short, respectful, full of love. "Hope She'll Be Happier" is a slow one about a failed relationship; even the instrumentation conjures loneliness; "Moanin' And Groanin'" is a soulful track with a loose funk to it; "Lonely Town, Lonely Street" is a classic; "Who Is He (And What Is He To You)" is a suspicious, even paranoid, number about a tense relationship. And I think it says something for the crew's cleverness and creativity that they can take something like "Let It Be" (a somber, arguably leaden and ponderous, track) and reinvent it, with the guitar and the handclaps telegraphing buoyance and joy. But I'm going with the summery feel today, because it's warming up and we've had some beautiful days.
I would have been happy posting ten or twenty Withers tracks today, but in a miracle of restraint I won't. I'll just say that if you're one of the people who bought Bill Withers' best-of comp, you're missing out. 'Justments, Withers' catalogue's red-headed stepchild, has some great work on it (or, as a former professor might say, "some nice moments")--e.g. "Heartbreak Road," which I posted some time back, and "Can We Pretend." The man's got talent. He's worth a deeper look than you get on the best-of collection. Menagerie is solid; and then Just As I Am and Still Bill are jaw-dropping, brilliant work.
And a repost from the yousendits, to kick off a short sweet mix. Billy Preston -- Sweet Marie, previously covered here.
[Amazon.com] Just As I Am/Still Bill
Does anyone know if there's a way to have Blogger auto-post certain entries at certain times? I'm about to be away for two weeks and I'm writing up some posts to go in while I'm away.
Dragon -- Sunshine / Blacktown Boogie
Dragon -- Blacktown Boogie
Dragon -- Sunshine
Dragon were a rock band from New Zealand, much more popular in the Antipodes than they ever were stateside. Allmusic.com has a writeup of them that makes them sound more like something out of La Dolce Vita or Satyricon: surrounding themselves with drugs, strippers, transvestites, animals' head on mic stands--a real carnival atmosphere. Fortunately the music's worth checking out.
"Sunshine" is one of those songs you didn't know you knew. It's a pop ballad; I don't think I've posted one before and I'm not sure I'll post one again, but I love that melody on the chorus. The triplet figure on the piano works well, especially with the backbeat and the subdued guitar. The sax is a bit much but, well, it is a ballad.
I think I've seen this song used in a movie montage but I can't remember which film; the song has a "dappled sunlight/late spring" feel to it that could almost work for the romance/wedding sequence in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.
"Blacktown Boogie" is a much funkier song; the main riff moves along at a steady clip; the bass is understated, sort of a kissing cousin to Tina Weymouth's work in Talking Heads; and the piano is, again, a nice touch. Lots of fun.
Dragon are still in print, mostly in greatest-hits comps. There's this one at amazon.com, a single disc greatest hits comp which allmusic.com rates quite highly, and also this one, which is that disc plus another of curiosities and so forth, which allmusic.com rates a bit lower. I don't know which to recommend, as I've only heard their 1977 LP Sunshine, which these come from.
Then, for all your Dragon biography needs, there's a fan page with a lengthy writeup of the band
I got an email yesterday from Will Georgantas with Thunderegg, telling of an ambitious project to record one song a week for the year. In a rare show of motivation I went right off and downloaded some. I recommend "Hall Pass" and "It's Not You, It's Not Me (It's Her)," which both have a sort of lo-fi They Might Be Giants charm to them. The band's recording them on a four-track and digitizing from that, and Georgantas freely admits the technical limitations, but it's nice work: geeky, friendly, occasionally introspective, with a light humor throughout. The band promises a new song every Monday. Can't beat that. Check it out.
Are you thinking?
Deniece Williams -- Are You Thinking?
1979 R&B track today from Deniece Williams, who's probably best known for "Let's Hear It for the Boy" off the Footloose soundtrack. This one is the flipside to the promo single for "I Found Love," off the Columbia LP When Love Comes Calling (which was produced by Ray Parker Jr). Hm. ^_^
The track has Williams pleading in soulful soprano, over wailing guitar and squelching organ, for her man to wake up, stop dreaming, and realize what he's got.
So far as I know the track isn't available on CD, though you can find "Let's Hear It for the Boy" on a few different discs. If that's the kind of thing that floats your boat.
smart-music.net, CommonTunes, two repostsI've reposted the Stargard and Urban Blight writeups so that they're not through yousendit and you can just right-click/"save as."
I got a press release from theAgriculture records some time ago, about a CD compilation for download--"fifteen tracks in all of butt shaking dub/hip hop/roof music madness." I've been listening to it for a week or so, forgetting to mention it here. Bad, bad blogger. It's good work.
I've also gotten an email from CommonTunes, "a platform for sharing links to freely available music and for uploading your own music to distribute via BitTorrent." Near the end, the email solicited music for sale by BitTorrent, which seems an unusual idea. I wonder how it would work without writing a new frontend for BitTorrent access (or maybe they have already). I'd been to the site before and was somewhat puzzled by it--I think they'd do well to put up a FAQ--but at any rate it sounds like an interesting project and I wish them all the best.
yousendit and a Joe Sun/Shotgun re-postAlmost no one is bothering with the yousendit downloads, so I decided to give box.net a try. At $2.99 a month, that's something I can afford; I'll just have one fewer Chocolate Silk.
I've reposted the Joe Sun tracks from June 7th and The Darts from June 10th because they're out of print, I think they're great, and almost nobody heard them. You can go there now and right-click "save as" without getting the screen in between (and the wait for yousendit to respond).
I'll repost Stargard and Urban Blight--also out of print--tomorrow.
If anything I posted recently intrigued you but you didn't bother with it because of yousendit, just let me know. ^_^
tougher than ... something that isn't tough
Affable enough fellows.
Urban Blight -- Get Closer
I picked this album up expecting it to be intellectual hip hop from the mid-1980s: Urban Blight in orange graffiti in the sky over some buildings that have seen better days. Then I flipped it over: white men in Bermuda shorts on the beach acting wild and crazy. In concert: guitar, drums, two saxes, a trumpet, a trombone, a keyboard, with an alarming amount of plaid and what looks like tweed. Not hip hop, I would guess; more likely ska. I debated whether to get it--hadn't I heard all the ska I wanted to? But get it I did, and I'm glad.
It's a six-song EP. One of them ("The World Keeps Spinning") sounds very familiar, maddeningly so--I know I've heard it in a DJ mix by either The Avalanches or Terranova, but I can't find it on any of the CDs or mp3s (it segues from "stomp your feet and move your body" into "The World Keeps Spinning," but sung by a woman). I know I've heard it on the radio a lot, in the late 1980s, before that, but I can't remember the singer.
That's not what I'm posting here. "Get Closer" is an optimistic song that starts off commenting about loss and then pleads for unity. The rhythm's nice; the vocal melody is too; the dual horn/guitar solo is tip-top; and I really dig the horn fills and the bits of syncopation. Overall the song just gives me a case of the warm fuzzies. That's something I've been in short supply of lately, and I'll take it where I can find it.
Stargard taking it back, lowdown dancing. And Hello.
The Changing of the Gard -- 1979/Warner Bros.
Stargard -- Take Me Back
Stargard -- Lowdown Dancing
Two disco tracks today from Stargard's 1979 album The Changing of the Gard. "Take Me Back" is happy and chipper, made with an eye on the dancefloor, daring you not to feel it.
"Lowdown Dancing" is slower, with a laid-back funk: chicka-chicka guitars, sliding/thumping/bumping bass line, horns. You know the drill. Good stuff.
On another note, Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing was recently raving about Party Ben's mix "Led Snooppelin." It's not bad, but I really can't get behind heavily censored lyrics. My money's on "Gorilla Cake" and the Killer Killers EP; check them out.
Spread the Good Word is killing it lately. Have you been? Go. ^_^
software rant below; feel free to ignore
I am trying to figure out the Hello program for posting photos to Blogger. As far as I can tell, either it's brain-damaged or I am. Why is there no immediately and blindingly obvious option to write a decent-sized titled post and include a photo with it? Is that unheard of? Where is the übersecret helpful help-file? 'Cause the one they have isn't always even right (e.g. double clicking on the Blogger icon does not always take you to a screen with a link labeled 'web link' on it).
Currently I have to:
a) write the post but not post it
b) post the photo
c) go modify the photo post, pasting in the text.
I must be missing something obvious. Or perhaps the GoogleLords are.
I was also quite annoyed at having that little bar keeping popping up, over whatever I was doing, about the program scanning my photos. I already told it to go ahead; that bar needs to do its work in the background.
Right now the UI on this program looks like a low C. I'm surprised it's proved as clunky and annoying as Mozilla's calendar app.
The Darts and the allmusic.com correctorThe Darts -- Peaches
The Darts -- Let's Hang On
The Darts -- False Alarm
The Darts -- Hit and Run
Tunes today from doo-wop revival* retro, occasionally doo-wop band The Darts (these Darts, not those), off their (long out-of-print) 1981 Kat Family Records LP Across America. There are three songs on it that I don't like; they're all covers and they all have the same singer. I don't know which of the eight men this was but the other seven, and the woman, should have taken him aside and let him know--as kindly as they could--that he had the vocal range of Ben Stein. The man can't handle "Reach Out (I'll Be There)" without changing the mode, making the melody much more pedestrian.
Fortunately the other seven tracks on the LP are rock-solid, starting at good and working up from there. Sometimes I think the only thing I know for sure is that the world is a very strange place: this band deserves to be in print, and doo-wop deserves a revival.
"Peaches" is an Ikettes cover about a woman in search of a man, sassy and joyful. "I know I found the boy to marry 'cause my life's been a bowl of cherries, like peaches and cream." Honey, I believe you.
"Let's Hang On" is a cover of a song made famous by Frankie Valli, and I'd never considered it before but suddenly I can see his influence on musicians ranging from the Beach Boys to Maxwell. The track's got muted horns, distorted guitar, and major-keyed interlocking melodies.
"False Alarm" is a love song, a man pining for a woman that doesn't need him. It's all drums and male vocals, one of the men providing the vocal bassline.
"Hit and Run" is another love song, this one about a love that's turned: the man left, the woman is bitter, saying she'll never love again, swearing she'll keep looking, hoping that the same thing happens to her ex.
All of these tracks are a lot of fun, really great work.
* update: Thanks to Billy K from The Fabulous Harmonaires for the correction. And if you like these Darts tracks, give the Harmonaires' site a visit; they have a couple for download.
And a note for firefox/Moz users: The allmusic.com corrector extension lets you do the kinds of things you're used to on other sites, such as opening links in new tabs or using "right click-->save as." It also nixes the "read more" links on albums, simply giving it all to you up front. Very nice.
Joe Sun with ShotgunJoe Sun with Shotgun -- One Timers
Joe Sun with Shotgun -- Home Away from Home (I'll Find It Where I Can)
Joe Sun with Shotgun -- A Little Bit of Push
In a hardware store today to try to match some hex-head screws for a super-sturdy bookcase, I noticed the far wall was completely lined with bins of LPs. This was a good find. $1 apiece, and it had some gems. I spent hours looking through them, found obscure bands from Brussels and from New Zealand, and a few classics (Bill Withers -- Still Bill) in fair shape. This one was one I picked up on a whim. Supposedly you can't judge a book by its cover, but I judged the LP by its cover--thought to myself "I bet this guy's got some solid music." It wasn't until I got home that I noticed the blurb from Johnny Cash:
Joe Sun is the greatest new talent I've heard in twenty years. His style is unique, his songs are super. He is in a class all by himself, and he's first class. If he continues to keep his individuality, and always remembers who he is, what he is, and where he's going, he will soon be one of country music's biggest names and with his diversified talents could become one of the all time greats in country music.
Allmusic.com doesn't have an entry for him--bio or discography--but countryworks.com does. Sounds like an interesting character, though he never had the level of success, on his own material, that you'd hope for after hearing the LP. As far as I can tell his music's all out of print, though I'd be glad to find otherwise.
"One Timers" is about loneliness, real friends, and fair-weather friends. The steel guitar's tip-top; the rhythm rolls along nicely; and the flourishes from the backup female vocalist make for nice icing.
"(Home Away from Home) I'll Find It Where I Can" is another track about loneliness, though this one is to a S.O. and is threatening infidelity. According to allmusic.com it was written by Michael Clark, and Jerry Lee Lewis covered it the year before Joe Sun (Waylon Jennings followed suit a few years later). I like it, though I'm not in favor of cheating in general. It's a bold, brassy track, not one to put up with any shit.
"A Little Bit of Push" isn't a saucy disco track, though it might sound like one. No, it's about dreams: working towards them and not. Tells a nice story, but then, success almost always makes for a nice story. It's in sort of a Charlie Rich/Harry Chapin vein (but with better singing than Chapin can muster). Again, the music's good enough but Sun's backup vocalists (Suzee Waters, Lea Jane, Phoebe King) make it all the better.
These songs should all have been big radio hits but weren't.
... On another note entirely, Murder on a Sunday Morning. Dayum. Greatest film I've seen in a long time. 'nuff said.
Flares, Foot Stomping, Fists of Fury, BulletteThe Flares -- Foot Stompin, Part 1
Silly/happy number today from doo-wop group The Flares. They had a number of lineup changes, including several different female vocalists who were almost all not on their album covers. Through it all this was their only hit, though they kept trying for another. The problem was that most of them sounded more than a little like this one. It's easy to see why they'd keep trying for that same magic again--the track is infectious fun--but it's a fool's quest in my opinion. Best to move on and try something else (wouldn't that change the face of modern music, if everyone did?)
If you're thinking The Flares sound like The Coasters, then I'd have to congratulate you on your perspicacity; there's a tangential relationship. Cornell Gunter founded the group and went on to The Coasters, where he was met with somewhat greater success. Still, there is a similarity between the two in the structure, instrumentation, and vocal delivery, though I think The Coasters have wittier lyrics.
Change of subject: has anyone sampled the soundtrack from Fists of Fury, just before the 2nd-to-last fight? Because, well, someone needs to.
And, to cap it off: Monika Bullette sent an email about her CD, which I didn't quite know what to make of at first (she's in good company; I hated Pet Sounds when I first heard it--I think sometimes I'm just slow at figuring out what rules certain music has decided to govern itself by). Anyway, Bullette's work has been praised by Said the Gramophone, Spoilt Victorian Child, Large Hearted Boy, and Mystical Beast (all by better writers than I am), so if those sound like your kind of music then check it out. And if they don't, check it out anyway. It's odd, innovative work, fun and striking and just good. I don't know which to emphasize, though I think "Don't Start Believin'" and "Disappearing Act" are as good a start as any. Go poke around; you'll be pleasantly surprised.
CalexicoCalexico are the latest band to smite me with their greatness. As you'd guess, they mix guitar, horns, scrapers, and the rest of the typical shebang together, but somehow it comes out sounding new and energetic rather than rote and tired. Maybe that's because they also toss in cellos, banjos, mandolins, and synthesizers. Or maybe it's that some of their tracks channel Radiohead and Portishead, full of distortion and menace and ill omen, and others seem to have been lifted from the "happy ending" track off an unmade Sergio Leone film. From what I've heard so far (Convict Pool, Feast of Wire and The Black Light), it all works.
Calexico's cover of Love's "Alone Again Or" (off Convict Pool) is immediate and impressive, but I'm going to run on the assumption that you've all heard that one and thought it was a fluke. ^_^ (You have all heard it, right?) So here are two that maybe you haven't.
Calexico -- Minas De Cobre (For Better Metal)
This one has an arpeggiated guitar line you'll recognize from "Malagueña" and other mariachi songs. If the track were a play it would go something like this:
1: Wow, everything's just great!
2: Damn right. Let's ride our horses in the sunset and build a bonfire on the beach.
Calexico -- Black Heart
And the play to this one:
1: Wow, everything's just great!
2: [too weary to laugh, too indifferent to argue] You just go on ahead and think that.
... In other news, Oscar Brown Jr. died May 29th at 78. BET has a good writeup; The NY Times does also; and John at the Tofu Hut had a good post about him in March of last year. I can't add much to that except to say that it's a real loss to music.