Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Charming Plastic Poser

For those of you too young to remember, Ça plane pour moi was a minor hit from the summer of 1978 which––as you shall hear––featured a bouncy plundering of the Ramones-karokeing-Chuck-Berry spiked with some Beach Boys styled woots all layered on top of a trendy disco beat. Here, the video presentation gets tarted up with all the trappings of its New Wave-ish time. A time that was, quite possibly, the last era––from a fashion perspective––that truly forged its own identity (IMHO).

Non-French speaking listeners may now unlock the mystery of the lyrics although I suspect something may've been lost in the translation:

Plastic Bertrand was a Belgian TV personality (whether he was prior to this record I can't tell) who Milli Vanilli'd his way (the vocal was the producer's) to a brief media success. This song may be one instance where such a thinly veiled attempt to pander to a market trend actually produced some decent results. (It was awfully catchy. Sonic Youth thought enough of it to produce their own cover.) The music itself was actually the backing track from the song Jet Boy, Jet Girl, a song with a frank gay theme that could've used a little more entendré and a little less of a 12 year old's clubhouse take of first time sex. Thanks to hip hop, U.S. radio is now loaded with similar sexual boastings (though not with gay themes, god forbid) and none of it nearly as jovial as this ditty. Even now U.S. radio has yet to tackle such themes on its airwaves (unless it's buried as cleverly as it was with Walk on the Wild Side). And the video on U.S. television? Not a chance. Take note of singer Elton Motello's t-shirt in the video below.

And then, someone had some fun with it:

And speaking of posers, here's some enthusiastic ire aimed at them from N.E.R.D. in 2001. (Though, arguably, the presenters may be doing some serious posing of their own here given the trendy paraphernalia. Still, forgivable given the results.)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Twee Twanging

North Korean childbots playing giant guitars. Possibly the most insidiously adorable WMDs in the rogue state's arsenal:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's called "Black Metal Babysitting"

Heh, heh... they burn a church.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bowie at 17

David Bowie's flair for grabbing attention goes way back apparently. The confidence of the future avant-androgyne was already firmly installed by his tender teenage. Here he his in 1964 gamely defending long hairs from persecution. The host for the establishment, as the older generation was called at the time, decided ridicule was the most appropriate response when he predictably asks teen Bowie: "Are you surprised?" (Like those who blame rape on the provocatively dressed victims.) If more men went around wearing non-traditional hairstyles what would be next? Man make-up, red mullets, and strappy platforms? The horrors.... 

Thanks to Art Chantry for the heads up.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Grinderman, Nick Cave, & Doing Without

Old guys rock.

Well, some do. Certainly you could include Iggy and Nick Cave in the category. As for Nick Cave, see him shout, screech, and scream with the singing as he works through this dirgey lament with all the fresh rage of a younger man with something to prove. Even at his ripe Grecian Formula-ed age of 56, Cave can still radiate his signature rough energy while his throaty power, if anything, has only gained with age. This is no lion in winter, people; unlike the climatic changes for most of his contemporaries, it appears to still be very much spring in Caveville.

Cave flippantly described the song's lyric as a reaction to his not getting any while he wore a mustache. As for the rest of us, its message of the body and face––and some of the fire down below––slackening with age and its effect on potential tapping should resonate. Making it all worse is the fact that those dumb, blind creatures that are our hearts still want what they want––that much doesn't change. With No Pussy Blues Cave makes an excellent case for how in the end, the pussy question never quite gets reconciled. It's the reason so many older guys resort to spiritual practices like meditation, yoga, chanting, and even religion (god forbid!): it provides a hammer to all those nails of desire that still stick up and torture us.

Young men, you'll know soon enough....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Iggy Is Old and Real

"It's just a pig-headed f**king thing I have that a real f**king group––when they're an older group––they also make f**king records.  They don't just go and twiddle around on stage to make a bunch of f**king money... this is not the f**king Smashing Pumpkins ––oh, we've got the bald guy and whoever––no... the only thing I have left to say is that The Stooges are a real group."

mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen> Iggy and the Stooges Scarecrow from Fat Possum Records on Vimeo.
Forty years after the last one, there's a new Stooges record coming. Iggy's guitarist and songwriting partner from Raw Power, James Williamson (they hadn't played together in 30 years), reunited with the passing of Ron Asheton in 2009. Ron's brother, drummer Scott Asheton––the band's only other consistent member along with Iggy––also remains. Mike Watt plays bass. (If you'd like an update on their history, here's a good one.)

Here's some of what we're in for:

Monday, April 15, 2013

An Infantile Talking Heads

Two years before the release of their first album, a baby version of Talking Heads played CBGB's as a three piece. Their performance would feature a nascent version of Psycho Killer with slightly different lyrics. At times bassist Tina Weymouth's muse is writing her a different arrangement and she jumps ahead to places singer Byrne doesn't follow. Still, this performance is a great archaeological record of an astonishingly fertile period of musical time and space, CBGB's of the late 70s, a period whose power still continues to radiate.

I was a big fan of the first three Talking Heads records and for those of us who followed Punk and New Wave fashion of the time, these albums were landmarks. Since then, David Byrne has become a TED talking elder statesmen of culture and the offshoot project The Tom Tom Club created the most ridiculously oversampled snippet in music history (Genius of Love). Still, these three albums have lost none of original their luster.

Go here for the complete video of the night's performance.

Just found this, an arrestingly reductive(!) version of 96 Tears:

TALKING HEADS - 96 Tears (1975) by Tushratta

Appreciation to Haroon Akram-Lodhi for the heads up.

All right. The video has since been made unavailable. Here's Byrne with Richard Thompson doing a two song medley that includes 96 Tears.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saint Jeffrey

This hagiographic documentary on the short life and shorter career of a Jeff Buckley may be an example of the rare occasion when the hagiographic treatment is appropriate. If you've ever wondered how something like Jeff Buckley could happen, a figure capable of becoming the major musical figure of his generation (the vid compares him to Dylan and Springsteen), then this video is highly recommend. 

If nothing else you'll find yourself dragging your old Buckleys (père and fils) out to play again.

The documentary is a heartbreaking refresher on what might've been. Maybe I'm a just a gooey sap but I've been brought to tears many times during Grace's last divine wail near the end. I've said it before, Buckley's was a voice thousands of years in the making––a voice that may be one of those moments when humanity's potential is realized (not that there aren't many others to choose from). Often such boyish beauty as his can be a handicap to seeing in the grandiose sense, but in Buckley's case his fragrance model's face may've helped to raise him to a vantage point where he could see more of life and better feel its truest yearnings. His drummer Matt Johnson argues as someone who knew him that the yearning on the Grace album is nearly unbearable. It's a caliber of yearning, he says, that could change a listener's life. Legendary Cocteau Twins singer Elizabeth Fraser and one of Buckley's idols, the two recorded a collaboration together, abashedly admits that in their time together she found it impossible not to fall in love with him.

If nothing else, this doc will help you hear his yearning and forever change the way you hear the album. Some may even fall in love.

And this: Buckley is a call-in guest on a radio program and proceeds to sing his heart out over the phone (with harmonica). When have you ever heard anyone do that? (The music doesn't begin until about 4:35.)

'I Shall Be Released' Unedited - Jeff Buckley by Jeff Buckley on Grooveshark

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Greatest Voices in Metal? *Yawn*

I grew up during the punk era so metal to me was the soundtrack for barely literate, crooked-toothed stoners, those whose THC soaked brains lacked the attention span for Dungeons and Dragons. For them, the epic sludge of an Iron Maiden or Judas Priest was the right choice––a Playskool-cum-Harryhausen version of D and D.

So it was until the 80s, an era that eschewed fairy tale phantasmagorias in favor of the more streetwise hair-sprayed bubblegum of a Poison and Motley Crue.

Still, if you're shameless headbanger who dreams of taking the family on an old school metal cruise next summer, then dig this: A list of the greatest voices in metal. Ronnie James Dio, my friends, was apparently as good as it got. This according to the forthcoming book The Merciless Book of Metal Lists. See the entire article about it here.

1. Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath, Dio)
2. Rob Halford (Judas Priest)
3. Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)
4. Eric Adams (Manowar)
5. Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche)
6. King Diamond (Mercyful Fate, King Diamond)
7. Tom Araya (Slayer)
8. John Bush (Armored Saint/Ant)

I thought you should know.

Time marches on, even for the titans of metal––Eventually, even the edgiest and coolest of us will grow to look like exotically facial-haired versions of our dads.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What Hendrix (might've) said

As said Abe Lincoln in the popular meme, The problem with quotes on the internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity. My own cursory Googling reveals many claims of the below quote as indeed Hendrix, which could represent a thoughtful consensus or just sloppy research. While Hendrix was no doubt a genius and capable of turning a clever phrase, on this one color me skeptical. Still, whoever is the author it's worth repeating. (For some reason it was paired with this rather unsagely image): 

The image below may prove that all greatness begins with a nerd––Jimi in the military at 19:

Here's Hendrix's first TV appearance from 1965––see him working it a little harder than everyone else. There are no small roles, only small players.

A year earlier Hendrix bent some strings for the Isley Brothers and made an indelible impression on budding guitarist and little brother Ernie Isley.

The classic period most of us remember:

The vid I originally posted no longer allows embedding. Here's a looser (now doubt stoned) performance from Woodstock in 1969:

And lest you think Hendrix is no longer relevant, the latest album release of his tomb-raided material just topped the charts.

And this: Prepare to fall in love––Hendrix on the gayageum (!). No lemon or "O" faces, no ecstatic head tilts or spandex, just funky as s**t playing that's tighter than J-Lo's yoga pants. Here name is Luna Lee:

More Luna Lee covers here.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I Remember

Gawd, I love this song. The original being a heart-cracking minor key lament of histrionic proportions paired with the adorable voice of The Shangri-Las 16 year old Mary Weiss. It just doesn't ever get old. Even my kids have fallen in love with it and dropped it onto their 'Pods. 

Here's a more recent rendition getting a thumb's worth of Beck juice (that's the guitar wizard Jeff, not the Scientologist) giving some new buff to the old nugget. A Jeff Beck guitar solo ain't just a wank, it's an event and Irish singer Imelda May has the equipment to keep up. She throws out some chops here that could sucker punch Bruce Lee. Sweet meat, this is.

And the Shangs from 1964: 

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Lounging Hysteria

In college I worked as a bartender in the sort of red meat and white table cloth establishment your grandfather would've gotten drunk in: Chain smokers and 10 versions of filet covered in egg yolks. Now, these anachronisms are mostly gone from the planet outside a few time-capsulized curiosities. (In my neighborhood it's The Buggy Whip and Dear John's. And, of course, there's the legendary Dresden Room.)

Piano bars were where gray-headed and tipsy patrons dropped a couple of bills in a oversized brandy snifter and requested some fusty old standard they'd never listen to at home. Where I worked only hidebound jazz purists played––to not much interest––with the occasional appearance of an Uzzi-fingered and sequined-jacketed player who'd blitz through the usual while adding the odd movie theme or show tune. (Memory and One have left bitter skid marks on my brain.) Younger guys might work in the odd pop tune (Michael Jackson or Cyndi Lauper most likely) but for the most part it was just abstracted tin pan alley tunes with a few chord substitutions.

If the lounge is ever going to survive it'll need some major retooling. There aren't enough geeks with record players and aging boomers remembering the music of their parents (like me) to feel like finger poppin' to Edie Gormé and Tony Bennett anymore. Therefore, I offer Vikatoriya Yermolyeva, Russian-schooled neo-goth piano babe and piano coverer extraordinaire. Forget Sinatra, how about System of the Down and Slayer? Then she's your gal. Vika is easily the best of anyone you'll find on YouTube and she does it without slathering on egoistic new layers of harmonic complexity. She stays true to the originals. Possibly as a result of her torturous Russian music schooling, her ear is more accurate than a cold war era smart bomb.

Dig her sexy left hand rendering of the Hysteria bass line: pure piano cover porn.  

You want to play what she's playing? She'll sell you a transcription.