Friday, September 27, 2013

May need more outputs...

Thanks to Jeffery Porterfield for the heads up.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tom Jones Forsakes Vegas and Kills

That's Sir Thomas John Woodward AKA Tom throw-your-panties-at-me Jones AKA Mista Jones with thirty-six Top 40 hits and seller of over 100 million records leaving his Vegas schtick behind and joining CSNY on stage to testify his ass off (and pulls Stephen Stills up a few notches too). Long Time Gone never shredded like this.

Reportedly (not found on his Wiki page), Sir Tom played with a blues band called The Squires in the early sixties and was well known to the pre-fame wave of Brit blues rockers. (I can't find any Google corroboration.) Tom could go Cavern Club if he wanted but probably figured out early on that the stacks of panties were higher in Vegas. No doubt had Tom spent more time in Memphis and less time frontin' variety show orchestras his soul shouting bona fides, to use an Elvis analogy, might've been more black leather than white. To wit:

Tom rocking the Beatle boots and DA comb back. Here's the Tom we all remember, playin' to the ladies and wringing every drippy spoonful out of a mawkish ballad but still killin' but in more of an American Idol sort of way.

Tom could've been great. Instead, he chose successful. Too bad.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Heavy Metal Piano

Once, a friend asked me to join her at El Coyote (the oldest Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles) to meet a couple of cohorts from a band she was playing in. She generously introduced me to the table as "a very talented keyboardist." (She was being kind. I had some ideas but not much for chops.) Seated at the table were the band's creative Svengali and another member who also happened to be his girlfriend. Following that introduction the first thing out of Svengali's mouth was "I hate keyboards."

Despite his apparent lack of socialization (eventually his girlfriend smoothed things over) and that polemical beginning, I could appreciate his sentiment. Keyboards do have a tortured history.

I suppose I can understand how someone with a low threshold for bitterness might treat keyboard music like a Fox News watcher does facts. If all you heard were Flock of Seagulls, Styx, Liberace, The Human League, whatever is playing at the local piano bar, prog, or the DX7 (see below), you might be justified in claiming that keyboards—and it's ugly bastard child the synthesizer—were the culprits of many a musical misdeed. But unsubtle taste and self-indulgent wankery isn't the fault of the gear anymore than smart phones are responsible for sucking every last ounce of people's attention.

And then there was the Yamaha DX7 ('83-'86), a rig of such a brutal sound—like so many wet fingers on processed glass goblets—it could make even the most seasoned bluesman come off like Yanni. As a result, lugubrious ballads grew up around it like jungle vines on a teeth-on-tinfoil soundwave. And it wasn't just the DX7, there were other culprits as well—the Junos and Jupiters, the Oberheim Xpanders and Matrix-12s, the Prophet-5s, and the Kurtzweils to name several—but the DX7 was truly the most fiendish of devil spawn.

All of that aside, obviously, in the right hands the piano is an instrument of devastating power, capable of spectrums of color and temperament unlike any other. In addition, no other instrument can describe such a sludgy, deep, and trenchant landscape as the piano. What else can create such morbidly fat chords and tone cluster collisions? What else owns such Godzilla-like lower registers and is capable of sledgehammered fortissimos? All of this makes the piano the ultimate chisel for avant-garde sound sculptures. Not even the most agonized, overdriven guitars or banks of synthesizers can compare—I'd argue that it's the ultimate metal machine. And it had its own special class of radical champions—to wit:

Some intemperate banging from Prokofiev. Compared to the four below it, this piece practically hummable. It is also by far the least abstract. I've long been a fan of this one:

Another Russian, Leo Ornstein, sometimes called a futurist, and the tone cluster seizure that is his Wild Men's Dance (Danse Sauvage):

Ornstein also wins points for cools titles—this one beats both the Jaws and Psycho themes for creepiness factor:

Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian expressionist, Nazi certified degenerate artist, and so called major landmark of 20th century musical thought, proves here that metal on the piano needn't be played loud. It's the asymmetrical rhythms and tonal patterns that make atonal music the ultimate in metal—like a brain on a defibrillator. You want anarchy? It doesn't get any more so than this.

Some notes on the Serialism and Atonality thing: Free Atonality, the precursor to Serialism, explored the concept of abandoning a tonal center and hierarchy (i.e., the significance of the dominant, subdominant, major/minor thirds, etc.) in composition; Serialism emerged later as a method of giving entirely equal significance to every note in a chromatic scale in a progression. You could see how a melody would have difficulty surviving in such an environment.

Here's a brutal one. Another Russki only this one a female: Galina Ustvolskaya. This tantrum of a piece is much like a more artful pounding of a face against the keys. About her work she says, "There is no link whatsoever between my music and that of any other composer, living or dead." Wiki calls it blocks of sound. (I prefer my description.) Sonata No. 6 seems to have the characteristics of being written as someone in the next room was being interrogated on the keys by the Russian Mafia. It does have a sense of humor, though. While the other pieces here tend to be more mercifully short and deadly serious, this one goes on and on with long interludes of clustery sounds. It's as if its going on too long is its punchline.

This Stockhausen piece may be the speed metal version of metal piano (note the pianist's gloves) or a Jackson Pollack painting as a score. Once, during a performance of the piece (it quiets down some and goes on for 22 minutes) the composer reportedly banged a key so hard the key broke and flew into the audience.

I await the advent of the piano metal years in pop music. Though, however promising the possibilities, I suspect we'll see Godot before it happens.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Music that Matters, Pt 17

168) Peter Gabriel, The Passion: From for Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ—but you knew that—a soundtrack that surpassed the film it represented (see another example below) and deservedly so. The music itself is an admixture of world musicks (esp Middle Eastern, south Asian, and African), Bernard Hermann, exotic instruments, ecstatic vocalizations, earthy percussive layers, and misty banks of ethereal electronica. In the process Gabriel may've given us a glimpse of what prog might've been had it a few more stamps on its passport and spent more time looking forward and not back. But it also had something missing from most prog: great songs. Well, maybe not songs proper as much as hints and fragments of them. Enough to make this meditative, transportive, and sometimes ambient music much too engaging to be mere aural decoration. Released in 1988, it still stands as some of Gabriel's best work.

Of These, Hope by Passion: The Last Temptation of Christ OST on Grooveshark

The Feeling Begins by Passion: The Last Temptation of Christ OST on Grooveshark

169) Pearl Harbor and the Explosions eponymous album: Admittedly, it's the kind of down-the-middle-pop we usually eschew here at Jellyroll. But what made this record transcendent were its jazzy voicings and funky basslines of the kind that weren't and still aren't heard much outside of R and B. Though the band had some New Wave pretensions, its harmonic inventions and a rhythm section tighter than Miley Cyrus's latex were well outside the margins. (The bassist and drummer were brothers.) As a presence, singer Pearl Harbor/Pearl E. Gates (also former wife of Clash pretty boy Paul Simonon) was a cocktail of equal parts gorgeous and nerdy. Her voice had a distinctive sound if not style, and her unpretentiousness was downright infectious (see video below). Even with a song like Drivin', which one could argue is about as straight ahead example of pandering pop as it gets—with lyrics more than a trifle pedestrian, it's those dense chords and ethereal interludes that indicate something much deeper going on, as if in the latter bars the guitarist tried to squeeze in a funked up mini-opera.

You would've thought they could've been bigger.

Here's a vid of them playing live on ultra low-budget public access program ca. '79 - '80.

Drivin' by Pearl Harbor & The Explosions on Grooveshark

170) Rodger Collins, She's Looking Good: A horndog classic from 1967 with some amusingly sinister overtones (momma get your mojo/and poppa get your gun/I'm gonna steal your daughter...) guaranteed to put a stir in your loins. Collins had regional hits and some success in the UK in the late '60s and early '70s, did some years in Vegas until he went all Cat Stevens and converted to Islam and changed his name. And like Stevens, he'd get pulled back into secular music and would record as Rodger Collins. God may be great, but the devil always wins with the music.

A recent article on Oakland's greatest soul singer.

She's Looking Good by Rodger Collins on Grooveshark

171) Carla BleyRawalpindi Blues: From her little "j" jazz opera (too much rock to go all big "J"), Escalator Over the Hill. Bley is one of those players who couldn't play it straight if she tried and for which the perfect metaphor can be found in her hair: uncontrollable, unlike anyone else's, a bit kinky, otherworldly, and covering her eyes like a sheepdog's so you never know where she's looking or what she's thinking. (Her hair has its own genius.) Her  musical style is feminine—understated, introverted even, emotionally articulate and without much of the egoistic meat waggling that many of her male counterparts succumb to. Overall, her style is to whisper rather than a scream. In an argument you could imagine her as the kind of person who'd go to her room and lock the door rather than cut up all of your clothes and throw them out the window. Musically, screams have their place but a whisper can be very nice too. Many of the best things you'll ever hear will come in a whisper.

172) Universal Congress of, Prosperous and Glorified: One of Los Angeles's great jewels of the underground: Smart instrumental music with vocals, tasteful saxophone, and a rhythm section capable of making bitches out of other rhythm sections—altogether tight as a four-fingered fist. A kind of hard rock bebop with a heavier and garagier undercurrent with strains of jump blues that extend far beyond typical blues structures. I suspect these dudes had impressive record collections, all the right influences are there. They can swing and rock, sometimes like Miles, sometimes like Can, sometimes like a demolition derby between Coltrane and Richard (Little, that is) but always for the greater good. I discovered these guys by chance playing in an Orange County park one weekend and followed them to the end. This album was their peak and it's a mighty damn good one.

173) Marvin Gaye, Trouble Man: A titanic influencer of sub-genres, Marvin Gaye was a musical unicorn capable of farting rainbows at will. He was both a massive hit machine and artist's artist who showed considerable depth in his classic middle period. (We'll put aside his disco period.) Also, he may've had possession of the greatest falsetto that ever was. As a singer he sent out throaty missiles that were full bodied, intense, innovative, and strategic. His style was the model of casual intensity and to think he started out as a drummer—imagine our loss had he stuck to the stool. He could also write, arrange, and groove like a motherf**ker. He could drop panties with his high wail and had more sex appeal than is contained in a Superbowl beer commercial. There was just about nothing he couldn't do; he may've been the Leonardo da Vinci of soul and pop.

There are a lot of great Gaye tunes to choose from but this one in particular did something for me, especially that "I know some places..." word barrage. This is Gaye's slow jam groovy version of Jumpin' Jack Flash ("I come up hard baby, but now I'm cool") and beats his predecessor by a mile on passion. 

Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye on Grooveshark

174) Cocteau Twins, Persephone: Of the many great female rock singers available, there are but a few that guys who don't shave their chests will leave out when their friends come over: Chicks who've that certain quality that resonates in our testosterone, like black clad angels in Doc Martens with tool belts. Of the olde guard, singers like Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, and Etta James were in the category; more recently PJ Harvey, Björk maybe, viragos like Meshell Ndegeocello, Brody Dalle—and Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins. Blame for shoe gaze, emo, and a dozen other little sub-categories as well as shameless addiction to all effects digital can probably all be laid at the Twins' feet. But then again, none of those other bands ever had an Elizabeth Fraser. Her voice was pretty but in an athletic way; it's ethereal and fey yet not airy-fairy; she has range, restrained power, and even some eccentric sexiness. (She's also geeky cute.) Plus, the fact that she doesn't even sing real words kind of goes right to the egghead part of my libido. She's the complete nerd package.

Persephone by Cocteau Twins on Grooveshark

175) Jimmy Cliff, others, The Harder They Come OST: Reggae for people who don't like reggae (and those who do). A bigger spliff-full of catchy classic tunes with the double riff and pounding third beat you'll never hear anywhere. Jimmy Cliff may've been the Sinatra of reggae, his singerly and melodic voice is a departure from the usual cottonmouth stylings attendant of the genre. A monster album, a great poster, and a pretty good movie, too.

The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff on Grooveshark

176) The Pop Group, Thief of Fire, Blind Faith: A dubbier, melody murdering version of Nick Cave of the Birthday
Party period. Also layered with little bits of Yoko Ono, Johnny Rotten, Ornette Coleman, Brother Theodore, Flying Lizards, and a slurry-load of an "I don't give a f**k" attitude. You've to wonder what kind of career suicide it took to sign these guys. Or maybe it was a a jokester's sabotage, like peeing into the office coffee pot, before quitting the company. Whatever, I'm glad someone had the guts to do it. The punk/post-punk era gave us a few avant-gardists (Residents, Birthday Party, Suicide, James Chance, etc) but by the Kaja Goo Goo/Flock of Seagulls '80s they were all but gone. It's a Shame. We could have used more of their antidote. This is the music of your nightmares and the sort of record to put on when you're hating on your parents.

Blind Faith by The Pop Group on Grooveshark

Thief of Fire by The Pop Group on Grooveshark

177) Peggy LeeIs that All There Is?: The Leiber/Stoller anthem to disillusion you would've never thought these composers of sweet bubblegum like Yakety Yak and Poison Ivy were capable of. Peggy Lee gives it some tongue and cheek, but like the best tongue and cheek, there's an oracle of truth behind it. Lee had a kind of three martini softness to her voice that gave whatever she sang an unmistakable sultriness. It's a voice that also sounds like it has tears in its eyes when she sings Let's break out the booze and have a ball. The arrangement, with the circusy tuba, winds, and banjo brings the right spoonfuls of pathos when stirred together with Lee's touches of humor, a humor that colored much of what she did. (She wrote lyrics for the songs in Lady and the Tramp, after all.)

Is That All There Is? by Peggy Lee on Grooveshark

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I Call Your Miley Cyrus and Raise You a Mick Jagger

So, former Disney child-bot Miley Cyrus attempts to add an urban edge and adult entertainment* aesthetic to her brand and in the process raises a kerfuffle. With the help of a latex granny bikini, some arse presentation, crotch-to-crotch twerking, racial and sexual stereotypes, general pandering and otherwise poor role modeling, her VMA performance goes viral, stirs some loins, and excites a media spew cycle into hyperdrive.

Why the ado? I, for one, don't get it. Putting aside the obvious racial issues, (which is a whole other discussion), was her so called sexed up performance really so boundary pushing? Considering what Jayne Mansfield did with a with a neckline nearly 60 years ago, and Madonna's Boy Toy floor show in '84, not to mention bumping and grinding going back to the '70s, I'd say no. And as for the twerking and diddling with that oversized foam finger, even those seemed tame compared to what Madonna and Britney Spears did with their tongues back in '03. I will say that Cyrus's apparent eagerness to submit herself to a kind of hoary version of objecthood was disappointing. For all of Madonna's erotic explorations, she always managed a kind of liberation and female emancipation, even when she flirted with bondage.

*Then, as if to put an exclamation point on her VMA aesthetic, this: Objecthood squared—the pitiable scorned woman in her requisite period of self-immolation (or whoring as the vid seems to indicate).

What I find more troubling was Mick Jagger's lechy and coercive Lolita/granddaughter fantasy performance with Christina Aguilera.

Sure, the age difference is creepy but it's only part of the issue: If crinkly Viagra Spider Mick can still draw in the blondined flies, more power to him. The bigger issue is how he lords his status over Aguilera as he pulls her in for the Jagger dagger and his other various skank. Aguilera, who's clearly honored to be on stage with these iconic grayheads, is also loath to act in anyway unbecoming to Sir Jagger. Jagger for his part was acting much more like Chester the Molester than what we might have expected from the exalted Knight Bachelor, father of seven (four daughters), and four-time grandfather.

Judge for yourself. The fact that these overripe "bad boys" The Stones can have their tours underwritten by multinational corporations and share the stage with comely pop celebrities to be ham-handed and drooled over by the legendary lips may just be the spoils of a unique success. (And so "every hero becomes a bore at last," as said Emerson.) And while the moves may not quite be like Jagger anymore, Sir Mick still seems to think so. Maybe in the presence of sweet smelling Aguilera he just forgot for a moment what a Grecian Formula-44'd, Retin A'd Viagra cocktail that he actually is. (Doesn't he at one point ask Aguilera don't you want to f**k with me?) And honestly, ol' Mick doesn't sound half bad.

Then again, maybe we should all be so lucky.

The lyrics of Live with Me were featured in the textbook of my first college literature class. (They were pretty good, I'll give you that.)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Norwegian Funny

One of the jobs here at Jellyroll is to bring the viral to you—grayhead and pop culture marginals—who may not have otherwise been aware of some of the timewasters circulating through your beleaguered culture. Right now this could be standing between you and your working toward your dreams.

Anyway, this video is presently blowing up meme-scale and it's by a Norwegian duo that may be Scandanavia's answer to Flight of the Concords, Ylvis. (They have a chat style television show on Norwegian television.) If you haven't seen The Fox, see it here: I think don't get the fuss myself but the wife thought it was larfs aplenty.

And here's another: I prefer this one to The Fox. Is Ylvis funny? I can't help but think a little something is getting lost in translation. Besides, The Smothers Brothers are more my cup of tea. But you be the judge:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Flyer Crush

Love (mostly) punk flyers? Especially those from the late '70s to early '90s classic period (pre-digital, DIY period)? Then, have I got something to you:

Once, long, long ago, I drudged as a clerk in the corporate-music-industrial-complex cocoa plantation that was known as Wherehouse Records. (A few locations still survive, somewhere, but mostly what remains is here.) While I doing my time I did manage to get my hands on a hand silkscreened two-color flyer signed by Gary Panter for this Screamers show at the Whiskey (below). It now resides in my collection of graphics that includes copies of the official record company issued posters for the Sex Pistols and The Stooges Metallic KO. I'm a non-fanatical and rather lazy collector and those three pieces pretty much constitute the entirety of my collection but I do greatly appreciate the hastily assembled, low budget graphics that these images serve as glorious examples. They don't make 'em like this anymore, people.

For a far larger cornucopia of vertiginous and eye ecstasising imagery, go to

But before there was a classic period of punk graphics, there was Frank Zappa who almost singlehandedly invented punk's future visual language and aesthetic with a gluestick and a pair of scissors.

Later, Zappa would recruit artist Cal Schenkel to great effect. Schenkel, who lived and worked exclusively with Zappa for a period, would further articulate and expand on the style:

Reknowned graphic artist and amateur visual historian Art Chantry posted a nice article on Zappa's early graphics and the advent of Cal Jankel on his Facebook page. (The text below is an exerpt from the article. Note his characteristic habit of eschewing capitalization):

back in september of 1966, a freaky weirdo dude named frank zappa wanted to get some exposure for his sleazy weird band of misfits called "The Mothers". warner brothers records later arbitrarily changed their name to "The Mothers of Invention" in order not to offend any sensitive folks out there. when you look like these guys and sound like these guys and you call yourselves The Mothers (aka as in 'motherfuckers'), you can SORT of begin to understand the fear. this was (after all) 1966! what was the world like in 1966? yeah, NOT like this... 

so, frank zappa decided the best way to get some exposure for his band (so they can get some paying gigs out there in Teensville USA,) he needed to do what everybody else was doing in the marketplace - rent a hall, hire a whole bunch of bands to play there with you as the headliner. you bill it as a "teen spectacular" or perhaps a "teenfair". but, being frank zappa (who really does not think like a normal human being AT ALL) invited the weirdest bands around and the strangest artists in LA to help set it up and called it a FREAK OUT!! good luck with that, frank...

For the entire article, go here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Music that Matters, Pt 16

158) Stevie Wonder, Maybe Your Baby: This from the period when Stevie was doing the Prince routine of playing and singing everything himself (except for Ray Parker Jr.—yes, the Ghostbusters guy—on the acid-toned guitar). Besides that epitome of funk underwater-Clavinet sound and his signature synth bass lines, what makes this Baby such a bitch are those layers of ecstatic background voices. I'm guessing they're all Stevie run through some sort of effects treatment. The humor and power of them are a shot of laser to your earhole. (The I'm a little boy line kills me everytime.) This is nasty funk with some thick rock barbecue sauce—which Wonder's best stuff always was—guaranteed to make your fingers sticky.

Maybe Your Baby by Stevie Wonder on Grooveshark

159) Traffic, Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory: Winwood's singing diction was closer to an infant choking on pablum than the Queen's English and that was part of its appeal. But put a phase on his voice, as done here, and it's utterly indecipherable and the song is all the better for it. (Read Capaldi's lyrics and you'll see that they're astute and imagistic but they could've also worked as utter gibberish and the song would've succeeded—it's a brilliant title, though.) An elemental fuzz of the riff plays over a drone of a bass line, Chris Wood's sweet flute, and bouncing-on-the-cobblestone-path of the conga and all of it fitting together like Tetris pieces. This was one those songs that drove a nail straight into my frontal lobe the first time I heard it. Why hasn't someone covered this already?

Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory by Traffic on Grooveshark

160) Otis Redding, Try a Little Tenderness; That's How Strong My Love Is: Redding was a ridiculously gifted singer with a tone as fat and wide as '75 Eldorado. It was a voice with an emotional core of truth, no histrionics or faux charm, and what British singer Lulu called a tear in his voice. In 1966 Redding took this standard from 1932, following treatments by Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke, rearranged it with the help of Isaac Hayes and added equal parts church and sex (his father was a minister) and forever made the song his own. Ironic too because the publishers filed a restraining order against him for releasing it (probably found it too sexy and/or too black). Thankfully they didn't prevail. Wiki explains the intricacies of the arrangement, suffice to say the accompaniment provides a worthy parking spot for the vehicle of Redding's voice. Promoter Bill Graham claimed that Redding was one of the best performers he'd ever seen, and the video below gives a glimpse. He could write too: Check That's How Strong My Love Is. He must've been a charming guy because it just seems to ooze out of him all over the place.

A BBC documentary on "the ultimate soul singer of the American South" can be seen here.

That's How Strong My Love Is by Otis Redding on Grooveshark

161) Love, Forever Changes: With varying measures of baroque, psychedelia, folk, and even hints of Brian Wilson, Dylan, and The Music Man, a few spoonfuls of syrup and some straight up MOR, theirs was a sound that bounced between progressive and regressive at the same time—that was Love. This time out it was strings and horns instead of electric guitars (it was the era of Sgt. Pepper after all), session players filling in for the band as it was falling apart (this would be the last album with this line-up). The lyrics at times tend toward middle school sophism on life's big questions, Arthur Lee was no Jim Morrison, but he has his moments and he always sings 'em like he means 'em. Like another El Lay band, Spirit, Love was another spoke of the city's great Golden Age wheel of bands that didn't move the units nearly the way they deserved (e.g. The Seeds, Music Machine, The Mothers of Invention, Captain Beefheart, Sparks, et al). But time has been good to Love and Forever Changes especially, not the least of which is that monster Alone Again Or which is just cake icing because the album would be great even without it.

Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale by Love on Grooveshark

162) Todd Rundgren, Hermit of Mink Hollow: Todd, the boy genius, often showered with praise for his craft and promise—he did write a bagful of great tunes—but he never seemed able to deliver on the promise with a great album. Until this one. Larded up with a career apogee of songs covering all of his favorite proclivities––the saccharine pretty ballad (Lucky Guy, Can't We Just Be Friends), the de rigueur Motown tribute (You Cried Wolf), the spotlight guitar wank (Out of Control), the life-affirming-up-tempo-please-use-this-in-a-commercial ditty (All the Children Sing, Fade Away), the Philly roots R and B throw down (Hurting for You), and straight up MOR (Bag Lady)––they're all here and more. Todd has also proven himself to be one of the most consistent producers-for-hire in the business, often taking artists to their own career high best work (Patti Smith, New York Dolls, XTC, The Tubes, Badfinger, Grand Funk Railroad, and loads more). On Hermit of Mink Hollow he finally returns himself the favor.

Determination by Todd Rundgren on Grooveshark

Bread by Todd Rundgren on Grooveshark

163) Dillinger, Cocaine Running Around My Brain: A knife, a fork, A bottle and a cork, that's the way we spell New York. Prolific reggae singer Dillinger created this seemingly naive little rude boy shuffle exercise in 1976 with a near outsider art, backwoods folk art style lyrical flow undergirded with a Playskool butt-shaking vamp. Had it been anything more and the song would be less than it is. Maybe it was done as a kind of method singing to demonstrate the destructive power of cocaine. Whatever it was, it works. (Accept no substitutes: there's a remake floating around out there but this is the definitive '76 version.)

Cocaine In My Brain by Dillinger on Grooveshark

164) Good Bait: A jazz evergreen written by Count Basie and pianist Tadd Dameron (based on the Rhythm Changes) drops you into the tiger pit somewhere in the second and third measures, that duh-da-da-duh da-duh-da-duh-da-duh-duh... right there. If that doesn't get you then forget it, I don't want to talk to you. It's the note that goes that goes in a slightly different direction than what you're expecting is where the magic is. There are musicks where we want to know where it's going, demand it—folk, traditional blues, hymns, and I'd argue even modern urban folk music like Hip Hop and Metal—and there are musicks we want to enjoy the little hidden Easter eggs; Good Bait is one of those. It goes out of the gate with a major chord and immediately steps into a broodier couple of minor chords that have the song trampolining between yuks and melancholy like a pre-menstrual clown. It's a oner.

Two completely different treatments: Nina Simone makes it into a blockbuster salon piece, and Coltrane posts it up like a game-winning penalty kick—fakes going down the middle and then sticks it in the top left corner.

Good Bait by Nina Simone on Grooveshark

Good Bait by John Coltrane on Grooveshark

165) Nino Rota, Cadillac from La Docle Vita and others: He wrote some of the sweetest, most melancholy, and most quintessentially Italian soundtracks to ever be cut into a scene––The Godfather (AFI puts it #5 on the greatest soundtracks of all time), Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, La Dolce Vita––and then, not unike his countryman Ennio Morricone, he keeps the achingly beautiful never too far away from the Felliniesque grotesquerie. I suppose we should expect no less from a country that'd give us Sophia Loren, Cicciolina, Il Duce, and Roberto Benini.

One my all time favorite movies featuring one the greatest pairs of thespian eyeballs anywhere, Giancarlo Giannini from d'Amore e Anarchia (Love and Anarchy):

What Is A Youth by Nino Rota on Grooveshark

La Poupée Automate by Nino Rota on Grooveshark

Cadillac (La Dolce Vita) by Nino Rota on Grooveshark

Cupido Ha Sonno - La Maestra D'Amore by Nino Rota on Grooveshark

166) Jeff Beck Group, Ain't Superstitious: One the best guitarists of the rock and roll era is also one of the most overlooked. The album, Truth, is what many consider the first hard rock album and with Ain't Superstitious Beck bangs out a quintessential, light on the chords, bent-up, channel surfing Jeff Beck guitar showcase (try listening on headphones). In case you didn't know, if these guys could've gotten along better they may've been the British supergroup (from 1968, out of the gate a year before that other supergroup, Blind Faith, and Led Zeppelin) and might've been made into legends had they chosen not to think Woodstock was a waste of time: also featuring a very restrained Rod Stewart on vocals, Ron Wood with a very guitarist kind of bass playing, and star blues drummer Micky Waller. Many pretenders fooled with their Cry Baby pedals (Santana, Eric Clapton) but Beck here teaches a master class. If you're a guitar player and you're not listening to this guy, well then brothers and sisters, you're fools.

I Ain't Superstitious by Jeff Beck on Grooveshark

167) Tupelo Chain Sex: Let's just call it years ago, I moved to NY's East Village. At the time New York had an extraordinarily fertile downtown music scene with musicians working outside of traditional rock idioms––No Wave, post-rock, improvised music and fake jazz, world music, fusions and hybrids all over the place with the one common thread of rock indoctrination. There was some great stuff and astonishingly little crap as is most often the case. Before my journey to the East I discovered Tupelo Chain Sex. Now, granted, they weren't quite as exciting as their moniker promised, still, they were starting to scratch at something interesting. They were probably more retro that post-rock but it was an experiment worth taking. This was the blowback to the moussed and over programmed synth starched bands of the '80s, in that space before shoegazers and grungers stole the groove and took us back to plaid shirts and bong smokers tempos again. 

I suspect that the video below dates somewhere from the late '80s. Note the appearance erstwhile young, sometime scribe, and always foxy Pleasant Gehman (in the leopard overcoat and garter belt).

Monday, September 2, 2013

Screaming Memes, etc

(Source: The Sourpuss)

Devo officially released the inspiration for their Are We Not Men? album cover. According to their version, golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez was contacted about the use of his image. He apparently was enthused about the prospect and made the band to promise to give him copies of the record to hand out to friends, etc. When the album was released Rodriguez was disappointed to see the image had been altered. (A mash-up of four presidents was added to the golfer's likeness.)

(Thanks to Art Chantry for the heads up.)

In what surely must be a seal of the coming apocalypse, Disney has released a t-shirt that plays on— that's right—the first Joy Division album cover. (The fact that the band's name was Joy Division should've been enough to give them pause.)

Anybody remember how those early portable CD player's skipped all over hell during car rides? The mind reels at the prospects here:

Ever wonder what that stuff is they made Keith Richards out of? (The same material as those aircraft black boxes?) Lemmy may be made out of it too.