Saturday, November 28, 2015

40 Year Itch : Give Me Missing Persons

Steve Prefontaine, 1975

  Jimmy Page called Little Feat his favorite American group. At their height, they were Elvis Costello's favorite too. He saw them open for The Doobie Brothers in 1975. Jackson Browne called Lowell George "the Orson Welles of Rock".

  But just as all those years on the road were about to pay off and make Little Feat a household name, Lowell George began downplaying his role in the band. Maybe it was the other projects he had going on ( he produced other artists and helped Emmylou Harris and Rickie Lee Jones get Warners contracts), or his head butting with keyboardist Bill Payne. Maybe it was his health. But The Last Record Album sees Payne and guitarist Paul Barrere taking on more of the songwriting responsibility. They were good for one sure-fire classic, "All That You Dream", but for me the highlight is Lowell's soulfully sung "Long Distance Love" and just about anything he played on slide guitar. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Rainn Wilson : The Greatest Albums of the Early 80's

   I'm reading Rainn Wilson's entertaining and thoughtful memoir because we both share Western Washington roots and I just want to let people know there's a chapter dedicated to his favorite albums of the early 80's. Until a friend passed him some cassettes with The Clash, The Police, Squeeze and Elvis Costello albums on them, he was a dedicated Classic Rock fan. He would soon don rectangular sunglasses, a skinny piano tie, and begin taking acting lessons.

    The chapter featuring his fave albums has fun descriptions I won't repeat here because I seriously fear the wrath of Dwight Schrute. And trademarks and stuff.

The Clash London Calling 
Talking Heads The Name of This Band is Talking Heads 
XTC English Settlement 
Squeeze East Side Story 
Elvis Costello Imperial Bedroom 
R.E.M. Reckoning 
Laurie Anderson Big Science 
Husker Du Zen Arcade 
The Replacements Let It Be 
X Wild Gift 
Violent Femmes 
The Smiths

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

40 Year Itch : Lady Madonna Let It Be

A poor man's Moody Blues? Where Pink Floyd meets Bread? While the jury may be out on Barclay James Harvest, most rock fans are at least amused by "Titles" the first time they hear it. It's a song made up in large part of Beatles song titles so you get lines like “Across the universe one after 909/I’ve got a feeling for you blue and I feel fine”. The second time they hear this 1975 single, they may not be as amused. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

40 Year Itch : Chauffeur Driven

    This UK #5 hit was the poppy preview to 10cc's weirdest and, I think, most wonderful album How Dare You! By this period, 10cc was a band made up of two fairly distinct songwriting teams: Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart, both veterans of the 60's pop machines, wrote the easily accessible stuff ( like "Art for Art's Sake") while Lol Creme and Kevin Godley wrote the truly bizarre art school stuff. How Dare You! would be their last album together and it was the second album ( after Revolver)  I ever bought with my own money. I'll save a lengthier wrap up for the anniversary of the album's release.

   A fan of pop, I've always liked the straight ahead "Art For Art's Sake", even when it takes that Zappa like detour in the middle 8. Many rock historians say the song's title is inspired by the MGM motto "Ars Gratia Artis" but the songwriters say it's a line Gouldman's dad, Hymie,  used to always say to the band: "Art for art's sake, money for God's sake, okay"

Thursday, November 19, 2015

40 Year Itch : Ha Ha Woman

  Further proof that sometimes the best songs are the ones written in half an hour. A Top 10 hit in both the US and the UK, "Evil Woman" entered the US charts at #87 in mid November, 1975.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

40 Year Itch : A Broken Promise or a Broken Heart

Photo I shot this Summer of my hometown

    I don't have this album, but having heard the two tunes posted below, I feel like I must be missing out on one of 1975's most beautiful releases. By 1974 Richard and Linda Thompson had adopted the Sufi faith and moved into a commune. Their sheikh had originally forbid them from recording music. On the other hand, they owed Island Records another album. It was like a toss up between Allah and Richard Branson. A compromise was reached and the couple recorded subtle songs of faith. 

   "Dimming of the Day" has often been interpreted as a love song but I don't think it is. The lyrics could just as well be sung to God:

 This old house is falling down around my ears 
I'm drowning in a river of my tears 
When all my will is gone you hold me sway 
I need you at the dimming of the day 
You pulled me like the moon 
Pulls on the tide 
You know just where I keep my better side 
What days have come to keep us far apart 
A broken promise or a broken heart

  What stands out is Linda's beautiful voice and Richard's eloquent guitar. Stunning! "Night Comes In" is simply epic. Perhaps Pour Down Like Silver is the real gem in the Thompson's discography.

Monday, November 16, 2015

40 Year Itch : Born to Waste

   Only The Kinks ( and maybe The Who) could make three chords sounds so great! "The Hard Way" comes from the unfairly dismissed Schoolboys In Disgrace concept album, released in November of 1975. Although the chords may return listeners to the days of "You Really Got Me" and "I Need You", the lyrics are lines from a sexually repressed headmaster lecturing schoolboy Flash "You're much too dumb to educate/One day life's going to turn around and slap you in the face/Then you're gonna find out the hard way."
    There's a punk edge to the tune which made its way onto the Kinks set lists from the mid-70's to the mid 80's. I first heard it on the live 1980 album One For The Road. The song was later covered by The Knack.