Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bashing the New Year in With The Clowns!




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Happy New Year from Seattle!
Thanks for reading 1001Songs.
See you in 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

#49 Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks: Canned Music, 1969


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Nearly ten years before Jonathan Richman decided his Modern Lovers had to turn down the volume, stuff a pillow or two in the bass drum, and add some pretty voiced girls to the mix, Dan Hicks did just that with his Hot Licks. He even gave the pretty voiced girls a name: The Lickettes.




    Hicks had been the drummer for The Charlatans, one of San Francisco's most influential psychedelic rock bands. Psychedelia may be the only genre of music you won't find on Original Recordings. You'll hear jazz, swing, and country and western. The lovely "Canned Music" is a sweet reminder that live music can be twice as good as hearing anything on the radio or jukebox.

Dan Hicks is still touring. He's as ageless as the music he plays.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I Was A College Radio DJ In The 80's: Dumptruck - Back Where I Belong


[buy it]


Dumptruck, one of college radio's favorite jangly guitar pop bands, was formed by two Connecticut songwriters who met in Boston. Seth Tiven and Kirk Swan seemed to share an affinity for the dual guitar attack of Television and the morose lyrics of Joy Division.




For their second album, Positively Dumptruck, Tiven, Swan and their rhythm section teamed up with producer Don Dixon whose recent credits included R.E.M., Guadalcanal Diary and Tommy Keene. Great stuff! We played the very hell out of this album at WTUL, but if Dumptruck ever made it to New Orleans I missed the show.  I did see Dumptruck open for Big Time Records label mate Alex Chilton in San Francisco in the fall of '86.
    Must have been a dismal tour because when it was over...so was this incarnation of Dumptruck. Swan left. Tiven kept the name, recording an even better Dumptruck album in 1987, the Wilco-esque For the Country. In 2001, Dumptruck released a live album of recordings made in the mid-80's, Lemmings Travel to the Sea,  along with a disc of recent material.
   I can't vouch for that one but both Positively and For The Country are can't miss classics from an era when jangle pop ruled college radio.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation: Parliament to Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes





[buy it]

1. Parliament's 1975 platinum funk album Mothership Connection was the first to feature Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley who had left The JB's, James Brown's backing band.



[buy it]

2. James Brown liked his horn sections. What Brown didn't like was having an opening act mock him on stage. Joe Tex did just that, tossing a blanket over his shoulder and singing "Please, please, please-get me out of this cape!" They had some history. Brown thought Tex swiped his dance moves. Tex knew Brown swiped his wife. When JB shot at his rival in a nightclub, he wound up paying off customers hit by stray bullets with $100 bills. Tex emerged unscathed.




[buy it]

3. Joe Tex released his #2 R and B hit "The Love You Save". You can find it on the Joe Henry produced soundtrack to Jesus' Son released in 1999.





[buy it]

4. The Jesus' Son soundtrack also includes Barbara Mason's " Yes I'm Ready" a  #5 pop #2 R and B hit from 1965. The lush strings are an early example of what would become the Philly Soul sound.




[buy it]

5. Those strings were played by the house band of Philly's Sigma Sound recording studio. They played on hits by The O'Jays, The Spinners, The Stylistics and many more...including their own #1 hit in 1974, as MFSB ( Mother Father Sister Brother, not Masters of Funk Soul and Blues). The song,"TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" became the Soul Train theme.
The man on the top right corner is drummer Earl Young.





[buy it]

6. Before he founded The Trammps ( of "Disco Inferno" fame) , Young is credited with inventing the disco style of rock drumming with his use of the Hi Hat cymbal, first heard in 1973 on the Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes' #7 hit , "The Love I Lost".

Monday, December 26, 2011

Joe Jackson: All Time Fave Songs


As told to Smash Hits Magazine for their August 23-September 5, 1979 issue via Like Punk Never Happened . That year Joe Jackson released his first two albums, Look Sharp and I'm The Man.


[purchase]

1. Bruce Springsteen: Born To Run
1. The Clash: London's Burning
1. Prince Buster: Al Capone
1. David Bowie: Drive-In Saturday
1. Gregory Isaacs: Mr Know It All
1. Public Image LTD: Public Image
1. Taper Zukie: M.P.L.A.
1. Big Youth: Hit The Road Jack
1. Ray Campi and His Rockabilly Rebels: Teenage Boogie
10.The Legendary Stardust Cowboy: Paralysed

a) "Choosing ten favourites is hard enough; putting them in order is impossible. Anyone who can name their favourite record ever must have narrow musical tastes. Therefore I've chose nine number one's.
b) Number 10 is probably the worst record ever made.
c) Reggae is my favourite music so I've chose four reggae tracks.Next time I do a top ten it'll be four different ones.
d) I didn't choose anything more than three or four years old except Prince Buster-the old favourites are everyone's favourites."


Big Youth: Hit the Road Jack




Legendary Stardust Cowboy: Paralysed

Friday, December 23, 2011

All I Want For Christmas...




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The 1001Songs Holiday Theme song.
Enjoy the holiday weekend and come back soon, ya hear?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Own Top Ten ( A List Made in 1984)

My top 10 albums as provided to WTUL's Vox Humana for the Spring 1984 edition, just weeks after I had joined the staff. I still listen to all of these albums.



1. The Beatles ABBEY ROAD


2. Talking Heads '77





3. Mott the Hoople ALL THE YOUNG DUDES





4. R.E.M. MURMUR




5 Otis Redding THE HISTORY OF OTIS REDDING




6. The Jam ALL MOD CONS





7. Bob Marley And The Wailers RASTAMAN VIBRATION




8. Al Green GREATEST HITS



9. T-Rex ELECTRIC WARRIOR




10a. Love FOREVER CHANGES




10b. Squeeze ARGYBARGY

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prince Concert, Tacoma, December 20,2011


On the last night of what must have been an exhausting tour, the purple gnome played a predictable set that, even with two encores, timed out shorter than a Winnie The Pooh movie. Maybe he was in a bad mood. Maybe was feeling that short-timer thing. Maybe he had a bad case of the Muhnnnn-Days.

Prince failed to sell out The Tacoma Dome. My wife and I bought cheap seats and got moved up to Row 25.
Wearing a black doo rag, high heeled shoes and several pounds of silver jewelry, Prince emerged from a smoke screen playing "Let's Go Crazy" followed by "Delirious" and "1999". The crowd went wild. He would also play "Little Red Corvette", "Raspberry Beret", "When Doves Cry" and "Kiss". Prince's guitar work reportedly made Pearl Jam's Mike McCready drop his jaw.  Yes, at times we were in the presence of a master showman.

Then there were other times. He brought 68-year old Maceo Parker out  a few times too many to show us all what a sax can do. Is this not a too obvious attempt to grab the "King Of Soul" scepter from James Brown? Some of his supposed ad-libs ("You don't have to watch Dynasty ...or Real Housewives" from Kiss) were at least part of his Vancouver act. And when he sat down at what looked like a piano, it appeared instead that he was playing a karaoke machine ( for "Alphabet Street" and "I Would Die 4 U"). What's worse? Lip-syncing to real instruments or singing karaoke? Finally he made the classic "old and in the way" speech about radio play: "You want to occupy something? Let's occupy the radio stations" before launching into an over-the-top rendition of "Nothing Compares 2 U".

After two brief encores of "Purple Rain" and "Controversy", the Prince had left the building. It was 10 PM. The lights went up but nobody believed the show could possibly be over. It was for us....and the people who had paid $200 for floor tickets. But not for Prince who  headed up to Seattle for an after party where he jammed with his band for 90 straight minutes.

I finally got to see Prince. I probably don't need to see Prince again.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Glenn Tilbrook Of Squeeze Picks His All Time Top Ten


As told to Smash Hits Magazine for their July 11-24, 1981 issue ( via Like Punk Never Happened ) At the time Glenn was promoting East Side Story released by Squeeze two months earlier.

1.Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestra Circus" Quick Joey Small ( Run Joey Run)  - First ever punk record.
2. Michael Jackson: Don't Stop Til You Get Enough - The definitive dance record. Wish he'd record one of ours.
3. Jimi Hendrix: The Wind Cries Mary - Understated guitar. Underrated song.
4. Robert Wyatt: Strange Fruit -Bessie Smith song in the 30's which made 7 people commit suicide when first played on the radio
5. Madness: All the Madness singles - An incredible singles group
6. Cliff Richard: Devil Woman -Classic British pop production by the old devil himself.
7. The Monkees: Last Train to Clarksville -Classic US production-line pop
8. The Beatles: Strawberry Fields Forever - Damn good backwards bit at the end
9. Elvis Costello: Alison - Simply one of the best songs ever , written by one of the best song-writers.
10. The Undertones : It's Going to Happen - THE Summer record of '81. And probably '82/3/4/ etc.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011: A 40-Something Music Snob Picks His Top 10 Songs

If you're over 40 you simply don't have time to keep up with what the kids are listening to these days. You're too busy watching your career slip away, trying to raise children and cleaning out hair from the drain. ("You're not losing your hair, " the Super Cuts stylist says,"you're just shedding".)

 Here now a helpful, at times obvious, guide to the music you've been missing:

1.




[purchase]

Athens Alabama soul revival band features jubilant front woman Brittany Howard singing her heart out.

2.




[purchase]

From Portland, OR ( who isn't from Portland,OR?) comes Blouse with the song I listened to most this year.
Reminds me of something I might have played between a Jesus and Mary Chain track and something by Memphis-era Dusty Springfield on my college radio station in the mid-80's.

3.




[purchase]

Australian hook-makers that make music you'll want to listen to for sheer pleasure. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

4.




[purchase]

From Portland OR ( Who isn't?) comes The Decemberists with an album featuring cuts that wouldn't have sounded out of place on R.E.M's Life's Rich Pageant or Document, in part because Seattle holdout Peter Buck plays on them.

5.





[purchase]

From Finland comes our fave chill out album of 2011. Atmospheric, dreamy pop.

6.





[purchase]

You could spend every minute of Kaputt playing spot the influence ( Fleetwood Mac, Al Stewart, America...) or you could just settle back and enjoy one of the best albums of the year.

7.






[purchase]

Seattle's Fleet Foxes expand the sound and ideas from their 2008 breakthrough on this  lush sophomore album.

8.





[purchase]

It doesn't get any catchier than this return to form for the Swedish band that came out of nowhere in 2006 with the whistle-along anthem "Young Folks".

9.






[purchase]

With apologies to the members of Hootie and the Blowfish, Chaz Bundick has to be the hippest South Carolina Gamecock to ever emerge in the music scene.  Innovative and positively grooving.

10.





[purchase]

From Portland OR (again) comes Wild Flag featuring ex members of Sleater-Kinney, Quasi and The Minders. They rock.

I'm pretty sure I was able to find all these tracks via Hype Machine so I don't feel too bad about posting them here.
Other great albums from 2011:

HM: Paul Simon's So Beautiful Or So What , Washed Out -Within And Without, Radiohead- King of Limbs, Dawes-Nothing Is Wrong, Black Keys- El Camino, Wye Oak-Civilian, The Feelies - Here Before, & Wilco - The Whole Love.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation: Dave And Ansell Collins to The dB's





1. With their UK #1 single " Double Barrel", Dave and Ansell Collins brings reggae to the masses in 1971. This is the first record a 14 year old drummer named Sly Dunbar ever plays on.




2. The following year Sly teams up with bassist Robbie Shakespeare. Sly And Robbie become one of the most sought after rhythm sections in the world. They play with, or produce, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and reggae greats like Peter Tosh and Black Uhuru. In 1981 they back up Grace Jones on her club hit "Pull Up To The Bumper", the single from her album Nightclubbing.




3. The title track  is a cover of the 1977 Iggy Pop/David Bowie tune which appears on Iggy's album The Idiot.





4. In 1994 Trent Reznor samples the kick drum sound from "Nightclubbing" for his disturbing hit "Closer". The video is directed by Mark Romanek who has won 19 MTV Music Video Awards.


5.The following year Romanek directs the video for R.E.M.'s "Strange Currencies" which, for some reason, can't be found on YouTube. This is the third single from Monster, produced by Scott Litt ( who produced the Katrina and the Waves hit "Walking On Sunshine" as well as the final Replacements album All Fall Down).





6. Litt made his debut as a producer on The dB's 1982 album Repercussion, which is best known for the cut "Amplifier". So we're going to dig a little deeper into this terrific album and post "We Were Happy There".

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Was A College Radio DJ In The 80's: Rage to Live - Enough Is Never Enough




Yet another band from Hoboken, the New Jersey city that gave us The Bongos, The dBs, The Feelies and Frank Sinatra, Rage to Live dropped its first album in 1986 ( well before anyone in the music biz used that annoying phrase "dropped"). The band was made up of  ex-Necessaries guitarist Ed Tomney and ex-Individuals member Glenn Morrow.  They played well crafted edgy power pop."Enough is Never Enough" even made MTV's 120 Minutes playlist.

 Their debut was the first album released on Morrow's Bar/None label. When the second album did nothing to lift the band's fortunes, Glenn became full time owner of Bar/None and signed a few artists you've heard of: 10,000 Maniacs, Alex Chilton, The Feelies, Freedy Johnston, Yo La Tengo and They Might Be Giants among many others.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Annie Lennox: All Time Top Ten Fave Songs


As told to Smash Hits Magazine for their December 13-26, 1979 issue ( via Like Punk Never Happened ) At the time Annie was a member of the Tourists and promoting their second of three albums. She and fellow Tourist Dave Stewart formed the Eurythmics in 1980 after the third album stalled



1.Marvin Gaye: Heard It Through the Grapevine - If ever I had to pick my favourite single of all time, this would be it.
2. David Bowie: Fame - Inspired, brilliant - luv it!
3. The Beatles: I Am The Walrus - Of all the Beatle toons, this has to be the one for me. A beautiful conglomeration of psychedelia.
4.  Sam The Sham And The Pharohs: Woolly Bully - Let's dance!
5. Dusty Springfield: I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself - This is shivers up the spine music
6. The Kinks: You Really Got Me - One of the best bands ever.
7. Otis Redding: Dock of the Bay - When I'm feeling down this is great to listen to.
8. Martha And The Vandellas: Dancing In The Street - Get on your feet to this classic. What a voice! What a song!
9. Stevie Wonder: Living For The City - This has to be one of the seven wonders of the world
10. The Beach Boys: Good Vibrations - I couldn't forget The Beach Boys and all those sound vibrations.


1001Songs Fave Tourists tune is "So Good To Be Back Home Again". Did Annie's get up inspire Lady Gaga?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

40 Year Anniversary of Frank Zappa's Worst Week ...Ever


DECEMBER 4, 1971 MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND - In the middle of Don Preston's synthesizer solo on "King Kong", someone in the Montreux Casino audience decided to shoot off a flare gun into the rattan covered ceiling. And so Frank Zappa's worst week began.
Frank told the story like this:

There were between twenty-five hundred and three thousand kids packed into the room- well over capacity. Since more kids were outside, trying to get in, the organizers had cleverly chained the doors shut. When the fire began, the audience was left with two ways out: through the front door, which was pretty small, or through a plate-glass window off to the side of the stage.

I made an announcement- something like: "Please be calm. We have to leave here. There is a fire and why don't we get out?" You'd be surprised how well people who speak only French can understand you when its a matter of life and death. They began filing out through the front door.



As the room was filling with smoke, one of our roadies took an equipment case and smashed the big window. The crew then began helping people to escape through it into some kind of garden place below. The band escaped through an underground tunnel that led from behind the stage through the parking garage.






A few minutes later the heating system in the building exploded, and Some people were blown through the window. Fortunately, nobody was killed and there were only a few minor injuries- however, the entire building, about thirteen million dollars' worth, burned to the ground, and we lost all our equipment.




From across Lake Geneva, members of Deep Purple watched the fire. Together they wrote their most famous song,"Smoke On the Water".




They burned down the gambling house/ 
It died with an awful sound/
Funky Claude (Nobs--director of the Montreux Jazz Fest) was running in and out/
pulling kids out the ground

On the live album version of "Smoke on the Water", Deep Purple's Ian Gillan yells "Break a leg, Frank". It's not really that funny a line.

DECEMBER 10, 1971 LONDON, ENGLAND - That's because six days later, a deranged member of London's Rainbow Theatre audience attacked Zappa on stage. In the melee, Zappa fell ( or was pushed) off the stage:



"The band thought I was dead." Zappa wrote  in The Real Frank Zappa Book. "I had fallen fifteen feet down into a concrete-floored orchestra pit, my head was over on my shoulder and my neck was bent like it was broken. I had a gash in my chin, a hole in the back of my head, a broken rib and a fractured leg. One arm was paralyzed."

Howard Kaylan of Zappa vocalists Flo and Eddie writes about the night in his brilliant memoir Shell Shocked:

We had already taken our group bow and I was happily leaving the stage, feeling fulfilled and exonerated. As I reached the wings, I heard the audience suddenly stop applauding and gasp as one. There was a shocked silence in the Rainbow. I ran back to the stage, but I couldn't see anybody. Band and roadies were standing on the apron at the edge of the platform and gazing down into the darkness of the orchestra pit below. I ran over to see what the lack of commotion was all about. It sure didn't sound good.  

   There, at the bottom of the pit, lay Frank Zappa. He was unconscious and silent, his twisted body fallen below in the shape of some anatomical swastika. His arms and legs were bent at bizarre angles and I couldn't tell if he was breathing or not. Humans aren't supposed to bend like that. There was no reason to believe that Frank Zappa was still alive. 

This had been a very deliberate act. It seems that an audience member named Trevor Howell, who was very, very high indeed either a) didn't feel as if he had gotten his money's worth or b), more likely, was responding to his girlfriend articulating her crush on Frank at the end of the concert. For whatever reason, this maniac jumped onto the stage just as Frank, his back to the audience, was placing his guitar in its stand. He pushed Frank in such a way that he first hit his head on the wall of the orchestra pit before falling to its bottom. We all thought Frank was dead.
Howell tried to get away, but the audience restrained him and brought him to the front of the theater. Here, official accounts vary. But I was there, and I know. Before Howell was delivered to the local authorities, Herb Cohen personally beat the shit out of him. Newspaper stories through out the years have attributed this beating to angry roadies, but in fact, it was Cousin Herb who took control of an out-of-control situation. We were ushered out of the theater and back to the hotel before anyone with authority could tell us anything. Sure, why tell the band anyway?"-




As a result the rest of the Winter European tour was cancelled. Zappa spent most of 1972 in a wheelchair and endured chronic back pain for the rest of his life. The fall also crushed Zappa's larynx which is how he came to acquire that mysterious deep singing voice. The next several albums, Waka Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo,  would feature a jazz fusion sound but almost no vocals at all.

Here's Zappa and the band performing at The Roxy in 1973



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

40 Years Ago Today: First Wings Album Released




[purchase]

Wild Life is largely high on sentiment but rather flaccid musically and impotent lyrically, trivial and unaffecting.
John Mendelsohn, Rolling Stone


Perhaps Paul McCartney's most critically maligned album, Wild Life ( released December 7, 1971)  deserves to be heard at least once. Yes, it is Lo Fi and many of the songs seem to have been written in 5 minutes or less but that's part of the charm. It feels spontaneous and innocent ( thanks to the frankly unskilled presence of Linda) and even sloppy in places. Well, it was recorded in two weeks. But give a listen and you'll find some fine moments among the filigree.

Wings ( made up of Paul, Linda, Ex-Moody Blues singer and guitarist Denny Lane and Ram drummer Denny Seiwell) was McCartney's attempt at putting together a band that could play live.



The first track, "Mumbo", rocks as hard as anything McCartney has done since "Helter Skelter". Those aren't words he's singing by the way. McCartney--who created such beautiful lyrics for "Yesterday" and "Here, There and Everywhere" -- is phonetically tossing out "word-sounds". The reason: "Mumbo" is being made up on the spot. ( More than half the cuts on Wild Life are first takes, by the way.)



The lyrics may be silly at best but "Bip Bop" is a hypnotic bit of backwater boogie. The song infuriated critics. George Harrison is reported to have cried out "C'mon Paul! We know you can do better than that!" But in a re-evaluation in which they named Wild Life one the greatest albums of all time, Mojo Magazine called the song "absurdly hypnotic".



Now we're getting in some trouble. This reggae-treated Mickey and Sylvia cover was originally going to be the single. That didn't happen.( Phew!) In fact Paul simply doesn't talk about this album. Referring to Wild Life, Linda simply said: "We could have done it better."



The nearly 7 minute title cut ends side one. Linda's backing vox sound multi-tracked. I believe we may be entering new ground for McCartney: "filler". That said, I assume I'll be hearing from some fans who will tell me  that this is their fave cut. McCartney dug out "Wild Life" on tour every so often.

SIDE TWO









Side Two offers some love songs beginning with "Some People Never Know". Judging by the number of covers one can find on YouTube, I guess this a fan favorite. It's probably for Linda.



God bless Linda. Paul's soul mate has to sing some solo lines on a cut that sounds like a 1963 Beatles throw-away. But what do you know? A Hit Parader critic called this the best song on the album. And I'm sure a few readers will say this is their fave.

>

One of Paul's most overlooked gems. Mojo Magazine says "Tomorrow" could have had a place in the Abbey Road medley. I believe this cut got the most radio plays when the album originally came out.



"Dear Friend" is seen as an attempt at reconciliation with John. After the break up Paul struck in song with the Ram cut "Too Many People" ("that was your first mistake/you took your lucky break and broke it into two") Lennon retorted in "How Do You Sleep?" ("The only thing you done was yesterday/And since you're gone you're just another day") In "Dear Friend" Paul is offering the peace pipe.



The first CD version offers three non-LP cuts including "Oh Woman Oh Why", the B side to the previously mentioned "Another Day". This isn't a Wings cut. McCartney plays all the instruments. That's why it really should be an extra cut on Ram ( which is this writer's fave Macca album).


Following the backlash, McCartney hired ex Spooky Tooth guitarist Henry McCullough and toured UK college towns where they played impromptu concerts. Then he did some other stuff.