Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pink Floyd's Meddle Turns 40

Pink Floyd's sixth album, Meddle, may be the best of that English art rock band's lesser known era, between Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Dark Side of the Moon. Recording began in 1970. After nights of fruitless experimentation, bottle of wine and some finely rolled joints, Floyd's keyboardist Richard Wright accidentally found a way to make a submarine-like "ping". The rest of the band fell in and the result is Side Two's "Echoes".
Meddle was a total band effort. Every member contributed lyrics...even the fifth Floyd, "Seamus", Steve Marriot's dog. Despite mostly positive critical reviews, Meddle was not the break though Floyd album. That would come two years later with Dark Side. Maybe poor sales can be blamed on  the album cover, supposedly it's an ear underwater. But as graphic designer Storm Thorgerson admitted  "Meddle is a much better album than its cover."


The album beings with a menacing 6 minute instrumental, "One of These Days"  featuring Roger Waters's double tracked bass. Nick Mason can be heard saying "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces." For the Japanese release the title was more evocative: "Blow, Wind! Call Forth, Storm!"

"A Pillow of Winds" is a sweet acoustic love song. You know, like Pink Floyd always used to make.

"Fearless" is Floyd's football tune. The actual word refers to an awesome soccer player's play. And you can hear Liverpool FC fans chanting "You'll Never Walk Alone" in the background. This is 1001Songs fave cut.

Roger Waters wrote "San Tropez", a jazzy little number. Floyd played a gig in this sunny town on the French Riviera in 1971. It really is the kind of place where people drink champagne like big tycoons.

"Seamus" is a mercifully short blues number starring the howling blues of Steve Marriot's dog. For the live version recorded at Pompeii, the band borrowed a Russian Wolfhound named Nobs. When critics say Pink Floyd had a lot of ideas --good and bad--and used them all, this might be an example.

And finally there is the Side Two's 23 and a half minute epic "Echoes"( which only makes it the third longest Floyd song ever recorded by the way).
   The signature theme appears to have been "borrowed" by Andrew Lloyd Webber for his musical Phantom of the Opera.
Roger Waters told Q Magazine: "Yeah, the beginning of that bloody Phantom song is from "Echoes" DAAAAA- da da da da da. I couldn't believe it when I heard it. It's the same time signature--its 12/8--and it's the same structure and it's the same note and it's the same everything. Bastard. It's probably actionable. It really is!But I think that life's too long (sic?) to bother with suing Andrew fucking Loyd Webber."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

40 years ago today: Duane Allman killed

Just months after the release of the live At Fillmore East album, slide guitarist extraordinaire Duane Allman, 24, was killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia.
    He was speeding on a flat stretch of road 40 years ago today when a flatbed truck began making a left hand turn in front of him. For some reason the truck stopped mid-turn, blocking the entire lane. Duane tried to finesse his way past the truck but didn't make it. The impact sent Duane flying off the bike. His helmet was sent spinning. The bike landed on Duane. Its motor still revving.
   Duane looked OK. Just some scratches. But he suffered massive internal injuries and died three hours later in surgery.
 Almost exactly a year later Allman Brothers bassist Berry Oakley died when his motorcycle crashed into a bus.
The essential Duane Allman can be heard not just on the first Allman Brothers recordings but on Derek and The Domino's Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs and on R&B tracks like Wilson Pickett's cover of "Hey Jude". That's the cut that drew Clapton's interest:

I remember hearing Wilson Pickett's "Hey Jude" and just being astounded by the lead break at the end. I had to know who that was immediately--right now."
-Eric Clapton

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Little Monsters Pick Their Favorite Halloween Tunes

After last year's relatively tame costumes, our cat plans to become a corpse bride and our superhero an escaped zombie convict. The guy in the middle isn't talking because he just a bunch of bags filled with leaves. The kids are now 9 and 6 so Halloween is a big deal. So big the kids chose the songs for this post.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

George Harrison : Speed Freak

Although better known for embracing the cultures of India and Hindu, George Harrison was also an avid fan of Formula One racing. Especially after he befriended three time World Champion Jackie Stewart, who inspired the 1979 single "Faster" and even appeared as the chauffeur for the video.

It's fascinating when you know the drivers and the teams and all their problems, and you can see them as people.
Because they are just people, but to go to work they have to get in this car and do 180 miles an hour.
-George Harrison

In the Olivia Harrison book George Harrison Living In The Material World [ purchase], Damon Hill--a Formula One World Champion who also formed a punk band called Sex, Hitler And The Hormones--says he once told George his biggest dream was to go on a rocket and blast off into outer space. George replied "No, man. Inner space, not outer space."

George owned a rare McLaren F1. They take three months to build. His was painted purple. 630 horsepower ( my Honda Civic as 140) No power brakes, no power steering, no traction control. George loved the car and he loved the noise it made.

It looked something like this.

Jackie said Formula One Racers and great guitarists are both artists who often live on the edge. For whatever reason, George made friends with all kinds of champion drivers. Here's George being interviewed by his friend Jackie at the 1986 Australian Grand Prix.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

#47 Neil Young - Vampire Blues (1974)


Could Neil Young have predicted the vampire craze caused by the God-awful Twilight series and HBO's True Blood? Actually this tune from 1974's On The Beach isn't about fangers. It's about the original oil crisis. The same one that inspired Tower of Power's "Only So Much Oil In The Ground" and John Denver to build huge underground tanks on his property outside Aspen.

         I'm a vampire baby suckin blood from the earth/
         well I'm a vampire babe, sell you twenty barrels worth.

OK. To be fair, Denver was hoarding gas for the Aspen Summer Camp buses that brought underprivileged kids to his fair mountain town. But this post is about Neil. Vintage Whine indeed!

Monday, October 24, 2011

John Peel Picks His All Time Top Ten Songs

Celebrating John Peel Day with a list he made for Smash Hits Magazine which appeared in the August 20- September 2, 1981 issue, via Like Punk Never Happened .

1.Duane Eddy: Peter Gunn Theme - This is the perfect instrumental
2. The Undertones: Teenage Kicks - In my job I'm always searching for the perfect single and this must come the nearest. My all-time fave.
3. Gene Vincent: Race With the Devil - I often think far too much attention is paid to lyrics. I like this one because the lyrics are unintelligible.
4. The Birthday Party: Release the Bats
5. The Specials: Ghost Town - Definitely the best number one for years and years and years.
6. Andy Capp: Pop-A-Top - This was one of the first Jamaican records to be played on the radio and it is terrific. My wife and I go round the house singing to this, in so far as that's possible to do!
7. The Fall: How I Wrote Elastic Man - I like The Fall very much and love going to see them every chance I get.
8. Linda Jones: Your Precious Love - This song is both terribly sad and angry at the same time (also sad because the singer is now dead). Just been re-issued.
9. Lee Perry: Baffling Smoke Signal - Lee made the best reggae records ever.
10. Bill Doggett: Honky Tonk - Very sexy. P.S. If you ask me again tomorrow, it'll probably be all different.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

George Harrison's "Dirty" Secret

I'm reading Olivia Harrison's intimate photo-heavy biography George Harrison Living in the Material World [purchase ] backwards so I've been immediately struck by how much the ex-Beatle loved spending time gardening. There's this quote that leads off the final chapter "Fresh Air":

Sometimes I feel like I'm actually on the wrong planet, and it's great when I'm in my garden, but the minute I go out the gate I think "What the hell am I doing here?"

His son Dhani says until he was seven he only saw his dad "in jeans, khakis, covered in dirt just continuously planting trees."

Harrison had a 63 acre estate on Maui where he shot the "This Is Love" video in 1987.

He also had a home off the coast of Australia. But, of course his best known crash pad was Friar Park aka "Crackerbox Palace", a huge 120 room Victorian neo-Gothic mansion that came with 35 acres purchased when George was 27.

Olivia told Radio Times her husband "never felt more at peace than when he was gardening. He loved the gardens( at Friar Park)and always said you felt closest to God when you were in the garden."

(It was, after all, in Eric Clapton's garden that George wrote "Here Comes the Sun".)

Friar Park was previously owned by an eccentric millionaire named Sir Frank Crisp. George's sister-in-law Irene says George would point out trees amazed that Crisp planted them as saplings knowing he'd never see them as a stand of trees. That's how George planned his own gardens,she said, doing the best he could...even though he knew he'd never see the final results.

Harrison's Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp ( Let It Roll) is one our fave cuts on All Things Must Pass.

Years after George passed away from lung cancer, his friend Neil Innes (Bonzo Dog Band, Rutles) and wife Yvonne designed a garden in tribute to George for the Chelsea Flower Show. For Neil's designs and memories click here .

A Taste for the Exotica

An exotica-esque mash up from Messer Chups featuring guitarist Oleg Gitaracula, screamer and bassist Zombierella and Marvelous Boris Twang on drums.

Visit their MySpace page here .

Bonus shot of Zombierella:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Deep Cuts: Badfinger - Perfection (1971)

Highlighting a lesser known track from a classic album


Badfinger's third album, Straight Up, produced two Top 20 singles in the U.S. The group's highest charting single ever, "Day After Day", peaked at #4 while "Baby Blue" peaked at #14. The album also featured the radio-friendly 1001Songs favorite "I'd Die Babe".

But this post is about deep cuts, so we're featuring Track #11 "Perfection". In light of songwriter Pete Ham's suicide four years later, it is interesting to hear his thoughts on this gem:"Well it basically says that I think people have to -- before they try do anything about the world--  admit that they've got a lot of faults themselves. Admit that there is no real perfection. People get too obsessed with ideals. The perfect world or the perfect human being and there's no such thing. So all basically that song says is realize our imperfections and talk about them and then try and do something about it".

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Joan Armatrading Picks Her All-Time Top Ten Songs (1981)

As told to Smash Hits Magazine in the October 15-28, 1981 issue via Like Punk Never Happened

1. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - Tears of A Clown This must be one of the best songs written!
2. Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven One of my favourite bands. This track is just one of their classics
3. Adam and the Ants - Antmusic This is what I call Good fun music
4. Van Morrison - Madame George Anything by Van is good but this one is special as it's the very first thing I heard from him
5. Tubeway Army - Are "Friends" Electric It's very original.
6. John Martyn - May You Never This one's great!
7. Ike and Tina Turner - River Deep, Mountain High Another classic, this song will never grow old
8. Walker Brothers - No Regrets Written by Tom Rush and superbly sing by Scott Walker, this reminds me of my first US tour when I met Tom.
9. Frank Zappa - Sulphur No 1* This is genius ( It's OK to say that, isn't it?)
10. Tony Hancock Anything by this great comedian is brilliant!

*A reader points out the real name of the song is "Sofa No 1". Some insight, perhaps, on Joan's accent?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Suggs of Madness Picks His All-Time Top Ten Songs (1981)

As told to Smash Hits Magazine in the October 1-14, 1981 issue via Like Punk Never Happened

1. ( Ian Dury) Kilburn and the High Roads - Hufferty Pull This song reminds me very much of early gigs I went to
2. UB40 - Dream a Lie Good chaps and a good song
3. Cockney Rebel - Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)This is nostalgia
4. Julie London - Cry Me a River This one I like as it's got so much soul
5. Jimmy Cliff - She Does It To Me Right He's just smashing!
6. The Beatles - I'm Only Sleeping The Beatles are my favourite group
7. Robert Wyatt - Strange Fruit This one I like as it's so far out of tune - it's fantastic!
8. Psychedelic Furs - Dumb Waiters Love the song. Love the video
9. The Four Tops - Bernadette Songs, songs, songs
10. Clive Langer and the Boxers - Have a Nice Night This is unappreciated music by an unappreciated guy. It's so great, and like a poem

Friday, October 14, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation: Wire to The New Seekers


1. In 1977, art punkers Wire record an 83-second classic "Three Girl Rhumba" for  Pink Flag, one of the greatest rock albums of all-time according to everybody.


2 In 1994 Justine Frischman borrows the "Three Girl Rhumba" riff for "Connection", a Top 20 UK single from the self-titled Elastica, the fastest selling British debut album in history.


3 Before forming Elastica, Justine and her boyfriend Brett Anderson form Suede. They crack the UK Top 20 with "Metal Mickey" in 1992 thanks to the raucous guitar sounds of Bernard Butler, hailed by some critics as the greatest guitarist of his generation.


4. After Suede, Butler forms other bands, plays on other artists's records and produces The Libertines 2003 single  "Don't Look Back Into The Sun".In 2007 NME readers vote the song number 5 in a "Greatest Indie Anthems" poll.


5 Oasis's "Live Forever" wins that Indie Anthems poll. The single comes from the 1994 album Definitely Maybe. Other singles include "Supersonic", "Cigarettes and Alcohol" and the Top 20 UK hit "Shakermaker".


6. Because of "Shakermaker", Coca Cola sues Oasis for allegedly lifting words and melody from The New Seekers's "I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing" ( an adaptation of  Coke's "I'd Like to Buy The World A Coke" jingle). The band winds up paying Coke a lot of money ( $A500,000 according to Wikipedia). Noel Gallagher jokes "Now we drink Pepsi".

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#46 Bobby Womack - California Dreamin' (1968)


Bobby Womack wrote The Rolling Stones' first UK number one, "Its All Over Now" and co-wrote his own #1 R&B hit "Woman's Gotta Have It". But in 1968, he recorded this sublime cover of The Mamas and The Papas "California Dreamin'" for his debut album Fly Me To The Moon. I heard it just a month or so before I saw the disturbing 2009 British film Fish Tank, where the main character, a spunky chick named Mia, dances to it for an audition. One listen and you'll wonder where the sunshine went.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Video of the Week: Hoodoo Gurus - I Want You Back ( 1984)


In which Dave Faulkner is talked into wearing blue eye shadow and primping his hair like Robert Smith of The Cure. ("Nobody will even notice Dave. They'll all be looking at the singing dinosaurs.") Best power pop song of the 80's.

The Gurus are big faves of the kids, mine included. And not just because of this video --which does look like something out of an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! The Gurus even had a video ( for "Another World"  from Magnum Cum Louder) play in heavy rotation at Toys R Us stores in 1989.

The Gurus have their own website. (Who doesn't?)

Deep Cuts: Bob Seger - Come to Poppa


With Deep Cuts I highlight a lesser known song from a classic album you may think you know.

Bob Seger's 1976 platinum album Night Moves is best known for its brilliant title track, a Top 5 hit inspired by both Springsteen's "Jungleland" and a dark haired Italian girl he dated when he was 19. The album has two more singles,  "Mainstreet" (US #24/ Canada #1) and "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" ( US #41).  But there's a great Track 7 called "Come to Poppa", co-written by Al Green producer Willie Mitchell and Hi Records staff songwriter Eric Randle. "Come to Poppa" finds a mean groove and stays right there. Just one of the great tracks on an album I figured I'd never have to hear...until I did.

In '76, Rolling Stone Magazine's Kit Rachlis said "If there's any grace in heaven, Night Moves will give Bob Seger the national following which has long eluded him. It is simply one of the best albums of the year." Robert Christgau gave Night Moves an A- citing "lyrics as hard-hitting as the melodies".

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation: James Brown to The Grateful Dead


1. In 1973 James Brown records "Down and Out in New York City" among other funky tracks for the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Black Caesar. His backing vocalist, "funky soul siren" Lyn Collins, sings lead on another track, "Mama Soul".


2. A year earlier, Lyn Collins --nicknamed "The Female Preacher"--had a Top 10 hit composed by James Brown called "Think ( About It)". The part where JB shrieks "Yeah!Woo! " (heard over and over again  in the 1988 Rob Base &  DJ E-Z Rock hip hop hit "It Takes Two" ) is probably the most sampled section.


3. In fact De La Soul samples "Yeah!Woo" for "Jenifa Taught Me ( Derwin's Revenge)" for their 1989 debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising.


4. Another track sampled on "Jenifa" is the "hoo hoo hoos" from "Take the Money and Run", a Top 20 Single by the Steve Miller Band in 1976. (You know, the one you can sing "Sweet Home Alabama" to.) Steve Miller wrote all of his biggest hits except for one.


5. Steve Miller took this 1973 unreleased five minute jam from blind guitarist Paul Pena and condensed it into a Top Ten hit in 1977. One of music entrepreneur Albert Grossman's gross misdemeanors was preventing the release of Pena's brilliant second album New Train, which featured musical contributions from Steve Miller Band keyboardist Ben Sidran ( who turned Miller onto "Jet Airliner"), The Persuasions and Jerry Garcia.


6. That same year, 1973, Garcia's band The Grateful Dead release the first Dead album on their own label. Wake of the Flood features 1001Songs's favorite Dead song "Eyes of the World".

Friday, October 7, 2011

Odds And Sods: Astrud Gilberto -You Didn't Have To Be So Nice (1967)


With the weekly "Odds and Sods" posts, we look at some of rock and pop's oddest songs.

In the same way fathers are biologically wired to have their testosterone levels drop by as much as 50% after babies arrive, mothers must be wired to believe their children are waaaay more talented than they really are.
From an album selected in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, Astrud enlists her six year old son Marcello to help her sing the Lovin' Spoonful's "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice". Even Toots Thielemans on harmonica can not save this from being one of the most uncomfortably saccharine recordings in music history. Let's just say I'm not expecting the servers to be overwhelmed by this post.
However the rest of the album makes fine dinner music and Marcello did eventually become the bass player in her band. God, I hope she didn't call him up to the mic to sing this duet when he was fully gown.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

#45 Richard Barone and James Mastro - I've Got a Secret (1983)

Richard Barone and James Mastro :I've Got a Secret [purchase]

From a charming album in which Bongos leader Richard Barone wrote and sang lead on all songs on Side 1 and Bongos guitarist James Mastro took the lead on side 2. Side 1 sounds like a great lost Bongos album and this cut, especially, is an all time favorite of mine. But beware: it's one of those catchy ear worms you'll have playing inside your head for days to come.For the uninitiated The Bongos--along with The Feelies, Yo La Tengo and The Cucumbers --were one of the great Hoboken bands of the 80's and a big part of a power pop revival that made college radio so exciting that decade.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Video of the Week: Brian Eno "China My China" (1974)

 from Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)


Performing as Brian Eno's backing band are American artist and early punk rocker Judy "Back in Judy's Jungle" Nylon and former model/ singer Polly Eltes who sings on another Taking Tiger Mountain ( By Strategy) cut "Mother Whale Eyeless".

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What Kinks Song is playing in the new Toyota ad?


... in which Ray Davies makes his declaration of independence from the rest of the music industry:

Hush little baby don't you cry
Soon the sun is going to shine
We're going to be free like the birds and the bees
Running wild in the big country
Got to be free to do what I want
Walk if I want, talk if I want
Got to be free to say what I want
Make what I want and play what I want
As free as the birds up in the sky
As free as the bugs and the spiders and flies
I don't know how but I'm gonna try
I've just got to be free
And it won't be long 'cos we're right
And they are wrong
We've got to get out of this world somehow
We've got to be free, we've got to be free now
Got to be free to laugh when I want
Think what I want and cry if I like
Got to be free to do what I want
Say what I want and swear if I like
As free as the sun and the moon in the sky
As free as a flea or a proud butterfly
I don't know how but I'm gonna try
I've just got to be free
Yeah, we've got to get out of this world somehow
We've got to be free, we've got to be free now
Got to be free to do what I want
Walk if I want and talk if I want
Got to be free to say what I want
Make what I want and play what I want
I've got to be proud and stand up straight
And let people see I ain't nobody's slave
I've got to be free before it's too late
I've just got to be free
Got to be free to do what I want
Walk if I want, talk if I want

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Just A Blur: 10 Great Songs Under A Minute

Todd Rundgren: Remember Me from Runt:The Ballad of Todd Rundgren (1971)
Soft Machine: Thank You Pierre Lunaire from Volume Two (1969)
Mandrake Memorial: Just A Blur (Version One) from Puzzle (1969)
Paul McCartney: The Lovely Linda from McCartney (1970)
Sam Phillips: Love And Kisses from Martinis and Bikinis (1994)
Willie Nelson: Denver from Red Headed Stranger (1975)
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band: Kama Sutra from The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse (1968)
Wire: It's So Obvious from Pink Flag (1977)
Lo Borges: Pra Onde Vai Voce from Lo Borges (1972)
The Minutemen: Martin's Story  from Double Nickels On The Dime (1984)