Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Deep Cuts: Al Green - Ain't No Fun To Me (1972)

[Buy the Album]

When the President crooned a little "Let's Stay Together" earlier this month, sales of Al Green's best known song increased 490%, selling 16,000 downloads in the week ending January 22nd. Not a bad way to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Green's Let's Stay Together album, released January 31, 1972.

There are better Al Green albums ( Call Me, I'm Still In Love With You and Explores Your Mind are all better in my opinion) but Let's Stay Together has all the essential elements: there's the funky Willie Mitchell production featuring some of the best studio musicians in Memphis and there's Al Green himself. You get the sense he knows what he wants to say but hasn't written down a single lyric. He's got this incredible sense of timing and he'll stretch every line just right so it hits the pocket. Every performance is absolutely organic.

Our "deep track" is the last cut on Let's Stay Together, a churning blues number featuring Teeny Hodges on guitar.

Monday, January 30, 2012

40 Years Ago This Month: David Bowie Announces "I'm gay"

Why let being married and having a son get in the way of making a big splash?

In an interview for the January 22, 1972 issue of Melody Maker David Bowie told interviewer Michael Watts "I'm gay and always have been."

David's present image is to come on like a swishy queen, a gorgeously effeminate boy. He's as camp as a row of tents, with his limp hand and trolling vocabulary. "I'm gay," he says, "and always have been, even when I was David Jones." But there's a sly jollity about how he says it, a secret smile at the corners of his mouth. He knows that in these times it's permissible to act like a male tart, and that to shock and outrage, which pop has always striven to do throughout it's history, is a ballsbreaking process. And if he's not an outrage, he is, at the least, an amusement. The expression of his sexual ambivalence establishes a fascinating game: is he, or isn't he?
-Michael Watts, Melody Maker

If the gesture was meant to shock Bowie's waning career back to life, it worked. The press had a feeding frenzy and kids raced into the store to buy Hunky Dory. "Changes" hit the Billboard charts in the US and "Starman", released in April of '72, would go Top 10 in the UK. That summer Bowie would release Ziggy Stardust, a UK Top 5 album that still sits near the top of critics' lists of best all-time rock albums. And in September he'd release "John, I'm Only Dancing", a single with such homosexual overtones it was judged too risque for release in America.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Clockwork Creep Or How To Survive A Bombing At 33,000 Feet

On January 16, 1972 Serbian flight attendent Vesna Vulovic was on board JAT Flight 367, 33,000 feet high, when an explosion tore the plane apart. It took three minutes for the wreckage to hit the ground. She was found alive, but with serious injuries: a fractured skull, three broken vertebrae and two broken legs. Vesna was in a coma for 3 days. The first thing she did when she woke up to see the stunned faces of her parents was to ask for a cigarette.

“When I saw a newspaper and read what had happened, I nearly died from the shock,”

she told The New York Times.

She was the only survivor of 28 people aboard and remains the only person to survive a fall of that height without a parachute.

"...I was in the middle part of the plane. I was found with my head down and my colleague on top of me. One part of my body with my leg was in the plane and my head was out of the plane. A catering trolley was pinned against my spine and kept me in the plane. The man who found me, says I was very lucky. He was in the German Army as a medic during World War II. He knew how to treat me at the site of the accident."

A Serbian hero, she was awarded her Guinness Record title alongside Paul McCartney in 1985

In recent years, journalists have challenged the "bomb" theory, suggesting the plane was accidentally shot down by The Czech Air Force and had been attempting to land when it broke apart.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

40 Years Ago This Month: Nils Lofgren, Leo Kottke & Malo

[Buy It]

Nils Lofgren and band mates hit power pop perfection with the single "White Lies" but it only received heavy airplay in the Washington D.C. area. Even with an "A" rating from Robert Christagu, 1 +1 , released in January of 1972, did not sell. C'est dommage!  At 20, Lofgren had already played guitar and piano on After The Gold Rush and with Crazy Horse on their debut. After Grin broke up, years before touring worth Springsteen, Lofgren recorded a self-titled album in 1975 that will always stand out as a personal favorite.

BTW, I planned to post a song from this album. I know I used to have "Lost A Number" on a now-deceased IPod. In the digital age we can lose songs as easily as a sock in the dryer.

[Buy It]

Fingerpickin' guitarist Leo Kottke gets funky all by himself on this opening track from his January 1972 release Greenhouse, my introduction to this brilliant musician. "The Song of The Swamp", "Louise" and the buoyant "Spanish Entomologist" reveal the exuberant talent of this Athens GA native.

[Buy It]

Carlos Santana's brother Jorge was one of the guitarists in the 12-piece San Francisco band Malo. You'll hear more brass than on any Santana album, often used to great effect. "Suavecito", which has become something of an anthem for American Chicanos, hit the Top 20 in 1972. Maybe it's because I was growing up in Malo's hometown then, but this song transports me to a spot on the Marina Green beneath dozens of flying kites.

[Buy It]

Members of the Rolling Stones jamming with Ry Cooder may sound like a great way to spend your time and money but it's really nothing more than a curiosity.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Barracudas Pick Their Top 10 Fave Songs ( 1980)

Criminally ignored Brit power popsters/ surf revivalists  had scored a minor hit with "Summer Fun" when they provided this list to the September 18th, 1980  issue of Smash Hits. How cool that they showed so much love for The Sonics! Via Like Punk Never Happened .

1. The Sonics: Boss Hogg - Words can't describe the sub-human splendour of this song. Makes the Sex Pistols sound like The Carpenters.
2. Jan Berry: Universal Coward - The pits in right wing protest.
3. The Flamin' Groovies: Shake Some Action - The ultimate seventies single by the last true rock and roll band.
4. The Mousketeers: Schnitzelbond - A quality novelty hit.
5. P.F. Sloan: This Precious Time - Folk Rock genius Sloan's premier sob story.
6. The Beach Boys: I'm Bugged At My Old Man - Shows how bad a good group are at their best/worst.
7. The Ramones: I Want You Around - Joey sounds more like a sick sheep than ever.
8. The Byrds: Bells of Rhymney - A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
9. The Dictators: I Live for Cars and Girls - A group whose taste has no place in human affairs.
10. Annette Funicello/ Beach Boys: The Monkey's Uncle - A record of orang-utan proportions

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

40 Years Ago: Blue Oyster Cult, Jackson Browne and Solo Jerry Garcia

[Buy It]

Long Island hard rockers Blue Oyster Cult made their debut in January of 1972 with what Rolling Stone critic Lester Bangs called an "authentic boogie beast".  To sell the record, BOC went on one tour that made sense: opening for Alice Cooper ...and another that didn't: with Mahavishnu Orchestra.

[Buy It]

Though he was still in his early twenties when this album was released, Jackson Browne had already written songs for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Tom Rush and Linda Ronstadt and apparently had an affair with Nico, a woman ten years his senior. "Doctor My Eyes" was his highest charting single until 1982's "Somebody's Baby" from the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack.

[Buy It]

Deadheads did not have to settle for the Grateful Dead's mediocre Europe '72 album. The smart ones picked up Garcia ( released 40 years ago this month) featuring Jerry playing everything but drums. Garcia was a man who really knew how to play with himself. ( what?) This is a great record, with lyrics from Robert Hunter. No wonder several of the songs wound up in the Dead repertoire.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Deep Cuts: Aretha Franklin - Border Song ( Holy Moses) 1972

Soul music may have no better A-side in 1972 than Aretha Franklin's Grammy Award winning Young Gifted and Black, released 40 years ago this week. Side One includes the US Top 5 pop song "Daydreaming" , the Top 10  "Rock Steady" ( featuring cowbell from Dr John), and the Nina Simone-penned title track. A five star album in the first two versions of Rolling Stone Record Guide, it may have fallen from favor because Franklin's improvisation exercises clearly inspired the histrionics we've all had to endure from the likes of Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey.

The last track on the album takes the Elton John/Bernie Taupin song "Border Song" to church. The Sweet Inspirations- the same backing vocal group who sang on Aretha's Atlantic recordings-bhelp the Queen drench the tune in a gospel-soul. Then there's the exquisite guitar solo by the late Cornell DuPree. Finally, Aretha changes just one line, but to great effect, asking "Can we live in peace?" ( instead of "let us live in peace").

What a question for our times.

This was just part of Aretha's spiritual-journey-on-record that would lead , only six months later, to the masterpiece Amazing Grace, recorded with the Reverend James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Was A College Radio DJ In The 80's: Paul Chastain: Halo

[out of print]

Champaign Illinois romantic Paul Chastain refused to hide the R.E.M influences on his terrific 1985 EP "Halo", released a few years before he teamed up with drummer Ric Menck and went all power pop on us in Velvet Crush. The man who produced those early R.E.M. albums, Let's Active's Mitch Easter, got out from behind the board to sing and play on the tour for their second album, 1994's glorious Teenage Symphonies to God. Sadly, there's not much of a market for power pop anymore. The group broke up and the name "Velvet Crush" was adopted by a Dayton Ohio 80's cover band.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tom Robinson's All Time Top Ten (1979)

Tom Robinson photo courtesy of Crying All The Way To The Chip Shop

[Buy it Now]

As told to Smash Hits Magazine in 1979 via Like Punk Never Happened . At the time, The Tom Robinson Band's debut album Power In the Darkness was climbing up to #4 on the UK album charts. CD reissues of the album include two of their best known singles "2-4-6-8 Motorway" and "Glad To Be Gay".

1. U2 : I Will Follow - Forget the critical bullshit. Just go see them. Great on record, staggering live.
2. Richard and Linda Thompson : I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight - Possibly the finest album of English music recorded in the 70's. Timeless and compelling.
3. The Out : Who is Innocent? - Along with Clive Pig's "Sweet Sixteen", the most underrated mini classic of '79.
4. The Cure : Boys Don't Cry - It's not what they say, it's the way they say it.
5. The Clash: White Man in Hammersmith Palais - Barely dented the Top 100 while "Tommy Gun" soared into the hit parade. Is there no justice?
6. Echo and the Bunnymen: All That Jazz - See you at the barricades babe/ See you when the lights go low, Joe.
7. Coil : Alcoholstark/ Motor Industry - Two chilling sides by sadly defunct Northampton band. Search out and listen.
8. Peter Gabriel: I Don't Remember - a personal favourite from a favourite person.
9. XTC: Roads Girdle The World - Ever since "Drums and Wires" I've been an avid fan.
10. The Teardrop Explodes: Treason - Once a good band becomes too popular ( i.e. Teardrop Explodes, Joy Division, Specials,  Police), it suddenly becomes uncool to admit you like them. Me, I love 'em all.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

40 Years Ago: Bread Rocks Out...Kind Of

[Buy It Now]

They were the sultans of soft rock schmaltz. Bread sent hearts aflutter with love ballads like the title track of their fourth album, released 40 years ago this month. And there was "Make It With You", "It Don't Matter To Me", "Lost Without Your Love" and that most conditional of songs "If" (covered by such bad asses as Percy Faith, Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra).

Baby I'm-A Want You opened with the surprisingly rocking single "Mother Freedom", a crunchy guitar sound songwriter David Gates referred to as "Bread Zeppelin". It's just one of the great songs on the album. "Down On My Knees" is top-notch pop and "Everything I Own" just might be the best song Bread ever recorded. For those with heart conditions brought on by snare drums, there's "Diary". Because buying a Greatest Hits album is a sensible but cowardly way out, Baby I'm-A Want You might just be the best way to re-introduce yourself to Bread, the best thing since sliced ...schmaltz!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If SOPA Becomes Law Here's What 1001Songs Will Look Like

The 1001Songs Singers: Baby I Got Abba

[not available for purchase]

Remember the days before Congress passed SOPA, The Stop Online Piracy Act ?  We could post songs for a week or two and turn people onto artists the rest of the world had forgotten or never even heard of. Well, now with Internet censors watching so closely, all I dare post are my own songs.
Like this tribute to ABBA I wrote way back in the early 90's.

I saw my best female friend get married and realized we'd no longer be able to do the same things we used to do, including listening to ABBA on car trips. So I knocked out this tune. Plucked it out of the ether as Paul McCartney would say. I made a video of the demo version,which can be seen above unless censors have pulled it because of copy written photos. Years later, I recorded another version with friends in a Seattle studio. In 1999, as part of The Rocket's annual "Demo Derby" one of their critics likened our sound to The Kinks and cited the lyric "Frida and Agnetha /Dance like Swedish whores" as a personal fave. It helped that I enclosed a coupon for a free coffee with the CD.

Speaking of coffee in my next post I'll discuss "Venus In a Coffee Shop" another song you've never heard of and probably won't like. Or you could let your U. S. Representative know the internet doesn't belong to a few media corporations. They had their chance to tell you what to think. Now it's your turn to think for yourself.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Six Degrees: Garland Jeffreys To Drive By Truckers

[Buy it]

1. Before Garland Jeffreys recorded the anthemic "Wild In The Streets" in 1973 (it would finally appear on the 1977 album Ghost Writer), he played guitar on John Cale's first solo album, 1969's Vintage Violence.

[Buy It]

2. The bass player on this album which Cale himself thought was too simplistic was Harvey Brooks who also played on Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, The Doors' Soft Parade and arranged Karen Dalton's 1971 album In My Own Time.

[Buy It]

3. Among the songs Dalton recorded was this George Jones/Leon Payne number "Take Me" which Jones had recorded on his 1966 album Love Bug.

[Buy It]

4. Though his duets with wife Tammy Wynette are better remembered, Jones also recorded duets with Melba Montgomery, who was raised in Florence Alabama ( the same hometown as Sam Phillips and W.C. Handy) , one of the Quad Cities along with Muscle Shoals.

[Buy It]

5. Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is home to some notable recordings including The Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" and "Wild Horses", much of  Paul Simon's There Goes Rhymin' Simon, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Street Survivors and Millie Jackson's Caught Up, recorded in 1974, with the studio house band known as The Swampers.

[Buy It]

6. David Hood, the bass player for The Swampers, recorded with Traffic, Cat Stevens and Bob Seger. His son Patterson is the frontman for Drive By Truckers. This song , from the 2011 album Go Go Boots, was written by Eddie Hinton who also wrote Dusty Springfield's "Breakfast in Bed".

Patterson Hood

Monday, January 16, 2012

40 Years Ago This Month: Italian Prog Rockers PFM Release Debut

[Buy It]

      Italian progressive rockers Premiata Forneria Marconi - the name means Award-Winning Macaroni Bakery--released their first album Storia Di Un Minuta in January of 1972 and immediately topped the Italian album charts. Inspired by British prog bands like Genesis, King Crimson and Moody Blues, PFM blended Classic rock with Classical music, adding dashes of Mediterranean flavouring and ethereal vocals. The debut and its follow-up, Per Un Amico, are both albums of great taste and beauty. PFM began singing English lyrics by the third album which made the Billboard album charts. One of prog rock's great bands.

Friday, January 13, 2012

40 Years Ago This Week: Paul Simon's First Solo Album

[Buy It Now]

As great a year in music as 1972 was, only three albums received an A+ rating from Robert Christgau, the Dean of Rock Critics: Exile On Main Street, Manfred Mann's Earth Band ( more on this exceptional album in February) and Paul Simon's first solo album since the break-up with Art Garfunkel.

Simon told music journalist Stuart Grundy a lot was riding on the album.

It was dangerous again, to a certain degree, to go and start all over again as just me. I was nervous . . . it's good to be nervous. After all those years of automatic success, you don't get nervous any more. It's really necessary to be nervous and be a little bit frightened

The album opens with the reggae-ish "Mother And Child Reunion", recorded in Kingston Jamaica with, among others, two members of The Maytals. The title comes from a Chinese dish featuring boiled eggs and chicken. The lyrics--written after the band lay down the tracks--is explained by Simon in a 1972 Rolling Stone interview with Jon Landau

Last summer we had a dog that was run over and killed, and we loved this dog. It was the first death I had ever experienced personally. Nobody in my family died that I felt that. But I felt this loss--one minute there, next minute gone, and then my first thought was, "Oh, man, what if that was Peggy? What if somebody like that died? Death, what is it, I can't get it." And there were lyrics straight out forward like that. "I can't for the life of me remember a sadder day. I just can't believe it's so." Those are the lyrics. The chorus for "Mother and Child Reunion"--well, that's out of the title. Somehow there was a connection between this death and Peggy, and it was like heaven, I don't know what the connection was. Some emotional connection. It didn't matter to me what it was. I just knew it was there

Next comes "Duncan" with the "El Condor Pasa" reminiscent flutes played by the same Andean group Los Incas. (The version above comes from Live Rhymin' and was also one of the tracks on Greatest Hits Etc.)

The entire album could be a textbook for intimate songwriting and may provide some insight into Simon's marriage to his first wife Peggy. The next three songs are "Everything Put Together Falls Apart, "Run That Body Down" ( which can be heard above) and "Armistice Day".
Of "Run That Body Down", a tune that predicts the nation's health craze, Simon told Landau:

Musically it derives from a Bach prelude I was playing, and lyrically it makes it for me because I like the idea of a song about taking care of your health. I was reading a lot of Adelle Davis at the time

Side Two begins with "Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard", a song that had the whole world asking "What was it that the mama saw these two boys doing?" Simon told Landau:

Something sexual is what I imagine, but when I say "something," I never bothered to figure out what it was. Didn't make any difference to me. First of all, I think it's funny to sing--"Me and Julio." It's very funny to me. And when I started to sing "Me and Julio," I started to laugh, and that's when I decided to make the song called "Me and Julio"; otherwise I wouldn't have made it that. I like the line about the radical priest. I think that's funny to have in a song.

The video, which begins with an introduction by Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie, was made in 1988.

Of the next song, "Peace Like a River", Simon tells Landau :

It's a serious song, although it's not as down as you think. The last verse is sort of nothing; it sort of puts the thing back up in the air, which is where it should be. You end up, you think about these things that are something to do with a riot, or something in my mind in the city.

As with "Mother And Child Reunion" and "Duncan" Simon finished up the lyrics to "Peace Like A River" after the tracks were laid down.

"Papa Hobo" is next, a satirical put down of a basketball town in the Midwest.

"Hobo's Blues" is 80 seconds of Simon jamming with violinist Stephane Grappelli who found fame performing in Parisian nightclubs with Django Reinhardt.

"Paranoia Blues" follows. A study in lyrical story telling from a songwriter who taught his craft at NYU.

Among his students: Maggie and Terre Roche ( who would provide backing vocals on 1973's There Goes Rhymin' Simon before forming The Roches with sister Suzzy) and Melissa Manchester who told Crawdaddy's Timothy White:

One of the most fun things he used to do was tell us stories about all his hassles and paranoias as a successful songwriter and the silly things he'd done. He told us about the first time he ever met Bob Dylan. He said he went over to his house all excited, and the place was a total mess, with junk all over and wrinkled old scraps of paper covering the floors. Dylan kept walking around the room talking and thinking out loud. Paul followed, picking up every loose scrap of paper he could find--anything with words on it--and stuffing them in his pockets. He said he was dying to find out how Dylan did it.

"Congratulations" is the final cut. Another song that shows some wear and tear on a relationship.

I remember seeing Simon tell a late night TV interviewer that his songs typically began with an inspired first line. For his 1972 chord book Simon expands:

Once I pick a key and start to play, I sing any words that come into my head without trying to make any sense out of them. I tend to sing easy words with a concentration on "oos" and "ah" sounds, which are musically pleasing to me. I also like words beginning with "g's" and "l's" and words that have "t's" and "k's" in them. Sometimes during this stream of consciousness singing, a phrase will develop that has a naturalness and a meaning, in which case I keep it and start to build a song around it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

50 Years Ago Today: Howlin Wolf Releases Rockin Chair

At 6 foot 6, "300 pounds of muscle and man" , Howlin' Wolf was literally a giant in the Chicago blues scene. But his recording career didn't begin until the age of forty-one. He worked as a farmer, a fertlizer salesman and as a disc jockey.

Fifty years ago on this day he released his most influential album, Howlin' Wolf ( also known as the Rockin Chair album for its cover). Famous songs--most written by Willie Dixon-- include "Little Red Rooster", "Wang Dang Doodle", "Back Door Man" and the Wolf's version of "Spoonful". This is one of the albums all the skinny British blues fanatics studied. In fact just about every British blues band had a Howlin Wolf song in the repertoire. The Stones covered "Little Red Rooster". The Yardbirds, Manfred Mann and The Animals did "Smokestack Lightnin". Cream covered "Spoonful". You get the idea. The album comes as part of a two-fer with Wolf's first LP, Moanin' in the Moonlight, recorded by Sam Phillips.
In 1964, Howlin' Wolf toured Europe as part of the American Folk Blues Festival. Below, one of the performances in England. Little Hubert Sumlin is playing lead guitar. Sunnyland Slim is on piano. Willie Dixon is playing bass and Clifton James on drums.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ian Dury Picks His 12 All Time Faves (1979)

As told to Smash Hits October 18 1979 via Like Punk Never Happened. His #1 UK hit, "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick", would be voted the best single of 1979 in the Pazz and Jop poll of music critics taken by The Village Voice.

1.Millie Small: What Am I Living For? - Terrible record but it's a magic song by Chuck Willis
2. Dean Martin: That's Amore - Because I think Dean Martin's really great in a way.
3. J.J. Zackerley: Dinner With Drac - He was a DJ in America who made one record. Good words, great sax solo.
4. Billy Fury: Jealousy - The best singer that England's ever seen. My ambition has been to write enough songs so that Billy Fury can do an album called "Fury Sings Dury".
5. Kay Starr: Rock and Roll Waltz - One of the few bits in three four time that I like.
6. Groovy Joe Poovey: Ten Long Fingers and Eighty-Eight Keys - Wonderful old rock and roll record.
7. Minnie Ripperton: Lovin' You - Beautiful record, specially now that the poor girl's gone.
8. Gene Vincent: Hot Rod Gang EP - The best four songs he ever did.
9. Merle Haggard: Okie from Muskogee
10. Wilson Pickett: In the Midnight Hour
11. Adriana Celentano - Anything, preferably something in Italian
12. Roger Collins: Oh, You Sexy Thing - He's a local soul singer from San Francisco. The inventor of the short sleeved suit.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

RIP Tom Ardolino of NRBQ

We lost a great member of The Ravioli Rhythm section this weekend: drummer Tom Ardolino,56 ,  of NRBQ.
A fan of the band, Ardolino was at a show when original drummer Tom Staley got ill and left before the band could perform an encore. He spoke to Mike Skully, who made a documentary for A&E's "Breakfast With the Arts":

I told them I played drums but I never was in a band before. I learned to play with records in the basement.

Bassist Joey Spaminato continues the story:

And Terry just pointed to Tom and said "Get on." He came up and he just laid it down.


Al (Anderson), the guitarist then, turned around. He thought it was the old regular drummer.


So when it came time to try out for drummers in our band, he was the first one who came to mind.I said "It might be crazy. We don't know if he can play all the styles of music that we play. We know that he likes it and we know that he's smart. But we've got to give him a shot"

Tom played on 15  NRBQ  records and in thousands of shows from 1974 to 1993* ( actually 2004), endearing audiences with his rare turns on the mic to sing "Volare".

photo by Merritt Brown

Al Anderson said "He was a great drummer and a great guy.He had a totally unique style of drumming that nobody can ever duplicate. That was one of the baddest rhythm sections in the world."


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Last Ramone Standing

Just in case your winter months aren't depressing enough, a  new tumblr blog called Live! uses photoshop to edit out deceased members of rock bands from album covers. The above image may be the most disturbing: original drummer Tommy Ramone standing by himself, the lone survivor.

In fewer than three and a half years we lost three Ramones:

Vocalist Joey Ramone died April 15,2001of lymphoma.
Bassist Dee Dee Ramone died June 5, 2002 of a heroin overdose
Guitarist Johnny Ramone died September 15, 2004 of prostate cancer.
    Tommy Ramone died July 11, 2014 from cancer of the bile duct.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I Was A College Radio DJ In The 80's: Art In The Dark - Number

Art in the Dark: Number

[out of print]

Thanks to a door blown wide open by R.E.M., if you lived in Athens GA in the mid-80s, could sing with sincerity and knew enough guys to form a jangly rock band, you were already halfway to getting played on college radio. Art in the Dark was better than most. They often opened for R.E.M in their hometown. R.E.M. producer and Let's Active founder Mitch Easter produced their 1983 EP at his Drive-In Studio. They even covered Big Star's "Way Out West" on their first and only full length album The Icons. At the time, the only way to hear Big Star was to find a used vinyl copy in the back of a record store.

 The Icons had a number of good songs but at WTUL we played the lead off cut, "Number", the most. If expectations were for even greater things in the future, they weren't met. The boys split up. Some went to grad school. Some opened businesses. Most have kids. Humid nights in stuffy Southern clubs are now just a memory.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jim Kerr of Simple Minds Picks His All Time Faves

As told to Smash Hits Magazine for their April 16th, 1981  issue issue,  via Like Punk Never Happened 

1 Velvet Underground: Waiting For the Man - Music from the original Factory - America's Premiere journalist.
2 Ike and Tina Turner: Nutbush City Limits - Best ever melting pot where synthesiser shows its soul in solo.
3 Eno: Needle in the Camel's Eye - Not many pieces could live up to the promise of such a title - beautiful and sad.
4 Magazine: The Lights Pours Out of Me - Howard the insect and true star climbs on producer John Leckie's marble wall - best song of the last three years.
5 T Rex:  Get it On - For the saxophone and the cloak full of ego.
6 Neu: Neu 2 (LP)  - Sheer feelings, clear sounds, new musical realities for me. Take it to the hard hinterland.
7 Peter Gabriel: The Intruder - The darker side of Gabriel that maybe does exist. Look into his eyes and you'll see what I mean.
8 Joy Division: Love Will Tear Us Apart - The most uplifting single in a long - long time. It floats around me
9 Iggy Pop and David Bowie: The Idiot - Bass, drums, refrigerator and striplight combine - the offspring is "Baby, baby I like your pants"
10 Talking Heads: Don't Worry About the Government - The building is over there. A mixture of greatness and overpowering admiration for Tina Weymouth. Unworkable and Uncontrollable.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Deep Cuts: Ry Cooder - FDR in Trinidad (1972)

[Buy It!]

This is not the album version but a 1974 solo performance. I shrank the video box because of the annoying shot of the candy character.

With the dawning of 2012 1001Songs has a new year of music to explore: 1972. The year Stevie Wonder and Al Green each released two great albums while Big Star gave us #1 Record. The year The Stones dropped Exile on Main Street. Of Harvest and Ziggy Stardust. Of Backstabbers and Can't Buy A Thrill. Of Sail Away and The Slider.

We begin with a deep cut from Ry Cooder's Into the Purple Valley, a tremendous album released 40 years ago this month. It could have been a dust bowl era concept album, with its covers of Woody Guthrie's "Vigilante Man", Leadbelly's "On a Monday" and "Taxes On The Farmer Feed Us All" from the public domain. But  Cooder--a session guitarist who had played with The Rolling Stones, Randy Newman and Captain Beefheart --digs even deeper, unearthing this calypso gem from Fitz McLean originally recorded in 1937 by Attila The Hun to commemorate the president's visit to "The Land of the Hummingbirds". Buy Purple Valley and Paradise And Lunch first, but don't stop there.

By the way, here's the original version:

[Buy It!]

FDR aboard the USS Indianapolis off the coast of Trinidad.