Monthly Archives: March 2012

NRBQ – At Yankee Stadium / 1978

 

NRBQ got lost in the late 70’s mix because they were a fun-time college-radio band at a time when college radio was overrun by angry young punks.

That’s too bad for the average schmoe, who never got to hear much of this great LP.

In the late 1970s NRBQ gained a reputation for amazing live shows where, among other things, they would take requests from the audience and could faithfully reproduce virtually any song mentioned. They were a good time without being stupid. To hear Joey Spampinato hum & strum “I Love Her, She Loves Me” is to understand what the sweet side of Pop was meant to be.

NRBQ AT YANKEE STADIUM is so full of good songs it just makes you sick that everyone hasn’t heard it. It is a victory for average man, who wants to have fun without being stupid, who wants to sing without being a sap, who wants to dance without fear.

Green Lights     

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Little Walter – Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights / 1957

 

Song info

Written by
First release
No kiddin’
I’m ready to fight
I’ve been lookin’ for my baby all night
If I get her in my sight
Boom boom! out go the lightsI thought I treat my baby fair
Now she’s kiddin’ all in my hair
If I get her in my sight
Boom boom! out go the lights

– solo –

No kiddin’
I’m ready to go
When I find her boy don’t you know
If I get her in my sight
Boom boom! out go the lights

I never been so mad before
When I found out she ain’t mine no more
If I get her in my sight
Boom boom! out go the lights

Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights    

Florence and the Machine, ‘Ceremonials’ 2011

Florence and the machine’s best song to date is “Kiss With a Fist.” We are not arguing here. A blunt, cheerful ode to the romantic joys of mutually indulged domestic violence, the track is the glorious thorn on Florence Welch’s ascendant English rose — quick (two minutes!) and dirty (distorted guitars!) and irresponsible. It’s a fang-bearing flash of Joan Jett snarl amid the gothic-soccer-mom AOR grandeur of her celebrated 2009 debut, Lungs. Thunderous Hogwarts-R&B anthem “Dog Days Are Over” made her nominally famous, but here the violent exception rules: She’s a red-haired soul belter with a fierier, gnarlier, more volatile take on Adele’s retromania, a Kate Bush disciple who never forgets that the real Kate Bush could kill you with her bare hands.

Welch may never do anything as dangerous and uncouth as “Kiss” ever again. But even the threat of menace works wonders on terrific follow-up Ceremonials: She’s a bloodied, bloodying songbird in a gilded cage of immaculately crafted, slow-burn, chest-beating empowerment anthems, gripping steel bars that her elegantly volcanic voice could shred ?at any moment.

Consider rapturous call to arms “Shake It Out,” a feast of droning organs and concussive drums that begins as an assassination/martyrdom attempt, throwing Flo to the clichés instead of the lions: “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” “Damned if I do and damned if I don’t,” “At the end of my rope,” “It’s a shot in the dark,” and all-time Catholic-hymn classic “It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back.” Yet she rips the throat out of every line with that bazooka alto, turns even the banalities into profundities.

Thus is Ceremonials‘ pattern set: She’s so much better than her material that her material is rendered immaterial. “Lover to Lover” is the sort of sexy post-white-flight Motown strut Annie Lennox used to own; “No Light, No Light” is a desperate lovers’ quarrel, all agitated strings and galloping drums (no broken jaws or burning beds this time, alas); “What the Water Gave Me” is eerie, noirish melodrama, dainty plinking harp battling with surging electric guitar, PJ Harvey’s feral specter rising from the swamp for a tantalizing instant.

And oh, throughout, the pianos! By God’s teeth, this is the Axis: Bold as Love of piano, tinkling and pounding and cascading and drizzling and thundering, from convulsive to jaunty lead melodies, often bolstered by drums of DJ Premier–level bombast, coated in sumptuous hot-fudge reverb, nostalgically futuristic, like aural Instagram. As songs, most of these are negligible (they’re all roughly five minutes long, begin ominously, intensify inexorably, and explode theatrically right around the bridge); but as events, they’re epochal and become even more so the more ostentatious Flo’s vocals get. When she sings, “And I did cartwheels in your honor,” her voice actually does cartwheels; the way she delivers the three-word phrase “short shallow gasps” is worthy of Shakespeare, Wicked, and Twilight.

Instructively, her best lyrical moment here, “All This & Heaven Too,” laments the failure of language to articulate her wonder: “All my stumbling phrases never amounted to anything worth this feeling.” So concentrate on that feeling, that casual grandiosity, the overpowering beauty with a searing edge that she doesn’t indulge enough, but just enough to leave you spellbound, regardless. A kiss without a fist is better than none.

Shake It Out     

The Shins, “Port of Morrow” – 2012

Besides being Natalie Portman’s favorite band in the 2004 art-house movie hit “Garden State,” the Shins have put out a series of albums brimming with lyrically cryptic pop-guitar jangle.

The band’s fourth studio album, “Port of Morrow” (Columbia), is its first in five years. In that time, the band’s singer and songwriter, James Mercer, has overhauled the band and worked on side projects such as Broken Bells, with the producer Danger Mouse. For the Shins major-label debut, he has enlisted pop producer Greg Kurstin (who has worked with everyone from Kesha to Beck) to sharpen, polish and broaden the sound, and the results are decidely mixed.

Fans of the band’s relatively modest indie releases may find the production oddly sparkly, layered with keyboards, wordless harmonies, and exotic little noisemakers and ear-catching details. But Mercer’s gift for the insinuating melody remains acute, and his lyrics have never been more straight-forward.

Kurstin packs the album with sonic forget-me-nots: The contrast between Mercer’s falsetto and the bubbling bass line in “The Rifle’s Spiral,” the woozy psychedelic folk of “September,” the ghostly cries that trip memories in “40 Mark Strasse.” Mercer even tries on a new vocal persona in the title track: the gender-bending soul balladeer, and it works.

But not every song measures up; the horns on “Fall of 82” can’t mask its slightness and “Simple Song” isn’t nearly simple enough, a heart-felt statement sunk by grandiose production. Similarly, a potentially beautiful song of consolation, “It’s Only Life,” feels overdone. Such are the compromises made when the budgets and the business stakes are raised.                    — March 19, 2012|Greg Kot | Music critic

Track Listing:
1. The Rifles Spiral
2. Simple Song
3. Its Only Life
4. No Way Down
5. September
6. Bait and Switch
7. Fall of 82
8. For A Fool
9. 40 Mark Strasse
10. Port of Morrow

‘Port of Morrow’

Fall Of ’82

 

 

 

 

Tony Joe White – Polk Salad Annie / 1969 single

Tony Joe White is generally considered the father of swamp rock, which is an amalgam of blues rock set in a rural backdrop of Louisiana, where Tony Joe is from. And he is the real deal, as they might say. One of seven children he picked cotton and raised corn (that was made into corn liquor) in the land of the alligators and swamps cypress trees and bayous.

Most people know Tony Joe from his hit in the late 1960s “Poke Salad Annie,” but really that’s all they know about him, and to me that is, as they would say down in Louisiana, a low down dirty shame. What a cool song Polk Salad Annie is

What’s interesting is that Poke salad (pictured left), one is also known as pokeweed is essentially toxic to eat–poisonous, in fact! You have to get the leaves early in spring before they turn a red color and then you still have to boil them for a long period time before you can eat them. Apparently this neutralizes the poison. Once you realize this, the nature of the song, specifically the dangerous nature of Poke salad Annie herself, takes on a new and interesting level.

Tony Joe White’s great strength in my view was his ability to tell his wonderful folksy stories and inject a great deal of humor in the process. Because he is from Oak Grove, Louisiana and he does have a very thick southern accent he has this really distinct sound as a result. Plus, he also uses some very interesting turns of phrases and colloquialisms that you don’t see in standard conversational English.  It’s really quite endearing, and it’s important note that it’s real-as real as it gets.  After all honky-tonk women is sung by a guy who went to the London School of Economics. Even though it is a great song, does Mick Jagger really know anything about honky tonks or is he just talking about an idealized version of what people think and would like a honky-tonk and honky-tonk women to be like?

Poke Salad Annie   

 

Billy Ward & the Dominoes – Sixty Minute Man / 1951

“Sixty Minute Man” is a rhythm and blues (R&B) record released in 1951 by The Dominoes. It was written by Billy Ward and Rose Marks and was one of the first R&B hit records to cross over to become a pop hit on the pop charts. It was also the first double entendre hit.[citation needed] It is regarded as one of the most important of the recordings which helped generate and shape rock and roll,The Dominoes were a black vocal group consisting of Clyde McPhatter (1932-1972), who later left the group to form the Drifters,[2] Bill Brown, Charlie White and Joe Lamont, led by their pianist, manager and songwriter, Billy Ward (1921-2002).

Ward was a black, classically trained vocal coach who had formed a business partnership with a white New York talent agent, Rose Marks. The pair decided to put together a smooth vocal group to rival the Ink Spots, the Orioles, and other similar groups who were beginning to win acceptance with white audiences. In 1950, the Dominoes were signed to Federal Records, and held a series of recording sessions at the National Studios in New York in November and December of that year. Their initial release was “Do Something For Me”, the first record on which McPhatter sang lead, was musically a gospel song with gospel-style melismas but lyrically secular.[3] This was a success, entering the R&B charts at the beginning of February 1951.

“Sixty Minute Man”         

Oholics – Orbits / 2012

On May the 30th Oholics are back with their second studio album – Orbits!

After their critically acclaimed debut Disgraceland in 2009 and touring all over Europe the band settled themselves in Rill S Studio in their hometown of Gothenburg. Together with producer Rickard Hallin they recorded their follow up album Orbits. Having released three singles to great success all over the world, Orbits is all ready off to a great start.

The album is available for pre-order in an exclusive, signed, limited CD-edition including postage and digital download. And the signed CD delivered a week before it’s released!

Oholics will tour Scandinavia and Europe starting May 26th with a release party at Sticky Fingers in Gothenburg. Tickets are up for sale via Biljettforum.se

Spread the word and feel free to contact for any enquiries: info@oholics.com

This campaign is supported by KulturUngdom.

Best regards

Suzy Banyon Blues              

Last Stoned Monday

Paul Simon – “Paul Simon” (1972)

Though not technically Paul Simon’s solo debut – that honor goes to the acoustic performances he recorded for 1965’s The Paul Simon Songbook – this first post-Simon & Garfunkel album does represent the true beginnings of Simon’s massive success as a solo artist. Released in 1972, it came two years after Simon & Garfunkel bowed out with the Grammy winning Bridge Over Troubled Water, and the same year as the duo’s greatest hits album topped the chart. Simon’s re-debut was a strong artistic statement that was both commercially successful and the seedbed for experimentation and growth that would mark his solo career. The album opens with the reggae-inspired hit single “Mother and Child Reunion,” and along with the Latin influences of “Me and Julio Down By the School Yard” and haunting Andean instrumental breaks in “Duncan,” the melting pot of styles predicted the wealth of world music Simon would fold into his music.

At 32, Simon had matured from the sharp, at times bitter, worldview of his twenties. The difficulty of Simon & Garfunkel’s end had given way to the freedom of a solo act, and there’s a sense of renewed discovery in his characters and lyrical forms. The wayward “Duncan” recounts the education of a small-town fisherman’s son into a clear-eyed world traveler, while the fragmentary allusions of “Mother and Child Reunion” are surprisingly open-ended and poetically opaque. Simon’s marriage with his wife was apparently following his professional partnership with Garfunkel into dissolution, providing grist for “Everything Put Together Falls Apart,” “Run That Body Down” and “Congratulations.” Simon’s voice never sounded better, he asserts his picking talent on “Armistice Day” and “Peace Like a River” and vamps happily behind violinist Stephane Grappelli on the swing instrumental “Hobo’s Blues.”

Producer Roy Halee, as he’d done for Bridge Over Troubled Water, surrounded his artist with friendly, talented and inventive musicians. Together they crafted spacious, highly sympathetic arrangements that had the delicacy of an acoustic band, the depth of a jazz combo and the power of well-placed moments of electric guitar. Columbia/Legacy’s 2011 reissue reuses Bill Inglot’s remastering and the three bonus tracks of Rhino’s 2004 reissue, including solo acoustic-guitar demos of “Me and Julio Down by the School Yard” and “Duncan,” and an alternate version of “Paranoia Blues.” Legacy’s traded out Rhino’s digipack for a standard jewel case and an 8-page booklet of lyrics and pictures.

Duncan

Peace Like a River

 

 

Small Houses ‘North’ – 2011

there is something I appreciate, it is a great sense of instrumentation, harmonies and use of acoustics in my “folk” music selections.  Small Houses (or Jeremy Quentin as the government knows him) includes all these things in his sound.  Quentin has recently been added to our ‘featured videos’ on the front page for a great session of Country Flowers from the new album and this is the official “you should listen to…” post on it.  So then, you know I am a fan of Small Houses and that I think this is a good record.  You should be counting down the days until October 6th.

The album ‘North’ is almost a combination of Small Houses songs that have been in the works for a while because if you follow this Michigan artist, you will see familiar songs titles…all have been reworked and sing anew.  The songs sound a bit more dense, you can dig into them and hear them all over again.  Songs like “Late July” now include crisp piano and pedal/lap steel that really makes all the difference. You have a couple of instrumental tracks and even an upbeat version of “In the Lawn” – which you know has come to be from the energy of live shows.

There is also a plethora of contributions throughout the record from fellow musicians like Chris Bathgate on mandolin, Samantha Crain joining in on vocals and even Phil D’Agostino (of Hezekiah Jones) on bass among numerous others.

Personal favourites include “Late July”, “The Ground, It’s Glass”, “North” and “Country Flowers”, so look out for them when you pick up the record.  So for now enjoy a full track-isting, video from the Small Houses Bridgehouse Session and the title track to the new album below;

1) The First Year After
2) Instrumental #1
3) Country Flowers
4) I and My Maker
5) Late July
6) In the Lawn
7) Instrumental #2
8) Tired and Twenty Cities
9) The Ground It’s Glass
10) North (mp3)

“North”    

“Tired and Twenty Cities

Jefferson Airplane – After Bathing At Baxters / 1967

—  Rolling Stone Magazine

January 20, 1968

It is entirely possible that after one eliminates certain products of the Stax-Volt house band and some combinations that Bob Dylan has brought together for his back-up group, Jefferson Airplane could be the best rock and roll band in America today.

The criteria, to list a few, are that a group be able to provide from within itself enough good original material to sustain a prolonged effort both in performances and on recordings; that a group prove its ability as a professional and capable unit in live performance (not necessarily be able to reproduce a recorded work, but to bring off to general satisfaction a live performance if the group is involved in live performance;) and that a group contain members who are able to sing and play like professional musicians.

You have Grace Slick, surely one of the two or three best non-operatic female voices in the world; Jack Cassady, perhaps the strongest bassist around outside of a blues band; Marty Balin and Paul Kantner whose words and melodies are among the best currently available, outside of the obvious exceptions; and Jorma Kaukonen and Spencer Dryden who, while not outstanding instrumental virtuosos, are certainly original and inventive within the context of rock and roll, a wide context indeed. Got it?

It isn’t very surprising that the Airplane is so good and that they have come up with probably the best, considering all the criteria and the exceptions, rock and roll album so far produced by an American group.

Hey all you out there with personal favorites which blow your heads off, listen very closely. Marty and Grace may not make love on stage, either with each other or their respective microphone stands, but “Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil” happens to be a fine song. The instrumental backing is traditional Airplane 2/4 rhythm, whiplash chording and all, brought up to date with a subtle variety of electronic and melodic refinements. The tune itself is a groove: a pretty melody with a rocking beat against a sort of atonal line.

The electronic segue is well-positioned and a nice dip into the modern classical music school. The most important use of electronics on this album, and by the Airplane in general, is not their long extended electronic jams which are oftentimes a bore, but where they use electronics — as in the superb tune “Young Girl Sunday Blues,” an excellent product of the Balin-Kantner team — for enrichment of the instrumental and vocal melodies.

“Rejoyce” is not something that’s particularly easy to hum along with, but it’s a good display of Grace’s amazing vocal control, her piano and Spencer’s jazz ear. “Watch Her Ride” has a very south-of-Santa Barbara feeling; it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that it was composed in Los Angeles. “Spare Chaynge” proves both Jorma and Spencer to be gifted musicians fully capable of sustaining an instrumental, not highly complex, but highly interesting.

“Street Masse” and “How Suite It Is” are the best sections on each side, excellent in all respects. Jefferson Airplane is still the group that’ll “get you there on time.”

rejoyce

Martha