Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Transformer: The Other Faces of Lou Reed

Ecstasy (Lou Reed album)
Ecstasy (Lou Reed album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Charles Fairchild

The plaudits have arrived very quickly for Lou Reed, who has died aged 71.

He is clearly regarded as a towering figure, credited with playing a central role in creating one of the most influential albums in rock history, 1967’s The Velvet Underground & Nico.

He also helped prepare the ground for the emergence of both glam and punk. Throughout his life, Reed always seemed to be the grumpy centre of a zeitgeist.

Oddly, my immediate memory of Lou Reed is of him sitting on a Honda scooter saying: “Hey. Don’t settle for walking.”

I saw him on television when I was a teenager, back when you couldn’t watch things over and over again on your phone. There he was on our suburban American television and then he was gone. It was almost like it didn’t happen at all.

It did happen.

Looking at the ad again on YouTube this morning, I was struck by how normal Reed looked, how outwardly healthy and considered he appeared when he was sitting on that red scooter as his immortal track Walk on the Wild Side hummed along underneath, accompanying jump cut scenes of New York at night.

One of the comments under the video was a simple, perplexed wail from “daveny1979”, posted a few months ago: “THIS HAPPENED????”

The Velvet Underground & Nico. oddsock

It did.

There seems to be a need among many of Reed’s obituarists to turn him into the Great Artist “we” always knew he was. His band was the most influential, his work the most daring, his feelings the most felt.

But it seems to me that Reed’s biography, the simple facts of his life alone, should complicate the attribution of any such simple superlatives. He was a much more interesting artist than most of these merely laudatory portraits suggest.

Coney Island Baby

In a recently reissued copy of Up-Tight: The Velvet Underground Story, there is a passage that seems to capture something important about Reed.

Was Lou Reed a Great Artist lionised in books, film and obituaries or a deft and adaptable shape-shifter? Steve Rhodes

The book is more or less just a very interesting collection of a lot of very long quotes from people who were there in New York when all those events we think we know so much about were happening.

There is one passage from Tony Conrad, now regarded by many as a very important artist, but who was then just a member of an almost entirely notional pseudo rock-and-roll band. Conrad catches something about Reed that seems crucial to explaining a lot of what followed.

Conrad describes how, when he and The Velvet Underground founding member John Cale lived together at 56 Ludlow Street in Manhattan:
[w]e had been working with LaMonte [Young] for some time doing very austere regimented things which were pretty intense.

Reed’s high-school yearbook. Wikimedia Commons

After a hard day’s work at the coalface of avant-garde aesthetics, Conrad says he used to like to come home and play Hank Williams and blast selections from his “huge 45 collection”. He says that he and Cale found “something very liberating about the whole rock thing”.

It just so happened their next door neighbour knew some guys who ran a record label out on Coney Island who said, “they were looking for some guys with long hair to form a rock band”. At one of his neighbour’s parties, they met the guys who ran the label, Pickwick Records.

In the course of what Conrad describes as an “interview”, they agreed to go:
out to this weird cinderblock warehouse … packed floor to ceiling with records and in the back these sleazeballs and weirdos wearing polyester suits had a little hole-in-the-wall room with a couple of Ampex tape recorders in it.
Conrad continues:
What had happened was they’d gone back there with one of their staff writers, gone crazy one night and recorded a couple of their songs. They’d decided they wanted to release them, but needed a band to cover, because the executives and creepos had made the record.
Conrad and his bandmates listened to the record, called The Ostrich, and agreed to “play some gigs to promote the record”.

The next weekend, he remembers, “they came around and picked us up in a station wagon and John Cale, Walter De Maria and I began going out to these gigs trying to break the record” (that’s the celebrated minimalist sculptor Walter De Maria; apparently he played drums).

When the car arrived, they discovered that their band had a fourth member, “the guy who’d actually written and recorded the song - that was Lou Reed. He was 22.”


Reading the multitude of memoirs and exegeses from New York in the 1960s, one too easily gets the sense of massive tectonic plates smashing into one another, forming new landmasses in the process. We lose a lot if we only rely on these received narratives.

Lou Reed was a complex character. He was just as able to work his way through a fly-by-night organisation like Pickwick Records as place himself at the heart of Andy Warhol’s complex and sometimes tough social and artistic world.

The Velvet Underground, and the larger enfolding spectacles of The Exploding Plastic Inevitable and The Factory, were not just places where art got made. They were a fashionable, high-profile, and exclusive milieu.

Whether hustling records at the margins of the music industry or working with some of the most celebrated artists of his time, Reed was always particularly capable at placing himself at the centre of things and making himself matter to them.

He will be missed.

Further reading:
The art of rock remembrance: RIP Lou Reed

Charles Fairchild does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, October 28, 2013

VIDEOS: Hear Newly-Released Material from the Lost Acetate Version of The Velvet Underground & Nico (1966)

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/01/hear_newly_released_material_from_ithe_velvet_underground_nicosi_lost_acetate_version_1966.html

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.

While the first Velvet Underground album may only have sold 30,000 copies, everyone who bought one started a band.

You know, if you have even a faint acquaintance with rock history, that that well-worn observation comes from producer, artistic innovator, and “non-musician” musician Brian Eno.

And whether you could get into it or not, you’ve no doubt heard at least parts of that first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, the 1967 release that brought together such soon-to-be rock luminaries as Lou Reed, John Cale, and the titular German vocalist/ Warhol Superstar Nico.

The whole album, in fact, appeared under Warhol’s aegis, and like most works associated with him, it tends to push opinions far in one direction or the other.

The Velvet Undergound & Nico may still move you to found a rock band - or to scrap your interest in rock altogether - 45 years after its first release.

I refer to the record’s “first release” because it’s recently undergone a couple more, both of which originate in a version never even intended for market.

“In 2002, a fellow paid 75 cents at a New York City flea market for a curious acetate recording of the Velvet Underground,” reports Boing Boing’s David Pescovitz. “Turns out, the acetate contained early recorded takes and mixes of songs in different form.”

That man had stumbled upon the coveted Scepter Studios acetate version of the album that launched 30,000 bands, bootleg files of which soon began circulating on the net.

The acetate received a legitimate release last year as part of The Velvet Underground & Nico‘s “45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition,” and you can hear cuts from it, like “Heroin” at the top of this post and “All Tomorrow’s Parties” just above.

For Velvet Underground purists, of course, only hearing the acetate disc itself will do. They’ll have a hard time doing so - it last changed hands for $25,200 - but luckily they can now get at least one step closer with its brand new vinyl release.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

VIDEOS: 50 Years On, Dylan's "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" Still Speaks Truth to Power

by , Yes! magazine: http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/fifty-years-on-bob-dylan-s-lonesome-death-of-hattie-carroll-still-speaks-truth-to-power

Erika Lundahl wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Erika is an editorial intern at YES!

Fifty years ago today, a 22-year-old Bob Dylan sat down to record "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" at Studio A in New York City.

The song is a mostly factual account of the then-recent murder of African American barmaid Hattie Carroll by wealthy tobacco farmer William Zantzinger.

The song appeared on "The Times They Are A-Changing," an album full of remarkable works. But what makes "Hattie Carroll" special, from today's vantage point, is its topical nature and continuing relevance.

The song comments directly on the social problems of its time, and younger songwriters have adopted its melody and structure to talk about today's injustices.

The verses of the song - each of which consists of a single, detail-heavy sentence - lay out a slightly simplified version of the facts of the case, while the final chorus provides Dylan’s commentary on the immorality of the event:

But you who philosophize disgrace
And criticize all fears,
Bury the rag deep in your face,
For now is the time for your tears.

"The story I took out of a newspaper," Dylan told talk-show host Steve Allen. "I used it for something I wanted to say."

Songwriters have tended to leave that chorus intact while adjusting the verses to fit modern-day issues.

In 2006, British musician and activist Billy Bragg gave the Hattie Carroll treatment to Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003.

Like Dylan before him, Bragg uses the verses to weave together sharply reported details of Corrie's case with commentary on the political context:

Rachel Corrie had 23 years
She was born in the town of Olympia, Washington
A skinny, messy, list-making chain-smoker
Who volunteered to protect the Palestinian people
Who had become non-persons in the eyes of the media
So that people were suffering and no one was seeing
Or hearing or talking or caring or acting ...

(You can download a free copy of the song at the Guardian, and listen to it in the video below).

Then, just last year, Massachusetts songwriter Jonah Mantranga became the latest singer to borrow Dylan's melody and chorus, this time applying it to the case of Trayvon Martin.

His song puts George Zimmerman in the role of William Zantzinger, showing an eerie set of parallels between the two cases.

George Zimmerman, who had 28 years
Has a dad who's a judge who keeps speaking for him
And over the years he's tried to protect him
With his high-court relations in the politics of Florida

Matranga says he was inspired to write the song by his "radically inclusive" Methodist church where he sings in the choir. In an email, Mantranga wrote that "the whole community addressed [the Trayvon case] head-on, speaking out against profiling."

Taken together, the three stories - of Hattie Carroll, Rachel Corrie, and Trayvon Martin - build a story that transcends lines of race, gender, and identity, illuminating structural injustice and appealing to a higher conscience.

The legacy of "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" points to the lasting power of music to bring meaning to senseless tragedies.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Jimi Hendrix's Shy Genius Explored in New Documentary

In the waning hours of his young life, Jimi Hendrix was photographed in London sitting outdoors at a table set for tea for two.

Only the guest resting in the other chair wasn't a friend, musician or lover. It was a guitar.

That image, taken not long before Hendrix's death at age 27 on Sept. 18, 1970, of drug-related asphyxiation, encapsulates the thrust of Jimi Hendrix - Hear My Train A Comin', a new two-hour documentary.

After a short theatrical run that starts tonight in Philadelphia, the rock doc will air as part of PBS' American Masters series on Nov. 5 (9 p.m. ET, check local listings).

Also out Nov. 5 from Experience Hendrix and Legacy Recordings are an expanded version of the film on DVD and Blu-ray ($13.98-$24.98), as well as a recording of previously unreleased live tracks from Hendrix's gig at the Miami Pop Festival in 1968 ($11.98 CD, $27.98 audiophile vinyl), rare footage of which is included in the documentary.

"Everyone talks about the women or the drugs, but the most important thing to this man was his music," says director Bob Smeaton, whose rock-doc credits include Festival Express and The Beatles Anthology.

"He was a shy guy, but as (Paul) McCartney says (in the film), when Jimi was on stage, 'it's like he was let out of jail.' "

Smeaton scored not only the enthusiastic Beatle, who gave him more than twice the promised time ("you could tell he really loved Jimi - they were both left-handed, and Jimi did Sgt. Pepper in concert the week after that album came out") but also colleagues (Steve Winwood), admirers (Dweezil Zappa) and a number of friends and lovers who haven't appeared on film before, including his pre-fame, Harlem-era paramour Faye Pridgeon.

"A lot of documentaries tend to feature famous people who didn't really know the person, so we wanted to make sure we had people who really knew Jimi," says Janie Hendrix, the Seattle guitarist's stepsister and president of Experience Hendrix, which oversees the legend's ever-expanding catalog.

Adds Smeaton: "These people were attracted to him before he was a rock star, when he was struggling but still had that magnetism."

The result is an intimate portrait of a shy genius who was never without his guitar, strapping it on first thing in the morning and often falling asleep with it at night.

Such dedication yielded a searing, blues-based sound that was heading in new directions when Hendrix took the stage in Florida in 1968. The release includes 11 songs from that gig, which was recorded live by Hendrix's engineer Eddie Kramer.

"It's a little bit of history," Janie says of Jimi Hendrix Experience: Miami Pop Festival, a concert that was put on by Michael Lang, whose next big production was called Woodstock.

"Songs start out one way and start morphing into other songs," best exemplified in a version of Foxy Lady that quickly abandons the radio hit for a psychedelic flight of fancy.

The Jimi train will keep rolling: Next up are DVD releases of famous concert dates, and Janie is in talks with Hollywood producers about a long-awaited biopic about her brother. "It's really happening," she says. "But it'll be done right."

What any big screen version of Hendrix's comet-like life would have to capture is the musician's "incredible sense of mystery," says Smeaton.

"Going into this (documentary), I always felt Hendrix was a bit of a mystery to me. And now after learning so much about him, I still feel he's a mystery. Which is what makes him forever interesting."

Friday, October 25, 2013

VIDEOS: William S. Burroughs “Sings” R.E.M. and The Doors, Backed by the Original Bands

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/william-s-burroughs-sings-r-e-m-and-the-doors-backed-by-the-original-bands.html

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The nineties saw a lot of alternative bands not only wear their influences on their sleeves, but also bring them up on stage and into the studio.

William S. Burroughs was one such luminary, appearing on Tom Waits’ 1993 The Black Rider, a collaboration with Kurt Cobain titled “Priest They Called Him,” and September Songs, a 1997 Kurt Weill tribute album featuring the likes of PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, and Lou Reed.

In 1996, Burroughs got together with R.E.M. for a cover of their “Star Me Kitten” from ‘92’s Automatic for the People. In the track above, hear Burroughs recite Michael Stipe’s lyrics over the band’s instrumentation.

The recording comes from an album called Songs in the Key of X: Music From and Inspired By the X-Files, which included Frank Black, Soul Coughing, Foo Fighters, and PM Dawn.

Burroughs introduces his rendition by citing a much more classical source for his cabaret approach to the song: Marlene Dietrich. “Not one of my favorite people,” he mumbles, dourly. See perhaps why.

Burroughs didn’t only work musically with contemporary alt bands in the ’90s, and he had a long, illustrious recording career several decades prior.

In a mash-up that brings together a band closer to Burroughs’ prime, hear the beat writer’s rhythmic deadpan of Jim Morrison’s “Is Everybody In?,” backed by the surviving Doors.

Despite the original players, it’s still a very ‘90s production (though released in 2000).

From a Doors tribute album called Stoned Immaculate, the song sits, somewhat uncomfortably, next to covers and interpretations by Stone Temple Pilots, The Cult, Creed, Smash Mouth, Days of the New, and Train, and a bit cozier next to stalwarts like John Lee Hooker, Exene Cervenka, and Bo Diddley.

Burroughs’ is the stand-out track among many that also feature the Doors as a backing band, although in an acid-jazz production - with samples of soul music and Morrison himself - that may sound a bit dated.

But Burroughs is as dry as ever, underlining the sheer creepiness of Morrison’s poetry in a tribute that also highlights the debt Morrison owed him.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, October 24, 2013

VIDEO: Pull My Daisy: 1959 Beatnik Film Stars Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, Shot by Robert Frank

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2012/10/ipull_my_daisyi_improvisational_beatnik_film_stars_jack_kerouac_and_allen_ginsberg_shot_by_robert_frank.html

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.

Sure, you could experience the Beat sensibility on film by watching The Beat Generation. But why settle for that high-gloss Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer feature treatment when you can get an unadulterated half-hour chunk of the real thing above, in Pull My Daisy?

Both films came out in 1959, but only the latter comes from the lens of photographer Robert Frank, he of the famous photobook The Americans. And only the latter features the unconventional performing talents of Allen Ginsberg, David Amram, Delphine Seyrig, and Jack Kerouac.

That Kerouac himself provides all the narration assures us we’re watching a movie fully committed to the Beat mindset.

“Early morning in the universe,” he says to set the opening scene. “The wife is gettin’ up, openin’ up the windows, in this loft that’s in the Bowery of the Lower East Side of New York. She’s a painter, and her husband’s a railroad brakeman, and he’s comin’ home in a couple hours, about five hours, from the local.”

Kerouac’s ambling words seem at first like one improvisational element of many.

In fact, they provided the production’s only element of improvisation: Frank and company took pains to light, shoot, script, and rehearse with great deliberateness, albeit the kind of deliberateness meant to create the impression of thrown-together, ramshackle spontaneity.

But if the kind of careful craft that made Pull My Daisy seems not to fit within the anarchic subcultural collective persona of the Beats, surely the premises of its story and the consequences thereof do.

The aforementioned brakeman brings a bishop home for dinner, but his exuberantly low-living buddies decide they want in on the fun.

Or if there’s no fun to be had, then, in keeping with what we might identify as Beat principles, they’ll create some of their own. Or at least they’ll create a disturbance, and where could a Beat possibly draw the line between disturbance and fun?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

VIDEO: "Working Class Hero" by John Lennon

by jigowatts

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever and class less and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

Monday, October 21, 2013

VIDEO: Jimmy Page, 13, Plays Guitar on BBC Talent Show (1957)

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2010/07/jimmy_page_13_plays_guitar_on_bbc_talent_show_1957.html

Let’s rewind the video tape to 1957. A very young Jimmy Page appears on a BBC children’s talent show to play some skiffle.

Mixing together strands of American blues, jazz, country and folk music, this style of music became all the rage in the UK during the 1950s. Lonnie Donegan got the craze going.

And it wasn’t long before John Lennon formed his own skiffle band - The Quarry Men (photo here) … later to become The Beatles.

Heading into the 60s, a maturing Jimmy Page took his music in entirely new directions, which brings us to our post last week: The Strange Tale of Dazed and Confused.

Video via LaughingSquid

Sunday, October 20, 2013

VIDEO: ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’: Neil Young Plays Two Songs on The Johnny Cash Show, 1971

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2012/11/the_needle_and_the_damage_done_neil_young_plays_two_songs_on_ithe_johnny_cash_showi_in_nashville_1971.html

Here’s a scene from a classic episode of The Johnny Cash Show, with Neil Young singing a pair of deeply personal songs that he had only recently written.

“Johnny Cash on Campus” was a special edition that aired on February 17, 1971. Cash and his crew visited Vanderbilt University in Nashville to talk with students.

In the program, one of them raises the subject of drugs in the music industry, and Cash speaks briefly about his own problem with drugs before introducing Young, who sings “The Needle and the Damage Done” in front of an all-student audience at the Ryman Auditorium.

Young then puts down his guitar and moves to a piano to play “Journey Through the Past.”

It was a busy time for Young. While he was in Nashville to appear on the show he was persuaded by a local record producer to record his next album there. He began work almost immediately on what would become his masterpiece, Harvest.

On the night of the Johnny Cash Show Young invited two other guests that night, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor, to go back to the studio with him afterward.

Together the three sang the backing vocals on “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man,” and Taylor played the distinctive banjo guitar part on “Old Man.”

The February 17, 1971 episode of The Johnny Cash Show is also notable for being the first time Cash performed “Man in Black.”

He got the idea for the song from his discussions with the students at Vanderbilt, and finished writing the lyrics on the day of the show. The song was so new he needed cue cards to sing the words.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Great Story: How Neil Young Introduced his Classic 1972 Album "Harvest" to Graham Nash

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/great-story-how-neil-young-introduced-his-classic-1972-album-harvest-to-graham-nash.html


Graham Nash, of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has a new book out, Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life. And that means he’s doing interviews, many interviews.

A couple of weeks ago, he spent an excellent hour on The Howard Stern Show (seriously). Next, it was off to chat with the more cerebral Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air.

In the midst of the interview (listen online here), Gross asked Nash to talk about his friendship with Neil Young, a man Nash has called “the strangest of my friends.” Just what makes him strange? Nash explains:
The man is totally committed to the muse of music. And he’ll do anything for good music. And sometimes it’s very strange. I was at Neil’s ranch one day just south of San Francisco, and he has a beautiful lake with red-wing blackbirds. And he asked me if I wanted to hear his new album, “Harvest.” And I said sure, let’s go into the studio and listen.
Oh, no. That’s not what Neil had in mind. He said get into the rowboat.
I said get into the rowboat? He said, yeah, we’re going to go out into the middle of the lake. Now, I think he’s got a little cassette player with him or a little, you know, early digital format player. So I’m thinking I’m going to wear headphones and listen in the relative peace in the middle of Neil’s lake.
Oh, no. He has his entire house as the left speaker and his entire barn as the right speaker. And I heard “Harvest” coming out of these two incredibly large loud speakers louder than hell. It was unbelievable. Elliot Mazer, who produced Neil, produced “Harvest,” came down to the shore of the lake and he shouted out to Neil: How was that, Neil?
And I swear to god, Neil Young shouted back: More barn!
To that we say, more Neil Young!

Friday, October 18, 2013

VIDEO: Jimmy Page Tells the Story of “Kashmir”

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2011/09/jimmy_page_tells_the_story_of_kashmir.html

One of the most original and distinctive songs Led Zeppelin ever recorded was the exotic, eight-and-a-half minute “Kashmir,” from the 1975 album Physical Graffiti.

In this clip from Davis Guggenheim’s film It Might Get Loud (2009), Jimmy Page explains the origins of the song to fellow guitarists Jack White and The Edge.

Then Page demonstrates it by picking up an old modified Danelectro 59DC Double Cutaway Standard guitar that he played the song with on some of Led Zeppelin’s tours (watch Kashmir live here).

In 1973, Page had been experimenting with an alternative D modal, or DADGAD, tuning often used on stringed instruments in the Middle East, when he hit upon the hypnotic, rising and falling riff.

The song came together over a period of a couple of years. John Bonham added his distinctive, overpowering drums during a two-man recording session with Page at Headley Grange.

Singer Robert Plant wrote the lyrics while he and Page were driving through the Sahara Desert in Southern Morocco (neither Page nor Plant had ever visited Kashmir, in the Himalayas).

Bassist and keyboard player John Paul Jones added the string and horn arrangements the following year.

In a 1995 radio interview with Australian journalist Richard Kingsmill, Plant recalled his experience with “Kashmir”:

It was an amazing piece of music to write to, and an incredible challenge for me. Because of the time signature, the whole deal of the song is … not grandiose, but powerful. It required some kind of epithet, or abstract lyrical setting about the whole idea of life being an adventure and being a series of illuminated moments. But everything is not what you see. It was quite a task, because I couldn’t sing it. It was like the song was bigger than me.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

NEWS: Rock Hall Nominations to Yes, Zombies, Deep Purple

Prog rock band Yes logoby , Psychedelic Sight: http://psychedelicsight.com/9565-rock-hall-2014/

Yes, Deep Purple and the Zombies bring a healthy dose of psychedelia to the 2014 nominees list for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Also nominated are the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, whose sonic explorations of the 1960s include the raga-rock mindblower “East-West,” and genre-spanning art rocker Peter Gabriel.

Other acts identified with the 1960s are Linda Ronstadt, the Meters, Link Wray and Cat Stevens. Yes, Gabriel and the Zombies are first-time nominees.

Yes has been a notable and puzzling omission to the Rock Hall, perceived, perhaps, as a genre snub. Last year’s induction ceremony saw Rush make the cut, though, bringing the first taste of prog rock to the institution.

Other nominees are Hall and Oates, Nirvana, the Replacements, Chic, KISS, N.W.A. and LL Cool J. Fans once again are offered a voice, however small, via a Rock Hall online poll. Yes and Deep Purple were among the top early vote getters.

Procol Harum disappeared from the Rock Hall’s shortlist after first appearing in 2012. Yes, the Rock Hall noted, fused “the cinematic soundscapes of King Crimson with the hard rock edge of the Who and the soaring harmonies and melodies of Simon and Garfunkel. … Album-side length epics like ‘Close to the Edge’ and ‘The Gates Of Delirium’ represent the (prog) genre at its absolute finest.”

Deep Purple’s “onslaught of sound along with such contemporaries as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, led rock critics to coin a new musical genre: heavy metal. … Epic chart singles ‘Smoke on the Water’ and ‘Woman From Tokyo’ sold Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster guitars in numbers that stagger the imagination.”

The Zombies’ “second and final album ‘Odessey And Oracle’ has earned its reputation … alongside such masterworks as the Beatles’ White Album and the Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds.’” The Rock Hall noted the English band’s “studied, sophisticated, intricately arranged atmospherics” as well as its “triad of career-defining hits”: “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No” and “Time Of the Season.”

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band “turned on the Fillmore generation to the pleasures of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon and Elmore James.” Its Eastern-influenced epic “East-West” stands high on this web site’s list of the top psychedelic songs.

Peter Gabriel, as a solo artist, “blended synthesizers and a signature gated drum sound with an emotional honesty learned from soul music to create a sensibility that would influence artists from U2 and Arcade Fire to Depeche Mode.” Genesis was inducted in 2010.

Inductees are expected to be announced in December. The ceremony will be in April, this time in New York.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

VIDEOS: Deconstructing Led Zeppelin’s Classic Song ‘Ramble On’ Track by Track: Guitars, Bass, Drums & Vocals

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/deconstructing-led-zeppelins-classic-song-ramble-on-track-by-track.html

Jimmy Page’s acoustic guitar

The beauty of isolated tracks is that they allow us to hear an old piece of music in a completely new way. They give us a fresh perspective on something we thought we already knew.

Today we bring you a series of isolated tracks showing how Led Zeppelin pieced together one of its classic early songs: “Ramble On.”

The song was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and recorded in New York in the spring of 1969. Led Zeppelin was on its second tour of North America. Along the way, the band popped into various studios to lay down tracks for Led Zeppelin II.

The remainder of the album was recorded in the same fashion, between shows in Europe. “We were touring a lot,” bassist John Paul Jones wrote in the liner notes to the Led Zeppelin boxed set.

“Jimmy’s riffs were coming fast and furious. A lot of them came from onstage especially during the long improvised section of ‘Dazed and Confused.’ We’d remember the good stuff and dart into a studio along the way.”

John Paul Jones’s bass guitar

“Ramble On” is an early example of the Zeppelin hallmark of using a wide dynamic range within a single song. As the band goes back and forth between soft and loud, acoustic and electric, bassist John Paul Jones lays down a crisp outline of the song’s structure.

John Bonham’s drums

The pitter-patter drumbeat by John Bonham during the quiet parts of “Ramble On” has sparked considerable debate among drummers. Some have theorized that Bonham was hitting the sole of his shoe with drum sticks. Others say it was a plastic garbage can lid.

According to Chris Welch and Geoff Nicholls in John Bonham: A Thunder of Drums, Bonzo used his bare hands to tap out those 16th notes on an empty guitar case.

Robert Plant’s main vocals

The lyrics of “Ramble On” reflect Robert Plant’s fascination with characters and events in The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien: “‘Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor/I met a girl so fair./But Gollum and the evil one crept up/And slipped away with her.”

Led Zeppelin would include more references to Tolkien later, in songs like “Misty Mountain Hop” and “Stairway to Heaven.”

Jimmy Page’s electric rhythm guitar

Jimmy Page’s explosive electric guitar playing kicks in at about the 1:14 mark. The exact guitar used by Page on the recording is a matter of controversy.

He reportedly switched to his trademark Gibson Les Paul while recording Led Zeppelin II, but this track may have been played on the thinner-sounding Fender Telecaster he had been using since his days with the Yardbirds.

Jimmy Page’s electric lead guitar

Like all the band’s albums, Led Zeppelin II was produced by Page. Although he eventually became known for building up complex layers of guitar tracks, Page kept the lead guitar overdubs for “Ramble On” fairly simple.

Robert Plant’s backup vocals

Plant’s supplementary vocals begin at about the 1:14 mark. Plant would later say that the recording of the second album was when he began to feel sure of himself within the band. “Led Zeppelin II was very virile,” Plant told Nigel Williamson, author of The Rough Guide to Led Zeppelin.

“That was the album that was going to dictate whether or not we had the staying power and the capacity to stimulate.”

Led Zeppelin II was released in October of 1969 and rose to number one in Great Britain and America. In the four decades since, the album has sold over 12 million copies.

Though it was never released as a single, “Ramble On” was ranked #444 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

VIDEO: The Evolution of the Rock Guitar Solo: 28 Solos, Spanning 50 Years, Played in 6 Fun Minutes

by , Open Culture: 

In this fun new video from CDZA, guitarist Mark Sidney Johnson takes us on an entertaining romp through more than fifty years of the rock guitar solo, from Chuck Berry to John Mayer.

Along the way Johnson rips through a succession of famous riffs and solos by Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen, Slash ... and those are only a few from the first half of the video.

Johnson is an English multi-instrumentalist and songwriter based in New York. He works regularly as a session guitarist and plays with The Brit Pack as well as the experimental music video group CDZA, short for Collective Cadenza.

For more examples of their offbeat and innovative work, visit the CDZA Web site.
via That Eric Alper

Monday, October 14, 2013

VIDEOS: John Bonham’s Isolated Drum Track For Led Zeppelin’s ‘Fool in the Rain’

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/04/john_bonhams_isolated_drum_track_for_led_zeppelins_fool_in_the_rain.html

His playing was as loud as thunder and as fast as lightning. John Bonham of Led Zeppelin was arguably the greatest of rock-and-roll drummers.

When Rolling Stone asked its readers in 2011 to name the greatest drummer of all time, Bonham won by a landslide. Drummerworld says of his playing:

Imitators are usually left frustrated, since Bonham made it look so easy–not only in his playing but also in the incredible drum sound he achieved. His legendary right foot (on his bass pedal) and lightning-fast triplets were his instant trademark. He later refined his style from the hard skin-bashing approach to a more delicate wrist-controlled one - which produced an even more powerful and louder sound with less effort.

Bonham’s later playing is on display in this isolated drum track (above) from “Fool in the Rain,” a single from the 1979 album In Through the Out Door, the last album released by Zeppelin before Bonham’s death in 1980.

The recording above includes about one-third of the entire drum track, ending just before the samba-style breakdown in the middle.

Bonham is playing a variant of the half-time Purdie Shuffle, a pattern developed by the legendary session drummer Bernard Purdie, who began playing it when he was a youngster trying to imitate the dynamics of a train.

“The way a locomotive kind of pushes and pulls,” Purdie said in a 2011 MusicRadar interview, “that’s what I was feeling.”

Variations of the Purdie Shuffle can be heard across popular music. Purdie himself played it on Steely Dan’s “Home at Last.” More recently, Death Cab for Cutie’s Jason McGerr played it on “Grapevine Fires.”

Perhaps the most famous variation is the so-called “Rosanna Shuffle” played by the late Jeff Porcaro of Toto on the single “Rosanna,” which blended elements of Purdie’s original shuffle, Bonham’s “Fool in the Rain” pattern and the Bo Diddley Beat.

For more on Bernard Purdie and his trademark shuffle, see the 2009 video below from the New York Times.

In the accompanying article, David Segal writes: “Created with six bass, high-hat and snare tones, the Purdie Shuffle is a groove that seems to spin in concentric circles as it lopes forward. The result is a Tilt-a-Whirl of sound, and if you can listen without shaking your hips, you should probably see a doctor.”

via That Eric Alper

Saturday, October 12, 2013

VIDEOS: Animated Interview - The Great Ray Charles on Being Himself and Singing True

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/10/animated-interview-the-great-ray-charles-on-being-himself-and-singing-true.html

“You know,” says Ray Charles in this new animated interview from Blank on Blank, “what I got to live up to is being myself. If I do that the rest will take care of itself.”

Charles always sounded like no one else. When he played or sang just a few notes, you would immediately recognize his distinctive sound, that unique blending of gospel and blues.

As he explains in the interview, his style was a direct reflection of who he was. “I can’t help what I sound like,” he says. “What I sound like is what I am, you know? I cannot be anything other than what I am.”

Blank on Blank is a project that brings lost interviews with famous cultural figures back to life. The Charles video is the 12th episode in Blank on Blank’s ongoing series with PBS Digital Studios.

The audio of Charles is from the Joe Smith Collection at the Library of Congress. Smith is a former record company executive who recorded over 200 interviews with music industry icons for his book Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music.

He talked with Charles on June 3, 1987, when the musician was 56 years old. You can hear the complete, unedited interview at the Library of Congress Web site.

In the interview, Charles says that being true to himself was a night-by-night thing. “I don’t sing ‘Georgia’ like the record. I sing it true,” he says. “I sing what I sing true. Each night I sing it the way I feel that night.”

For an example of Charles being true to himself, here he is performing “Georgia On My Mind” on the Dick Cavett Show on September 18, 1972:

Friday, October 11, 2013

NEWS: Santana, Hendrix, Dead Top Q4 Discs

Cover of "Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles: L...
Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles: Live!
by , Psychedelic Sight: http://psychedelicsight.com/record-roundup-q4-13/

Re-releases and originals from Santana, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Grateful Dead and the Velvet Underground light up the year’s final quarter.

Santana devotees can cheer the return of “Lotus,” a three-LP live set recorded in Japan in 1973.

The music is mostly instrumental, keyed by a legendary 16-minute “Incident at Neshabur.” “Lotus” long was a sought-after import, initially released as a triple-LP set out of Japan (1974).

Friday Music, which has been rereleasing Santana albums on audiophile vinyl, seeks to re-create “Lotus’” ambitious multilevel foldout cover, with psychedelic iconography inspired by Carlos Santana’s spiritual pursuits.

The original on-site recording was done by the Japanese audio wizards from Sony, with mastering for the new LPs done by Joe Reagoso. They’re pressed onto 180 gram vinyl. The set, due Nov. 19, goes for about $50 and is limited (read more about the Santana “Lotus” vinyl re-release).

Also from Friday are “Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles Live” (Nov. 5) recorded in a volcano in Hawaii in 1972, and a re-do of the old “Santana Greatest Hits,” which cherry-picked the first two albums (Oct. 29).

Columbia, the original Santana label, has a 180 gram version of the band’s seventh album, “Amigos,” on Oct. 29.

The Grateful Dead’s 2013 Dave’s Picks series wraps with “Volume 8: Fox Theatre, Atlanta, Ga., 11/30/80.” The show, which comes early in the Brent Mydland era, kicks off with nine-plus minutes of “Feel Like a Stranger,” from that year’s “Go the Heaven” album.

The fan favorite seems to be the set 2 openers: “Scarlet Begonias” fading into “Fire on the Mountain” for a total 23 minutes. Other peaks are “Loser,” an electric “Cassidy” and “Bird Song,” an unusual “Deal,” and “The Wheel”/”China Doll” combo with a unifying jam.

The three hours of “11/30/80″ are spread across three compact discs with the release limited to 13,000 numbered sets. Shipping date is set for Nov. 1.

Archivist David Lemieux calls “11/30/80″ “a really magical” concert that was “one of the best shows of 1980, and that’s saying a lot.”

He says it’s a maxtrix tape, with the soundboard recording synched with an ace audience tape - “just enough to bring the board tape to life” with audience reactions (the taper was Bob Wagner; you can read more about the Fox recordings in an excellent 2012 Dead piece in the New Yorker).

The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s two-set gig at the Miami Pop Festival of 1968 finally sees official release, in various audio formats from Sony Legacy. There is a 200 gram vinyl version that comes numbered and limited. Bernie Grundman did the analog mastering for the double LP version.

Longtime Hendrix engineer Eddie Kramer handled the on-site recording at Gulfstream Park for the May 18, 1968, shows. The Experience delivered its first recorded performances of “Hear My Train A Comin’” and “Tax Free,” along with the usual Experience favorites.

Clips from the Miami appearances will be featured in the new video documentary “Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’” to be shown Nov. 5 on PBS’s “American Masters” day and date with a Blu-ray/DVD release and CD soundtrack. Read more about the two Hendrix projects, which wrap his 70th year celebration.

The Strawberry Alarm Clock is rewound by Sundazed for a trio of 180 gram vinyl releases on Oct. 22: “Wake Up … It’s Tomorrow” was the L.A. band’s second LP (1968), with self-penned songs including “Sit With the Guru” and “Pretty Song from Psych-Out.”

The third SAC album, “The World in a Shell” (1968), was the swan song for the classic SAC lineup, with “Wooden Woman” and “Barefoot in Baltimore” among the favorites.

Outside writers worked most of side 1; the band did its thing on side 2 (the Strawberry Alarm Clock re-formed years later and thrives to this day).

Sundazed also has the 1970 “Best of Strawberry Alarm Clock” kicked off by “Incense and Peppermints” and “Tomorrow.” The reissue specialists say the three SAC vinyl albums were mastered from Universal Records’ stereo reels.

The Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat” comes screaming back in a 45th anniversary CD and vinyl edition Dec. 3. The proto-punk band’s second album was recorded in the summer of 1967 and released the following year.

It’s presented in stereo and mono versions. Lou Reed and John Cale were aboard for development of Universal Records’ $100 box set, which includes 30 tracks. Check Sonic Youth’s DNA for traces of the epic “Sister Ray,” an early descent into drone and noise-rock.

Along with the alternate takes and such, there’s a disc dedicated to the Velvets’ complete show at The Gymnasium in New York recorded in April 1967, “which includes five previously unreleased performances culled from John Cale’s personal copy.” Universal also plans a Blu-ray Audio version of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” (TBA).

Jethro Tull’s 1970 “Benefit” returns in a three-digital disc “Collector’s Edition” with new 5.1 (DVD Audio) and stereo mixes of the album. Disc 2 has “rare tracks and singles recorded around the same time as ‘Benefit.’”

The DVD (audio only) includes the album in its U.S. and U.K. versions as well as the bonus tracks, all in 5.1 lossless. No fewer than eight takes of “Teacher.” New mixes by Steven Wilson were “approved by Ian Anderson.” Oct. 29 via WEA.

King Crimson’s “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic” is due Oct. 22 on 200 gram vinyl, from Discipline Global Mobile. The fifth studio album by the U.K. prog outfit introduced former Yes man Bill Bruford on drums. King Crimson plans to tour again in 2014, leader Robert Fripp says.

There’s conflicting information, but King Crimson’s massive “Road to Red” box set - 16 concerts from 1974 across 21 CDs plus the remastered “Red” album - boasts a release date of Oct. 22.

Several Blu-ray and DVD audio discs in there somewhere. Panegyric also lists an Oct. 14/Oct. 22 re-release of the band’s 1975 “USA” album in a CD/DVD Audio combo pack.

Yes’ “Close to the Edge” gets separate Blu-ray and DVD Audio rereleases Oct. 29. Two discs, from Panegyric. Additional tracks and new stereo/surround mixes.

Emerson Lake & Palmer served up “Brain Salad Surgery” as the fourth studio LP in 1973. Trip out to the H. R. Giger cover whilst listening to the sidelong “Karn Evil 9.” Includes “Still … You Turn Me On.” On vinyl Nov. 11 from Razor & Tie.

Todd Rundgren stirred up a potent brew of prog, psychedelic rock and pop on the double-album “Todd” from 1974.

It was a worthy successor to “A Wizard a True Star,” strange and synth-heavy, but with several straight-ahead Rundgren favorites, including “A Dream Goes on Forever” and “The Last Ride.” Friday Music rekindles the sparks Oct. 29 on 180 gram vinyl.

Deep Purple’s post-psychedelic success is recounted on the “Audio Fidelity Collection” of 24k gold CDs, due Nov. 15. Head-banging a plenty on complete versions of “In Rock,” “Machine Head,” “Fireball” and “Who Do We Think We Are.”

Steppenwolf’s elusive debut album on hybrid SACD has yet another release date, Oct. 22, from Analogue Productions. The vinyl is already out.

Captain Beefheart’s “Safe as Milk” returns Oct. 9, also via Sundazed, in a mono version on CD and vinyl. The reheated “Milk” comes with the original Richard Perry mono mix, not the botched version created by the Captain’s label.

“Authoritative new liner notes” by Rolling Stone old-weird record specialist David Fricke, who writes: “‘Safe As Milk’ was so far in it was out.”

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s sensational series of blues-rock albums is boiled down on “Golden Butter: The Best Of” with two 180 gram LPs from Friday Music. Tracks include the raga-rock mindblower “East-West” and stoner’s delight “In My Own Dream” (compilation originally on Elektra).

Van Morrison isn’t thrilled, of course, but Warner has a five-disc retelling of “Moondance” set for Oct. 22. The set contains four CDs and a Blu-ray version of the album with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio.

Much of the Warner Music box set is dedicated to multiple studio takes of songs from the 1970 album. For those not in need of six takes of “Caravan” or “Brand New Day,” Warner is offering an “expanded edition” with two CDs (read more about the new “Moondance” set and Morrison’s reaction).

For Halloween, we have Franz Waxman’s “The Bride Of Frankenstein Soundtrack” on colored vinyl (Music On Vinyl, Oct. 22).

Also of interest: Nick Drake’s “Five Leaves Left” on a single LP (Oct. 29); Leslie West’s “Still Climbing” on vinyl (Oct. 29); Ten Years After “Recorded Live” and Robin Trower’s “State to State: Live Across America,” both on two CDs (Oct. 22); and the Association’s “Greatest Hits” on 180 gram (Oct. 29).

And, Paul McCartney’s “New” (Oct. 22); the Beatles “Live at the BBC” and “Volume 2″ (Nov. 11); Yoko Ono’s “Take Me to the Land of Hell” (Oct. 15); the Stones’ “Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live” (Blu-ray, etc., Nov. 11).

From the trippy side of jazz we have John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension’s “Now Hear This” (Oct. 15) and Herbie Hancock’s “Headhunters” (numbered, limited, Oct. 18).

To be announced: Signals from the mysterious planet of TBA presage the eventual arrival of Donovan’s “Barabajagal” (Music on Vinyl); the first two Chicago albums on hybrid SACD (Mobile Fidelity); and Mike Oldfield’s “Five Miles Out” on colored vinyl (Mercury).

Also TBA on 180 gram vinyl: The Grateful Dead’s “From the Mars Hotel” (Mobile Fidelity); the Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street” (Universal); Stephen Stills’ “Carry On” box set (Music on Vinyl); and the Alan Parsons Project’s “I Robot” (Music on Vinyl).

And TBA’s greatest hit, “Amused to Death” by Roger Waters on vinyl and SACD (Analogue Productions).

Read about the psychedelic music albums released in the third quarter.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

‘Lotus’ Flowers Again: Santana Live Classic

by , Psychedelic Sight: http://psychedelicsight.com/9490-santana-lotus/

Santana 1974 live album Lotus from Japan

Santana fans’ loyalties are rewarded in October and November with a quartet of 180 gram vinyl releases - paced by a 40th anniversary edition of the live adventure “Lotus.”

That triple-disc recording made in the summer of 1973 captures the “Welcome”/”Caravanserai” band (“the New Santana”) in its jazz-rock-fusion glory, performing in Osaka, Japan.

Some critics consider “Lotus” among the best live recordings made in the rock era. Of the dozens of Santana albums, Rolling Stone gives five stars to only two - “Lotus” and “Abraxas.”

“Lotus” long was a sought-after import, initially released as a triple-LP set out of Japan (1974). It featured superb art direction with a multilevel fold-out cover of psychedelic bent, reflecting Carlos Santana’s immersion in spirituality (the set eventually saw release as a double CD in the States, in 1991).

The two recorded shows were mostly instrumental, keyed by a legendary 16-minute take on “Incident at Neshabur.”

The studio album “Abraxas” provides the most songs on “Lotus,” including “Neshabur,” Peter Green’s “Black Magic Woman” and “Samba Pa Ti.”

From “Caravanserai” comes a funkified flirtation with Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Stone Flower” and almost 12 minutes of Michael Shrieve’s “Every Step of the Way.”

Band members are drummer Shrieve, percussionists José “Chepito” and Armando Perez, keyboardist Tom Coster, bassist Doug Rauch and singer Leon Thomas.

The original on-site recording was done by the Japanese audio wizards from Sony, with mastering for the new LPs done by Joe Reagoso. The discs were pressed at Record Technology Inc.

Friday Music says its re-creation of the vinyl “Lotus” includes “the original trifold cover art and the special psychedelic insert artwork … now restored to their full glory.” The set retails for about $50 and bows Nov. 19.

Also due from Carlos Santana’s back pages is his live collaboration with drummer-vocalist Buddy Miles, recorded at a Hawaiian rock festival in early 1972.

“Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles Live” features guitarist Neal Schon and gets an unusual flavor from trumpet and flute. Songs include “Evil Ways,” “Them Changes” and a 25-minute jam. Friday’s single-disc album comes out Nov. 5.

Fusion in the rear view, Santana’s seventh album, “Amigos,” found the bandleader aiming toward a radio-friendly sound, via producer David Rubinson.

“Amigos” yielded a minor hit, “Let it Shine.” Rolling Stone called the album “safe” and “consistent.” Greg Walker and Leon “Ndugu” Chancler are among the players. Columbia’s Speaker’s Corner revives the album on a 180 gram slab Oct. 29.

“Santana’s Greatest Hits” is a misnomer these days - it’s an outdated label packaging job with songs from the first two albums. Friday recycles it nonetheless, Oct. 29.

Other Santana albums already re-released to vinyl via Friday Music are “Moonflower” and “Love Devotion Surrender” with fellow white-suited devotee John McLaughlin (both 180 gram audiophile records). Columbia has a 180 gram version of the Santana-Buddy Miles album as well.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

VIDEO: Best Fall Song: “Indian Summer” by The Doors

The Doors
by The Music Court: http://musiccourtblog.com/2013/10/04/best-fall-song-indian-summer-by-the-doors/

There is nothing quite like the long drawl of hazy hot day in New York … in October.

I wore a pair of blue jeans today, and my legs felt like they were covered in heating pads.

I’m certainly not complaining, as inevitably the icy grasp of winter will soon chill the air and my steering wheel, but I do find weather’s mercurial nature odd.

Since many others do as well, there is a term to describe a string of days like the one New York experienced today: Indian Summer.

In my brief search for best Fall song, I noticed that there are not many great Fall songs. Summer and Winter - the two polar extremes - dominate the music landscape. But seasonal songs are popular, and Fall does have a few good ones.

I listed some in the poll and have chosen one from that list as my personal favorite Fall song, which, as the above paragraph suggests, is “Indian Summer” by The Doors, a subdued track off of the 1970 album, Morrison Hotel. 

The song, like many songs by the Doors, is strange - much like a patch of Indian Summer. The lyric is punctuated by Jim Morrison’s sensual - almost uncomfortable - voice. It’s soothing in a creepy way. Typical Morrison! He sings:

I love you the best
Better than all the rest.
I love you the best
Better than all the rest.
That I meet in the summer.
Indian Summer.
That I meet in the summer.
Indian Summer.
I love you the best
Better than all the rest.

“Indian Summer” has the feel of a song that can drag on forever. It is hypnotizing. It has the feel of a hypnopompic hallucination.

The skilled percussion, plucked guitar, and understated keyboard wakes me up, but Morrison’s voice maintains a lulling quality. In that way, it is almost mystical and ethereal. It is metaphor for an Indian Summer - hazy, drowsy, and unexpected. Excellent stuff.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Keith Richards Waxes Philosophical, Plays Live with His Idol, the Great Muddy Waters

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/05/keith_richards_waxes_philosophical_about_and_plays_live_with_his_idol_the_great_muddy_waters.html

Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters
Cadillac Records - a 2008 biopic about the rise and fall of Chicago’s Chess Records - won acclaim for bravura performances, garnered Beyonce a White House performance and threats of violence from Etta James, and took it on the chin for its deeply muddled history.

But nobody goes to the movies for a history lesson, right?

What stuck with me was its dramatization of that moment (okay, decade) when R&B and “race records” got rebranded by Alan Freed as “Rock n’ Roll” and crossed over the color line.

Hundreds of bands hijacked Chuck Berry’s licks (as he saw it), and then Jagger crashed the party with his Muddy Waters impression while his band took their name from one of his blues songs.

The Stones may not have been the first British band to make American electric blues their own, but they were arguably the most popular.

In an excerpt from a longer interview from 1973, Keith Richards namechecks both Waters and Berry, as well as usual suspects Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Slim Harpo, and the much earlier Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson.

The host pushes Keith on his roots influences and the part of black music in the Stones’ sound, asking if their lack of sentimentalism came from the blues.

Keith replies,“I don’t get sentimental about things because … it doesn’t lead to clarity of thought.” And when I think clarity, I think Keith Richards. But seriously, it’s a gem of an interview.

Asked about how black musicians reacted to his blues appropriation, Richards gets philosophical: “Probably as many different reactions from them as anybody else.”

We know how Chuck Berry felt - robbed - but Keith tells us Waters took it in stride, “grateful” for the introduction to the white college circuit which put more bread in his pocket. Maybe so, but Waters’ crossover before white audiences predated the Stones.

Before the British invaded - two years before the Stones formed - Muddy hit England’s shores in 1958 (one year after Sister Rosetta Tharpe brought her electric blues across the pond).

While the usual belief that Waters’ blues shocked the Brits may be a misconception, he won a new audience on the folk circuit, returning to England in ‘64.

After laying low for a while, Waters saw a career revival late in life, performing into his final years with The Stones, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winters, and his own band. 

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Washington, DC. Follow him @jdmagness
Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, October 3, 2013

VIDEO: 17-Year-Old Joan Baez Performs at Famous “Club 47″ in Cambridge, MA (1958)

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2011/01/joan_baez_70.html

The video above brings you way back (we think) to 1958, when Joan Baez was only 17, to a concert she played at the legendary Club 47 in Cambridge, Mass.

While the teenage ingénue broke onto the folk scene, Bob Dylan was still a student back in Hibbing, Minnesota.

Five years later, Baez introduced Dylan to the music world; the two dated for a while; and then, even while going their separate ways, they put their stamp on the 60s folk scene - a story that gets well documented in the book, Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina.

If you click here, you can watch Baez, now in her prime, perform a complete concert in 1965. The show runs 65 minutes and features 18 songs.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

VIDEO: Syd Barrett - Under Review, a Full Documentary about Pink Floyd’s Brilliant and Troubled Founder

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/09/syd-barrett.html

Syd Barrett was rock and roll’s greatest enigma. Genius, madman, recluse - he was for a short time the brightest star of London’s late-60s psychedelic scene, only to burn out and disappear.

Barrett was an art school student in London when he helped found Pink Floyd in 1965. He gave the band its name, wrote most of its songs and served as guitarist and singer. He led the band to fame in London’s underground subculture.

By 1967 Barrett was taking large quantities of LSD and becoming increasingly unstable. He had always been eccentric, but it soon became clear he was suffering from a serious mental illness.

Onstage he was increasingly catatonic, strumming a single string for an entire show or not playing at all. By the spring of 1968 the rest of Pink Floyd had no choice but to replace Barrett.

They didn’t push him out of the band so much as they simply stopped picking him up and carting him around. He managed to piece together a couple of solo albums before retreating into seclusion, where he remained for the rest of his life.

The documentary Syd Barrett: Under Review (above) was released in early 2006, only a few months before Barrett’s death at the age of 60. The film is billed as “An Independent Critical Analysis.”

As such, it deals less with the more lurid aspects of Barrett’s life and focuses instead on his musical legacy.

The hour-long film rests heavily on interviews with leading British music journalists. It also includes excerpts from concerts, TV appearances and home movies.

For more on Barrett, including filmed performances of “Interstellar Overdrive” and “Astronomy Domine,” see our post, “Psychedelic Scenes of Pink Floyd’s Early Days with Syd Barrett, 1967.”

You can purchase Syd Barrett: Under Review on DVD here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Monkees!

by RetroKimmer: http://www.retrokimmer.com/2013/09/the-monkees.html

The Monkees was a pop-rock quartet created in Los Angeles in 1965 for the American television series The Monkees, which aired from 1965 to 1968. The primary members were Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork, who were the public face of a music production system under the supervision of Don Kirshner.

Had a request from my pal Dave Huff to do a bit on one of his favorites! Davy Jones and the Monkees. I liked the Monkees and loved their silly tv show. Here is the cover of the first album I bought and I think it's their best picture ever (above). 

At the start, the band members provided vocals, and were given some performing and production opportunities, but they eventually fought for and earned the right to collectively supervise all musical output under the band's name. The group undertook several concert tours, allowing an opportunity to perform as a live band as well as on the TV series.

When the show was cancelled in 1968, the band continued releasing records until 1971. In the 1980s, the television show and music experienced a revival, which led to a series of reunion tours, and new records featuring various incarnations of the band's lineup.