Compact music commentary about artifacts new and old: I enthuse, I don't accuse, but I do refuse–to review anything lukewarm or colder!
Music monomaniac, retired English teacher, resident of Columbia, Missouri, former correspondent for ANOREXIC TEENAGE SEX GODS, READY TO SNAP, HITLIST, SUGARBUZZ, THE WAYBACK MACHINE, ROCK THERAPY, and THE FIRST CHURCH OF HOLY ROCK AND ROLL, co-lead singer of the non-legendary Wayne Coomers and the Original Sins of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
An industrious day of exercise, reading, trip-planning, pretending we were on Bourbon Street, and enjoying rain, breeze, and 70-degree weather (it’s been hot here in Misery). But I had enough time to check out two new live recordings from the vaults, capturing two great acts in their late-girlhood, early womanhood.
Nicole and I always wonder, “Why don’t we listen to Bonnie Raitt more?” A great singer and guitarist, a class act, pretty good quality control, a sense of humor–what’s not to love? To some extent, maybe, she’s so damn consistent she’s either a bit boring or taken too often for granted. The above set, recorded on my tenth birthday, finds her delivering a combo of blues and pop covers, most of which eventually found themselves on her early records, with astounding maturity and command. Her guitar playing is still a shade rough, but it’s passionate. All in all, it might be my favorite Raitt recording, because it’s more alive than her studio output.
I have to admit, I’m not a huge Bangles fan. Their terrific debut, All Over the Place, conveyed garage toughness, featured fetching harmonies and melodies, and exhibited neat rock-historic savvy. For me, though, aside from two great singles and one good-plus corny one, it was all downhill from there. I admire this ’86 live set because it puts all the good-to-great stuff in one place, on a decent night, with just a touch of the toughness gone.
Revisited two old YouTube playlists from our faux-NOLA frozen-drink cloud:
One thing I’ve noticed about this listening diary project is it makes me feel too responsible. Specifically, responsible for playing new releases, and even new acquisitions (not the same thing anymore)–sometimes months will pass before I actually slap a mailman’s present on the turntable. The deal is–by this time in a normal year I’d have probably listened to Professor Longhair’s Crawfish Fiesta five times by now, or had a couple-three “Dylan Days” or “Wills Weeks.” I feel like I’ve neglected many time-tested goodies.
Not today. National news got to my ass yesterday, so I needed medicine today–proven medicine.
I thought listening to Marvin Gaye’s evolution might be healing, so I journeyed with him from “How Sweet It Is” through Here, My Dear. Speaking of which, a recent reissue tagged on an extra disc of alternate takes, extended versions, and disco mixes. That usually translates to crap, but in this case, the alternates, arrayed in the same running order as the official version, is superior–more grooveful, more funky, and better balanced against the subject matter (divorce). It was good to me!
Good to me? The way to keep that buzz going? O-T-I-S! Stacked up the fantastic Dictionary of Soul, the underrated duet album with Carla Thomas (they were never in the studio at the same time, BTW), and a cherry-picked Dock of the Bay, with this deep-cut fave:
They say two martinis are perfect, no need for a third. Not true with a soul record shakedown, but I needed a little mescaline in my grits, so I moved on to my three favorite Funkadelic albums, Let’s Take It To The Stage, the accurately-titled Hardcore Jollies, and, of course, One Nation Under a Groove. In some ways, the group’s extraterrestrial/subterrestrial (get me?) fusion was even more of a balm than Marvin’s yearning and Otis’ good cheer–I was reminded that, as Hunter Thompson wrote, “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Evidence?
(I used to skip this song; now, I never miss it)
(Even more righteous 40 years later!)
At present I’m rolling behind some Curtis Mayfield pickin’ and persuadin’, specifically We’re a Winner and The Fabulous Impressions, which features the incandescent “Isle of the Sirens,” simultaneously the greatest pop song ever written about The Odyssey and one of Mayfield’s greatest patented encouragements to The Movement:
It felt so good to be irresponsible today. I think I’ll make a week of it.
I finished Chris Weingarten’s 33 1/3 series venture upon PE’s Nation of Millions. 4.3 outta 5: consistently interesting, witty a bit more than intermittently, and, most important, informative. You’ll learn much about the construction, contents, and context of the record, including a bounty of detail about records sampled and simply influential. In case you decide to read it, here’s a completed musical companion–you’ll be delighted and surprised. Put ‘er on shuffle for best results!
I don’t have much to say. The national scene is so ugly I actually thought today, “What if two years from now I look back and say, ‘This is when it started’?” I also took a second to reflect on Tim Snyder’s 20 lessons (about totalitarianism) from the 20th century, and you can draw a line through quite a few here in the USA…he didn’t even really mentioning taking children from “the other” and stashing them away. Then, I read about civil rights being struck from high school history books in Michigan–and the current administration leaving the UN Human Rights Council (what–a bit over a week after mugging around with and flatteting a full-blown totalitarian dictator?). It’s fucking depressing, I couldn’t focus on reading, and for the most part didn’t even want to listen to music. Ever felt that way?
Anyway, some exceptions.
Poolside during 10:45-11:45 am “adult swim” (not as great as the man’s sessions w/Sonny Clark, but loosey-goosier):
Fighting off full-on rage with a new purchase of an old record that fits the moment damn well:
Celebrating Juneteenth in my head (Peter Stampfel is always good for joy in the face of the void):
And celebrating my friend David’s 71st birthday in his classical music lair:
Also discussed in the lair (over Moscow Mules and gage): Korn…or gold?
Good night. May tomorrow bring some justice.
P. S. Piano man at Murry’s? That was a DAMN fine “Jitterbug Waltz”!
On our way up Arkansas 62 to Missouri 37, trying to figure out what Carter Family tune purloined the melody from Dick Justice’s “Henry Lee”:
Roaring up I-44, trying to keep Nicole awake, I sprung something on her that she’d gotten a few seconds’ earful of Saturday. I am not unerring in matching new stuff with her very refined taste:
Response: “My face hurts!”
Staying revved on MO-5, -54, -63, and I-70, with iced tea, Redmon’s candy, and selections from such illustrious releases as Wanna Buy A Bridge?, 1977 Roxy London Live, Dangerhouse Complete Singles, The Best Punk Rock Album in the World Ever, and Rhino’s D.I.Y. series–a yell-along, slap-yer-dashboard, punk-rock party:
Since I’m on va-cay and out of pocket, I’m departing from my newly-established Sunday ritual of Spotifying the week’s listening and sharing another project I’m working on that might benefit and enlighten you and me.
I’m two chapters into Chris Weingarten’s so-far stellar 33 1/3 offering on Public Enemy’s Nation of Millions. I’ve read a passel of ’em; this is vying for my favorite, though it’s perhaps a shade too glib and overwritten. One neat thing Weingarten does is focus on the construction process behind a highly constructed album that, due to the profusion of samples the Bomb Squad layered in, couldn’t conceivably be made today, even by a moneybags like Jay Z.
What I decided to do was, chapter by chapter, include all the sample sources, influential tracks, and highlights in a YouTube playlist as a reading supplement. Needless to say, it’s under construction, but it’s already 29 tracks deep and is enjoyable independent of the book.
A long time ago, before this blog existed (for the most part) and before Podcast World exploded, I often created podcasts for Hickman High School’s radio station. Before I knew it, I’d made 75! Here are a few of the later ones; they are not slick, but they are heartfelt, they should exhibit reasonable expertise, and I sure had fun doing them (listen for ice tinkling in a glass). Let me know if you like them.
Another Podcast from the “Rock Therapy” Archives:
A fun African music podcast I once made for my wife’s students, who were learning African geography!
King Sunny Ade, leading off…
“Dedicated to Columbia (MO) Hickman High School’s Academy of Rock: Let Them Do Their Thing!”
EPISODE THREE OF THE ROCK THERAPY REBOOT!
Intro–The Rock and Roll Trio: Segment from “Rock Therapy”
Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat: “Haterz”
Company Freak: “Theme from Company Freak”
Obnox: “How to Rob”
Wussy: “Teenage Wasteland”
Miranda Lambert: “Platinum”
Geeshie Wiley: “Last Kind Words”
Off!: “Jeffrey Lee Pierce”
The Gun Club: “The Fire of Love”
Raw Spitt: “Songs to Sing”
Bassekou Kouyate: “Jama Ko”
The Hot 8 Brass Band: “Let Me Do My Thing”
Latyryx: “Every Man for Himself”
Neneh Cherry (featuring Robyn): “Out of the Black”
Natural Child: “Don’t the Time Pass Quickly?”
Keith Frank (featuring Lil’ Boosie): “Haterz” (original version)
Outro–The Rock and Roll Trio: Segment from “Rock Therapy”
“Texas Me: Rib-Stickings from a 2,100-Mile Drive Into Texas”
EPISODE TWO OF THE ROCK THERAPY REBOOT!
Another Podcast from the “Rock Therapy” Archives: REGGAE TAKE OVER!
Folks, it’s getting hot, and I don’t know about you, but when the mercury’s about to explode out of the thermometer, I like to be comforted by some music from where that’s just natural. So, ladies and gentlemen, let “Reggae Take Over”….
NEW! “Cakewalk in No Man’s Land: The Return of ROCK THERAPY,” featuring the music of Allen Lowe, Wussy, Anita O’Day, Neneh Cherry, Ronnie Barron, and many more.
Allen Lowe in the lab (click on the image to visit his website)
Rock Therapy Podcasts from the Vaults
REMEMBERING THE POPE OF MEMPHIS MUSIC, JIM DICKINSON
Put this podcast together shortly after Dickinson passed on August 15, 2009. Though he’s better known as a producer (of Alex Chilton, The Replacements, Barrence Whitfield, and scads of others) and player (as a member of the Dixie Flyers and with the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan), he made some great rekkids under his own name and with his own bands. Many of those are highlighted here:
(Unfortunately, the link above is to a download only and not to streaming–I’m working on it):
Explore the world of taking other folks’ masterpieces and making them one’s own. A banquet of recontextualizations and reimaginings!
Spring is here–and it’s time for some euphony courtesy of the jazz saxophone. Enjoy this podcast from the Rock Therapy archives!
Happy Mardi Gras, y’all! I offer a podcast from the vaults of Rock Therapy, dedicated to the special jubilation produced only in the Crescent City!
ROCK AND ROLL GUMBO! NEW ORLEANS ON FYAH!
For many years, as part of my duties as the sponsor of David H. Hickman High School’s Academy of Rock, I created not-exactly-hi-fi podcasts–sometimes thematic, sometimes a funhouse random play of my passions du jour–for the kiddies to use to get their learn on. A little over a year ago, our free server flitted back off into cyberspace, so I suspended my activities, but as I get this blog booted up, I think it might be appropriate to share some of the best of the batch. Here’s “Big Cheeseburgers and Good French Fries: The Return of Rock Therapy.”
The the ghost of my 14th year visited unexpectedly again today. After a trip to Nevada with Nicole and my parents to visit the Bushwackers Museum (interesting, but apologetic of those dang Confederates and cruel and unusual punishment) and check out a Mexican restaurant (Los Sauces–they will roast your stuffed peppers), we returned to Monett and surfed for a good movie we’d all like. We landed on Dazed and Confused, which my parents hadn’t seen but we’d seen multiple times. I’d even screened it for high school classes (a mighty fine resistance theme) and my 30th high school reunion (very, very accurate portrayal of our experience, minus the Texas fixins). I wasn’t immediately aware of it until we were 20 minutes into the film, but, just as I was 14 when I first heard “Night Moves” (see yesterday’s post), I was Wiley Wiggins’ character Mitch’s age during that bicentennial year.
So what? Every time I see this great film I have a new personal epiphany. This time, it occurred to me that the pitch-perfect soundtrack toggles between songs that (for me, at least) triggered emotional and even physical liberation (like “Free Ride” and “Cherry Bomb”), and songs that seemed to portend social intimidation and anxiety (like “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Paranoid,” and “Stranglehold). They weren’t (aren’t) guilty pleasures; they captured what particularly small-town high school life was like to navigate. I did get physically intimidated like Mitch and his friends (chipped: punched in the chest); I didn’t really have an upperclassmen take me under his wing. I did escape joyfully into headphones and cold sixers; I didn’t ever figure out how to be cool and withhold my enthusiasm. I most definitely let it all hang out, screaming out car windows to an Alice song, but I never found the philosophers. 9th grade was frustrating, and social hierarchies, sexual game theory, and indifferent, often hostile adults had a lot to do with it.
I wish I could say I got the best of an O’Bannion. The closest I came was joining with my fellow jv football captain Shawn an organizing a practice walk-out, aimed at our coaches and the varsity team, who demanded we go full scrimmage the day after we returned home at 3 a.m. after an overtime loss and bus issues. In general, my actual experience supported Randall “Pink” Floyd’s vow never to call high school the best years of his life.
Tonight’s Five Crown soundtrack provided by Errol Garner, Johnny Hartman, Fats Waller, and Anita O’Day.