Friday, August 7, 2020

"Q": The Weekend Mix

Quadriglia Alla Siciliana- Vincenzo Adamo
Questions 67 & 68- Chicago
Quadrophenia- The Who
Quite Rightly So- Procol Harum
Quicksilver Girl- Steve Miller Band
Queen Of Hearts- Dave Edmunds
Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces- The Jayhawks
Question Mark- Billy Nicholls
Quando Quando Quando- Rico Rodriguez
Que's Dilemma- Ike Quebec
Queen Bee- Taj Mahal
Question Of U- Prince
Queen Jane Approximately- Bob Dylan
Quit This Town- Eddie & The Hot Rods
Queenie Eye- Paul McCartney
Quiche Lorraine- the B52's
Queen Of My School- The Lemon Twigs
Qualified- Dr. John
Quicksand- Martha & The Vandellas
Queen Bitch- The Hotrats


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Play Squeeze "Play"

"Play" is the lost Squeeze masterpiece.

In short, the band was dropped by A&M and picked up by Warner Bros. Difford and Tilbrook deliver the most mature and realized songs of their career. WB wants "Cool For Cats." “Play” comes out in July of 1991. Warner/Reprise drops Squeeze in October of 1991. "Play" sinks without a trace. Well, at least this is how Chris Difford tells it in his memoir, "Some Fantastic Place," and it's difficult to argue.

Chris Difford's lyrics have always been mini-dramas, many hidden underneath Tilbrook's upbeat melodies and the band's energetic arrangements. But on "Play," the music seems to have grown up into his stories. It's a record, like other favorites of mine, including "The Who Sell Out," that has so much going on, it bears repeated spins, with each play revealing something more brilliant than before.

The opening cut "Satisfied" feels like "Tempted," but with a  more melancholy vibe. Both "Letting Go" and "The Truth" are as strong anything the band has released prior. Both sound like Squeeze, yet those songs, like most of "Play" doesn't really feel like Squeeze. It's as if the band got smarter but forgot to tell us.

Chris Difford wears his heart on both sleeves here, to quote another favorite songwriter of mine. It's not all heavy, but I do think it's the heaviness that makes "Play" something special. This is a record that I play more than any other by the band, and in some ways, I believe it is where Difford and Tilbrook peaked, with all due respect to "Argybargy" and "East Side Story."

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Dylan Goes Punk

What we have here is a clip of Bob Dylan performing "Jokerman" on the David Letterman show in 1984. I recall watching the show but not realizing at the time that his backing band was none other than one of my favorite punk bands, The Plugz, who I have written about a number of times on these pages.

The Plugz were from East L.A. and featured Charlie Quintana on drums, who went on to play with John Doe, The Havalinas, The Plimsouls and Izzy Stradlin's JuJu Hounds. Sadly, he passed away in 2018. On bass was Barry McBride for the first album and Gustavo Santaolalla for the second. The Plugz were led by Tito Larriva, who wrote the songs, played guitar and sang lead. Larriva went on to form Tito & Tarantula, as well as becoming an actor, appearing most notably in a bunch of Robert Rodriguez films, among others. For the Dylan performance, it appears that Larriva is on bass and Santaolalla is on guitar.

I have sung high praise for both Plugz records before and I'll quickly say again, they are worth your time. It's a special kind of punk that takes many turns and the secret weapon is Larriva's songwriting.

But that's not why I am here.

Singer-songwriter Daniel Romano was also taken by The Plugz backing Dylan that he decided to record the entire "Infidels" record with his band Daniel Romano's Outfit, in the style of The Plugz. The record is cleverly titled "Daniel Romano's Outfit Do (What Could Have Been) Infidels by Bob Dylan & The Plugz."

It's a brilliant idea and it really works. This is not to say "Infidels" needed a change. I think "Infidels" is a fantastic record, ranking pretty high on my Dylan list. But as a change of pace, this one is whole lotta fun and kinda brilliant.

You can, and you should, as my pal Steve Simels likes to say over at his place Power Pop, get Daniel Romano's Outfit over HERE.

(h/t hpunch)

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Long & Short Of The New Pretenders and Rufus Wainwright Records

I was so turned off by what Dan Auerbach did to "Alone," only to be put off even further with that cringe-making solo covers record from Miss Hynde two years later, I thought I'd never listen to another Pretenders record again.  But then "Hate For Sale" arrived and I found out that the entire record, all 30 minutes of it, was co-written by guitarist James Walbourne, who is also the co-leader of one of my favorite acts The Rails. Some "back to basics, old-school, Chrissie's back" type reviews later, and I went in. And then I went in again. And then again...because it just wasn't taking.

The best thing about "Hate For Sale" is its running time and I don't mean that in a bad way. The songs do indeed sound like vintage Pretenders, but only a few, like "The Buzz," "You Can't Hurt A Fool" and "I Didn't Want To Be This Lonely" are truly memorable. The others seem to fly by in a "the one that sounds like 'Precious,' and the one that sounds like 'Private Life'" kind of way. It could be worse. It could be "Packed." But I do think the raves are a bit much. "Hate For Sale" is just fine. 6/10

It's been eight years since Rufus Wainwright released a conventional...for Rufus Wainwright...pop album. I know many are either in or out regarding Rufus, citing difficulty with his voice. I've been in since his brilliant 1997 debut, though admittedly jumped off the train after one too many sonnets.

Now with the release of "Unfollow The Rules," a strong return to form, both he and I, are back.  There's no denying Rufus Wainwright's ability to write a melody. Whether an uplifting ode to joy, or mournful hymn, Wainwright's melodies always pack an emotional wallop, thanks to the stellar harmonies or sweeping strings he seems to utilize so effectively. "Unfollow The Rules" has it all, at times reminding me of both classic Elton and Freddie Mercury.

But if the length of the new Pretenders album is an asset, the length of the new Rufus is a handicap. At 52 minutes, "Unfollow The Rules" could use a trim. "You Ain't Big" is a bit of a toss-off, and at 2:36, it doesn't help by either staying or going. The record begins to drag on the last third, though that last third does feature "Hatred," with sister Martha Wainwright on vocals and that track is a winner. "Unfollow The Rules" is a big record, with enough pop sense and record making for a small country. And if you've been a fan, this new one should not disappoint.  8/10

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Songs Of The Week, 2020: 7/25-7/31

Tell Moses- Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle
I Don't Want To Cry- Tony & Dennis
No Time To Lose- Earth & Stone
Teen Town-  Weather Report
Bosco Stomp- Octa Clark & Hector Duhon
Now We're Getting Somewhere- Crowded House
When I'm President- Ian Hunter & The Rant Band


Tell Moses- Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle
This collaboration from Shawn and Steve is a grower. It didn't kill me at first and some of the covers still don't. But I think the original tunes are terrific.

I Don't Want To Cry- Tony & Dennis
No Time To Lose- Earth & Stone
There are literally hundreds of Trojan Records compilations. LPs, CDs, boxed sets, 3 CD sets, 10 LP sets, themed boxes, roots, ska, "boss," etc. I never realized just how musically valuable they all were until I tried to buy individual records by the artists that struck a chord. These two tracks shuffled up on different days from some of those boxed sets and I love both. Both impossible to find outside of the aforementioned Trojan compilations. Some of these singles never got beyond test pressings. Hope ya dig-em a little bit.

Teen Town- Weather Report
This came to me after the fact, another perfect example for this week's post about who plays what. Bassist extraordinaire Jaco Pastorius wrote this tune for the "Heavy Weather" record and it has since become his signature song. The bass playing is insanely good, but so is the drumming, which is also JACO!

Bosco Stomp- Octa Clark & Hector Duhon
This was a nice breath of fresh air during an iPod shuffle marathon and I am hoping it does the same here.

Now We're Getting Somewhere- Crowded House
The feel good tune of 1987! (Well, I thought so.) The first song I heard from the band, not knowing it was Neil Finn of Split Enz. I was a fan of The Enz, but it was this song that made me a Neil fan forever. And it is pretty damn uplifting!

When I'm President- Ian Hunter & The Rant Band
And speaking of uplifting...the man, the legend and a late career mini-masterpiece.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Now That's A Cover

"Man, do I need this band right now!"

- Sal's Friend



Anyway, the full length from The Jaded Hearts Club is available for pre-order with a release date of October 2nd. Get it HERE.