In all my years of reading this blog, the only thing that has puzzled me more than Sal's unbridled love for everything Rundgren is that title. Really, what the hell does it mean? I've parsed the words. I've re-arranged them. I've climbed mountains to ask lonely mystics. Nobody can figure it out. I'd try Sal, now that we have him bound and gagged like Bobby Seale, but all he does is curse me out when we remove the tape from his mouth.
But the concept of asking a mystic reminds me of a joke -- in fact, my father's favorite joke (other than his theories about the sanctity of marriage). Here's the joke: A guy wants to know the secret of life. He's desperate. Someone tells him there's a guru up on the top of a mountain near Everest who knows the secret of life. So the guy buys all the gear; he trains for months; he arranges for a team to lead him there. Finally, it's warm enough to hike up the mountain. It's a brutal climb but after untold physical exertion and stress, they finally make it to the top where they spot the guru's tent. The guy walks in and says, "Swami [or Sir, or your Holyness, Sadie, whatever gurus are called], "I've been on this journey for months; I've made untold sacrifices to come up here to learn from you, what is the secret of life?"
The guru says, "Life, my son, is a fountain."
The guy is furious, "That's it? After all this time and money I spend, all you have to say is "life is a fountain'"?
And the guru looks at him quizzically and asks, "You mean life isn't a fountain?"
You want to hear Groucho Marx's favorite joke? A guy walks into a pharmacy and asks the guy behind the counter, "Where's the talcum powder?"
The clerk says, "Walk this way."
The customer says, "If I could walk that way, I wouldn't need the talcum powder."
Ok, onto a few reviews.
When I heard the first volume of She and Him, I was in pop heaven. The tunes were a '60s and '70s delight. The combination of Zooey Deschanel's writing and singing and M. Ward's production made that record not only my favorite of the year but one of my all-time pop albums.
Then the next one came out, and it was ok. Actually on its own merits, it was very good but judged against their previous effort, it was a monumental disappointment.
And now Volume 3 is about to be released. What can I say. It's a good record. It's not the worst thing I've heard all year. There are some good tunes on it, but judged against Volume 1or even Volume 2, it kind of stinks. It's not out yet but as an insider in the biz and a top reviewer, I've had access to it. Here's the first cut, which I liked better on the third listen.
So what do I like that I've recently discovered (but not necessarily newly released)? I mean nobody ever really asks me that question, and for good reason: I don't know shit about music (but more about the Hiss case than anyone in the whole world), except now that we've kidnapped Sal and I have control of the blog, I get to say what I do like (or don't), and in my defense I do have a vague sense of what sounds pleasing that often proves to be correct.
Here are a few recent albums that I've really come to enjoy:
Jude Davison is a British guy whose friend died and left behind a drawer full of lyrics. Davison turned them into songs, wonderful Americana and the results are brilliant. In fact, next to Freeman Dre and the Kitchen Party's second album (see yesterday's song of the day), Davison might have produced my album of the year (even though it came out last year). Here's a taste.
I happened across Joel Rafael on a blog post. Apparently, he's been around forever. He's buddies with David Crosby and that LA crowd but it turns out that not only does he write pretty good songs, he can put them across too. He also has a political conscience. I like that (our next blog post will cover the Hiss case, please bring your pencils and notebooks tomorrow). Here's the the title cut of his album, "America Come Home."
Here's another big fave that isn't off the player very long. The group is called The Belleville Outfit. They play a little Django; they play a little Americana. Whatever they play, it's great. Really great. For example, from their album "Wanderin'" here's "Caroline":
Carla Olson has put out an album of duets. It's called "Have Harmony, Will Travel"). I love the selection (lots of Byrds and Byrdish stuff), and I love her singing partners (Juice Newton, Peter Case, Scott Kempner). The only problem is on most of the cuts you can barely hear Carla Olson. Still, I'm loving it, especially this classic with one of my all-time faves, Richie Furay:
I could go on forever with all these great discoveries but let me hit you with just a few more and then I'll go back to work solving the Hiss case (I do have a job, you know, outside of kidnapping bloggers).
I love Chicago's blues as much as I love its pizza and its Studs Terkel. Andy T. and Nick Nixon are great practitioners. Give their album "Drink, Drank Drunk" a listen. Then, when you'are in the mood for more, listen to John Primer and Bob Corritore's "Knockin' Around the Blues." Then, when you want even more, it turns out that Muddy Waters could fill Wrigley Field with his blues playing progeny. Sal and I nearly came to blows over the merits of one of his progeny, Mud Morganfield, who sounds a lot like the old man. I love Mud. Here's a cut from his album, "Son of a Seventh Son."
But I also love Bill Morganfield, Mud's sibling whose blues are a bit more organic. Here's one from his album, "Blues With a Mood."
Two more. Don Nix is a Stax veteran who was once a member of the Mar-Keys. It turns out though he's still a great singer and songwriter as a solo artists. He reminds me quite a bit of Leon Russell. He's got this God thing going but don't let that spoil it. Here's the title song from the debatably titled "In God We Trust."
Lastly, there's The Hillbilly Explosion. I love this album of Americana music and listen to it often, especially this song, "Perfidia," one of my big favorites of 2013.
Ok, that does it for Tuesday. What are you listening to? I promise, no grimacing at your selections, unlike someone else we know. By the way, the little guy tied up in the corner sends his best. He thinks he's coming back next week.