Sunday, February 28, 2021

Songs Of The Week, 2020: 2/20- 2/26


 

Bitch- Rolling Stones
Oh Daddy- The Turtles
Poor Little Girl- George Harrison
Chevrolet Van- The Nude Party
Rita- Los Lobos
Get A Grip- NRBQ
Every Day Is Exactly The Same- Nine Inch Nails

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Bitch- Rolling Stones
One of the greatest b-sides ever! Would this have been a smash in 1971 if it was an a-side?

Oh Daddy- The Turtles
A favorite off of my favorite Turtles album. I've said it before, if you think The Turtles were just a singles band, you should check out some of their albums, especially "The Battle Of The Bands." Do it!

Poor Little Girl- George Harrison
One of the new tracks included on "The Best Of Dark Horse" collection, not a greatest hits album exactly, but still a terrific set of music that I play almost as much as The Who's "Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy."

Chevrolet Van- The Nude Party
Another from my new favorite band, this is from their debut. Listen to the words, you youngsters!

Rita- Los Lobos
I love the groove and vibe of this one. 

Get A Grip- NRBQ
One of my favorite Big Al guitar solos. A real burner!

Every Day Is Exactly The Same- Nine Inch Nails
I've posted a number of NIN tunes here. Most met with a deafening silence. Maybe Trent Reznor is not your cup of tea. But if you ever felt like diving in, "With Teeth" is his masterpiece and most accessible.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

It's Time For "Name That Better, Older Tune" With Aaron Frazer

 


When I read that Aaron Frazer had stepped out from behind the drum kit to release his debut solo album away from Durand Jones & The Indications, my first thought was, "I'm sorry, what? Who?"

Then I read that Frazer's album was produced by Dan Auerbach and I thought, "Uh, nevermind."

But then, I saw all the wonderful reviews and thought, "Means nothing. Lotsa crap gets 4-stars!"

The final straw was when my buddy Sal Maida played a track on his Spin Cycle radio show. I thought, "Okay, now this might be worth investigating."

Let me continue by saying, I dig The Black Keys. At least some of their albums. But I find Dan Auerbach's production skills to be hit and miss. What he did on Dr. John's "Locked Down" was pure genius. What he did to the Pretenders was unforgiveable. 

To be honest, I find the whole retro soul---James Brown meets Billie Holiday meets Dusty Springfield in Memphis with a bottle of booze and a bag full of King Curtis, Smokey Robinson and Stylistics cassettes a little tired at this point. Nathaniel Rateliff,  St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Shannon Shaw, Andra Day...there is something to like in all of it. But most of the time, I'm ultimately left cold, wanting to simply hear the masters instead. 

Only Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones have delivered substance over style...to my ears.

 


 

And here's Aaron Frazer, with his not very powerful squeal of a falsetto, and a band that longs to be in a Muscle Shoals studio circa 1969, churning out reminder after reminder that, we've heard this all before only better. "Girl On The Phone is Percy Sledge's "It Tears Me Up" and Irma Thomas' "Wish Someone Would Care." "If I Got It" is Smokey's "More Love." And "Done Lyin'" is actually Babs & Barry Gibb's "Guilty!" I can play Name That Tune all night!

So what's the good news? Well, I'm not sure. 

I listened to "Introducing Aaron Frazer" in its entirety. I wasn't minding any of it. In fact, when I played individual tunes as I was writing this up, I found a little more to like. 

Maybe I am missing the point. I imagine there are a dozen or more vintage songs with the exact same arrangement as Percy's "It Tears Me Up" and Irma's "Wish Someone Would Care." It didn't bother me then. Why should it bother me now? I imagine the whole retro soul scene is intentionally all about that. Hell, so is rock and roll, at its core, no?

Is it just the 4-star reviews being tossed about like t-shirts from an air gun at a sporting event that bothers me?

"Introducing Aaron Frazer" hit a few nerves, one being the "I dig this sound" nerve while simultaneously hitting the "This is pure novelty" nerve. After 45 minutes, the songs started to become one big sound as opposed to individual achievements. This is not a great soul record at all. But it works the way one of Brian Eno's "Airport" records works---it's there doing its own thing while you are doing yours. 

I will not reach for an Aaron Frazer record when I want to hear Smokey Robinson. I will reach for a Smokey Robinson record. And that is not what a 4-star record is supposed to do.

Friday, February 26, 2021

"A Beatle's Belated Birthday": The Weekend Mix


A day late, and 75 minutes long! 

Here are some George Harrison favorites, deep cuts and rarities to celebrate what would have been the Quiet Beatle's 78th birthday...yesterday.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare.

TRACKLIST
You
Horse To The Water
Love Comes To Everyone
It Don't Come Easy
The Answer's At The End
Mama, You've Been On My Mind
Beautiful Girl (demo)
Don't Let Me Wait Too Long
Far East Man
Looking For My Life
Beware Of Darkness (demo)
See Yourself
Abandoned Love
I Don't Want To Do It
Isn't It A Pity (demo)
If You Believe
Bangla-Desh
Try Some Buy Some
All Things Must Pass (demo)
Cheer Down

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Your February Slim Harpo PSA

 


On March 26th, the great people of Sundazed Records will be reissuing a stone cold classic, Slim Harpo's 1966 release, "Baby Scratch My Back." As Mick Jagger once said, "What's the point of listening to us doing 'I'm A King Bee' when you can hear Slim Harpo do it?" And if memory serves, when asked what song he could listen to forever, Keith Richards replied, "Slim Harpo. 'Rainin' In My Heart.'" 

There is a special vibe to Harpo's brand of swamp blues that stands out from the usual fare. And I'd like to agree with both Mick and Keith, I could not only listen to "Rainin' In My Heart" everyday until I die, I prefer Harpo's versions of his songs over everyone else's, though the Stones' version of "Shake Your Hips" is pretty damn good.

This is the first ever reissue for this essential LP and Sundazed is doing it right, giving the mastering honors to the brilliant Kevin Gray over at RTI. You vinyl freaks know, that's a good thing! You're going to want this.

Pre-orders can be placed over here.


 


 



 





Wednesday, February 24, 2021

I Love When That Happens

 

 

 

I purchased a small stack of 45s from a record dealer I occasionally do a little bit of business with. The records arrived, all in fine shape. But one of the 45s was a mistake. Right band, but wrong pressing with the wrong b-side. It wasn't expensive, but I still wanted the single I ordered.

I contacted the dealer and I was very nice. And then he was very nice and apologetic in return. And then we just started being really nice, like enough already nice. "No, I'm sorry!" "No, it's nothing." "No No!!"

He found the right 45 and offered to ship for free. I bought a few more 45s to make it worth his while. "You didn't have to do that!" "No no, it's fine!" No really!" "Aw gee!"

Okay, no one said, "Aw gee." But enough already.

The next batch with the right 45 and the extras arrived. Also in the box, a 45 by The Gentle Cycle, a band led by...you got it...the record dealer.

His name is Derek See. He's played with a recent version of The Chocolate Watchband, The Rain Parade and Country Joe McDonald. 

Both sides of this single are terrific. The A-Side "Ivy" is up top and below is a killer cover of the rare 13th Floor Elevators track "It's You." This is better than any of the singles I ordered.

I love when that happens.

You can check out more music from The Gentle Cycle on Bandcamp.

Thanks Derek.

 

(Maybe a good time for a John Sally Ride plug, no?)




Monday, February 22, 2021

The Nude Party

 

 

I woke up to some new favorite music thanks to a message from Shane in the chat box. He suggested the single "Shine Your Light" by The Nude Party because he heard a World Party influence. I listened and I heard it, too. Delving a bit deeper, I found a profile of The Nude Party from Boone, North Carolina, which says this:

"Bonded by isolation, house party debauchery, a religion based on pushing the limits of bad taste, and a precocious predisposition towards the Kinks, the Animals and the Velvets, they have burgeoned into a rock and roll act to be reckoned with. Their stripped down and bare bone sound, akin to the British Invasion being transplanted back into the Carolina mountains, has so far proven to have been unrecordable… until now. The secret? Sticking to the obvious and going down into a sweaty basement with a few mics, fewer clothes and a revolving door of comrades and goddesses falling by for as long as they can take the heat."

Believe it or not, this is exactly what their most recent record sounds like and that's a good thing.

Check out these three tracks from their 2020 release "Midnight Manor." 

And thanks Shane. The Nude Party has a new fan.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Songs Of The Week, 2021: 2/13-2/19


 

 

Shining In The Light- Jimmy Page & Robert Plant
Sister Marie- Nilsson
Things Change- Dwight Yoakam
Teardrops- Lil' Band O' Gold
Through The Lonely Nights- Rolling Stones
Jesus Wept- Mavis Staples
When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease- Roy Harper

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Shining In The Light- Jimmy Page & Robert Plant
A great opening track from a less than great collaboration. "Walking Into Clarksdale" was never going to live up to the expectations of Zeppelin fans, but it should have had more highlights than lowlights. I do love this track, though.

Sister Marie- Nilsson
The b-side of "One," Nilsson gets a bit psychedelic to great effect.

Things Change- Dwight Yoakam
Possibly my favorite Dwight Yoakam track. A song with enough hooks to snag a flounder. Mammy & Pappy would be proud.

Teardrops- Lil' Band O' Gold
Good week for "Teardrops." I finally got to see the elusive documentary about Lil' Band O' Gold, "The Promised Land: A Swamp Pop Journey" and I snagged a copy of the original 45 of "Teardrops" by Gene Terry.

Through The Lonely Nights- Rolling Stones
I was reminded of another forgotten b-side while flipping through 45s. You can find this on the back of "It's Only Rock N Roll."

Jesus Wept- Mavis Staples
Was listening to Mavis' album, "One True Vine" produced by Jeff Tweedy and thought this track might be a contender for Tweedy's best lyric. "Side streets I have worn/Through late summer storms/I should have told you/I could live without you/But I don't want to." 

When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease- Roy Harper
And speaking of great lyrics, we'll finish up with this beauty from what I think is Harper's best, "HQ." The all-star band backing Roy on this record features Dave Gilmour, Chris Spedding, John Paul Jones & Bill Bruford, but you'd never tell from this tracck.