Archive for June, 2007

The Beach Boys “Love You”

Love You

This is my 2nd favorite Beach Boys record. But damn if I didn’t have to work for it. When you are a Beach Boys nut, everything you read about this record makes you want to conquer it, but it simply isn’t possible your first time through.

On around your 5th time you start to get the hang of the songs. Clearly you are already digging I’ll Bet He’s Nice, easily the stand-out track with its chirpy, whirring, bubbly synth attacks, and maybe even laughing along with Johnny Carson, which the Boys actually got to perform on the late night show! When you hear it the 6th and 7th times, you’ll be by yourself and it’ll be during a nap, but it is at this point that The Night Was So Young and Airplane stuck in your head. Even the album opener should start to resonate with that Love You warmth around now.

10 plus listens and you’ll be tired of Pet Sounds. Even Let’s Put Our Hearts Together is starting to sound good and you simply love Dennis’ I Wanna Pick You Up and Brian’s soaring Love Is A Woman. It takes getting used to, but Brian’s ragged voice and the orchestra of synthesizers on this album weave a sonic and melodic tapestry as retro, textured and beautiful as its quilted album cover.

You can ignore 15 Big Ones (the album packaged along with Love You as a twofer), in fact I would recommend searching for Love You on vinyl so you don’t have to deal with it. Actually, there is one magic take on Big Ones: Had To Phone Ya.

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“Let Us Go On This Way”

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The Beach Boys “Today”

Today

This is the kind of record you can find in the bins mint for under $5. Just look at it! Even record dealers don’t realize this little brown album is a crown jewel in the Boys discog, the real precursor to Pet Sounds.

Summer is here, and you are going to want to play some of this Beach Boys music, but you don’t want to just throw on Good Vibrations, you need something earlier, less recognizable but that still rattles everybody’s Beach Boys bone. The track you are in search of is Do You Wanna Dance, sung by Dennis Wilson and kicking off this great set, sure to get your pool party started.

Maybe you’d end up skipping to Dance, Dance, Dance with its gnarly bass and twelve-string guitar lick, but you’d be missing the endearing Don’t Hurt My Little Sister and the harpsichord-led When I Grow Up (To Be A Man). Touches of the Pet Sounds orchestra abound, pick them out on your own! I love these teenage songs so much, but the real gems on here are Please Let Me Wonder (featuring Carl’s sincere but silly “I love you” at the fade out) and Kiss Me Baby (kiss a little bit, fight a little bit, kiss a little bit, whoa baby 4x).

It’s a great record and even better that (on compact disc) it’s coupled with Summer Days (and Summer Nights) featuring the fantastic songs Girl Don’t Tell Me, Let Him Run Wild, Summer Means New Love and more!

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“Please Let Me Wonder”

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Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band “Trout Mask Replica”

Trout Mask Replica

The Captain’s 10 Commandments for Guitarists

1. LISTEN TO THE BIRDS
That’s where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren’t going anywhere.
2. YOUR GUITAR IS NOT REALLY A GUITAR
Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you’re good, you’ll land a big one.
3. PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A BUSH
Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn’t shake, eat another piece of bread.
4. WALK WITH THE DEVIL
Old delta blues players referred to amplifiers as the “devil box.” And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you’re bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts demons and devils. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.
5. IF YOU’RE GUILTY OF THINKING, YOU’RE OUT
If your brain is part of the process, you’re missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.
6. NEVER POINT YOUR GUITAR AT ANYONE
Your instrument has more power than lightning. Just hit a big chord, then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.
7. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CHURCH KEY
You must carry your key and use it when called upon. That’s your part of the bargain. Like One String Sam. He was a Detroit street musician in the fifties who played a homemade instrument. His song “I Need A Hundred Dollars” is warm pie. Another church key holder is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty making you want to look up her dress to see how he’s doing it.
8. DON’T WIPE THE SWEAT OFF YOUR INSTRUMENT
You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.
9. KEEP YOUR GUITAR IN A DARK PLACE
When you’re not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don’t play your guitar for more than a day, be sure to put a saucer of water in with it.
10. YOU GOTTA HAVE A HOOD FOR YOUR ENGINE
Wear a hat when you play and keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house the hot air can’t escape. Even a lima bean has to have a wet paper towel around it to make it grow.

(Via Music Thing)

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“Veterans Day Poppy”

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The Left Banke “There’s Gonna Be A Storm”

There’s Gonna Be A Storm

Noted as one of the trailblazers of baroque pop, the Left Banke,  known for their huge hit ‘Walk Away Renee’ were original twee. Think of a classical Zombies, harpsichord instead of wurli with dramatic classically-influenced arrangements.

‘Pretty Ballerina’ is their lesser but still well-known hit, and the singing is drop dead gorgeous. Steve Martin (not that Steve Martin) was one of the most under appreciated rock vocalists of his generation and his tender delivery, combined with the delicate string arrangements assured ‘Ballerina.’ Michael Brown wrote great melodies, lyrics tuned to the woe of teenage heartbreak.

Key tracks include ‘Shadows Breaking Over My Head,’ ‘She May Call You Up Tonight,’ ‘I Haven’t Got The Nerve,’ ‘Barterers And Their Wives,’ ‘There’s Gonna Be A Storm’ etc. The 2nd half of this collection covers the material surrounding the Left Banke’s unfortunate demise.

Only a country-rocker falls flat on a completely solid album that many people call baroque pop. Their second album Too, is respectable but lacks the fire of the debut and does not benefit from Michael Brown’s absence. Essential stuff!!

For the complete recordings of the Left Banke in one package, get this.

‘Desiree’ plus ‘Men Are Building Sand’ would be part of the excellent follow up record, Montage.

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“I’ve Got Something On My Mind”

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Shiva’s Headband “Take Me To The Mountains”

Take Me To The Mountains

Shiva’s Headband was the first rock/country rock group to establish the Austin, Texas music scene. They were also the first Austin Texas group to be signed to a major record label. The above album, Take Me To The Mountains came out in 1970, off the RCA label.

The cover art is very surreal and striking, only hinting at the sounds from within. Take Me To The Mountains is a wild and woolly mixture of psychedelia, country, blues, hippierock, folk, tex-mex and rock. Similar in style to the Sir Douglas Quintet, although Spencer Perskin’s fiddle dominates rather than Auggie Meyer’s classic organ sound. Vocals are mainly sung by Spencer Perskin with his wife Suzy taking the occasional lead, as heard wonderfully on the blues rock stomper Homesick Armadillo Blues.

The playing on this record is tight, care-free and fun, few records from the 1960’s – early 1970’s are so laid back and joyous. Ripple is a good example of this approach, highlighted by some great, icey blues guitar playing. Some of the country-rock numbers are real classics too. Take a listen to Take Me To The Mountains and My Baby for that real, reckless space cowboy feel. The psychedelic high point is without a doubt Song For Peace. Spencer’s fiddle and Suzy’s organ dominate this hypnotic, drifting psych masterwork. This song was released as a single in the late 60’s albeit in a trippier, even more psychedelic version.

There are no weak tracks on this record which really carves out it’s own sound. The production of Take Me To The Mountains works really well too, in a bare bones minimalist way. It’s important to note that Spencer Perskin is one of Austin’s most popular musicians having established Armadillo Headquarters. In 1971 Shiva released a private press album titled Coming To A Head. This is also a great record with more of a country western sound.

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“My Baby”

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T-Rex “Electric Warrior”

Electric Warrior

I grew up thinking T-Rex was mad lame. See, you hear this “Bang A Gong, Get it ON!” song on classic rock radio all the time, and somehow everybody knows it’s T-Rex. But that’s it… pretty lame, man. Pick up the nice digipak release of Electric Warrior, however, and you’ll experience your first bout of T-Rextacy.

I’m just writing this one up in case. Everybody in the UK is sick of this album, but I didn’t know about it until a few years ago. It simply can’t be missed. From the moment Mambo Sun sets the kicked back groove, Electric Warrior is an album with immediate resonance. It carries on to the beautiful Cosmic Dancer (watch the great film Billy Elliot for a healthy dose of Rextacy) before taking off with the rocking Jeepster. The album continues this way dynamically, but every song is so simple, every melody so smart, every lyric so strange, and every sound so classic.

It’s no wonder Marc Bolan was in love with himself. Check out the Born to Boogie DVD to see him perform next to a giant cutout of himself while wearing his face on his tee shirt. Electric Warrior is the album when Bolan took the folkier, mystic Tyrannosaurus Rex to the next level. Basically, he wanted to rock. So he brought out the electrics and the drum kit, but kept the bongos and added some strings. Just go get Electric Warrior, then The Slider. Then, if you’re up for it, old buddy Sergio will tell you about TANX.

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“Life’s A Gas”

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The Koala (self-titled)

The Koala

In 1969, the Koala released their only album. They were a New York band who were being hyped/billed as an Australian group. This strange gimmick sealed the mysterious band’s fate.

From what I know, the above album is very hard to find making the 2007 cd reissue a breathe of fresh air. While not a garage masterpiece on par with the Remains’ only album or the 13th Floor Elevator’s debut, the Koala album is damn good. It’s a late period garage album that is similar to the Canadian garage band It’s All Meat’s sole record (which is also great).

The Koala played a sloppy brand of rock full of power chords, out of control fuzz guitar solos and thundering drums. The album is uniformly strong and diverse, showing strong Cream, Rascals, and Who influences. Take a good listen to the mini revolution that is Look At The Way She Comes. This song is the very definition of punk rock: searing guitars, arrogant vocals and titantic drums. It’s pitched halfway between You Better Run era Rascals and the Blue Magoo’s circa self-titled 1968 album – a true classic with a definitive New York sound! Poppa Duke Tyler hits just as hard, with one huge, mind melting fuzz guitar solo and limey vocals. Other songs like Elizabeth and Nothings Changed play it soft and slow while still capturing an attractive sound. This is another lost treasure from the 60’s and an absolute must for garage heads.

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“Look At The Way She Comes”

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The Rolling Stones “Between The Buttons”

Between The Buttons

You’d think that we’d recommend Satanic Majesty instead of Between the Buttons, but no. The Stones were getting hang of the studio, and starting to experiment before they decided to try and get all psych on Their Satanic… but man, just because an album is psychedelic, or at least just because the cover is psychedelic, it don’t make it good. We’re not all about psychedelic music, we’re all about good music.

Anyway, there are interesting sounds sprinkled all throughout this record. A swell dose of xylophone, flutes, glass clinks, tambourines, crunch guitar, and weird sounds in general gracing each track on this killer LP. It’s psychedelic enough, and the Stones are doing what they do best… not faking it. Some of my favorites include the driving Connection, a staunchy Something Happened To Me Yesterday, and the rocking My Obsession and Complicated. All the songs on this record are great, it’s a classic Stones record with wild sounds.

If you can live without the big hits, Ruby Tuesday and Let’s Spend The Night Together, you’d be well off picking up the UK record, it’s the original lineup (on remastered Super CD or whatever they are calling it these days) because in the UK they would save the big ones for greatest hits records. Back Street Girl and Please Go Home are featured only on the UK release of “Btw” and are also available on Flowers (US). Between the Buttons is probably their best record?

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“Cool, Calm, Collected”

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The Everly Brothers “Roots”

Roots

Back in 1968, if you were an Everly fan, you probably would have thought the Brothers had ‘sold out’ when Roots was released. Though they recorded plenty a pop wonder, this return to the music of their childhood and new sway into contemporary sounds at once was a bold move. Today, it serves as an easy introduction for fans less tuned to the early 60’s Ev’s, and it will always stand as one of the most important country rock records ever.

It opens with a delightful introduction from Ma and Pa Everly, explaining just how young their talented youngsters really are: “and we gonna play and sing you some songs, neighbors… family style, also country style.” By the time Mama Tried jolts in you’ll understand this record. The playing is clean, smooth, and country. There are hints of experimentation and collage throughout the record and the arrangements both pay tribute and give new life to these songs.

Fair tribute to the similar sounding late Beau Brummels is paid, the Everlys covering Ron Elliot’s Turn Around from Bradley’s Barn and the relaxed Ventura Boulevard. Also of note is that Ron Elliott was in the studio, overseeing production of Roots, which also accounts for the similarity in sound. On Roots, the Everly Brothers managed to put an entirely new sound on Shady Grove and T For Texas while at the same time doing their damndest to establish modern songwriters with the new country-rock standards they had written. As always, their harmonies are great.

There’s a non-country gem on this record that stands out a bit, it’s an early Randy Newman tune entitled Illinois that anyone lucky enough to be living in that fine City of Chicago needs to have on hand. (Looks like this site has it).

The Everly’s had always been combining country music and pop. With Roots, maybe they didn’t invent country-rock, but they cut their definitive statement on it, and from all the groups who were experimenting with this new sound and style, they were probably the most qualified.

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“Turn Around”

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Tim Hardin “1”

1

Here is one of America’s best songwriters. Just ask Colin Blunstone, Gandalf, Scott Walker, The Small Faces, or the hundreds of other well known artists to have recorded his tunes. He is best known for If I Were A Carpenter, though you probably have heard many of Tim’s songs without realizing it.

Tunes you’d probably know on 1? Let’s see, Reason to Believe has got to be the most popular, it’s a well known and beautiful song. Misty Roses you will recognize from Colin Blunstone’s One Year. Never Too Far and How Can We Hang On To A Dream both show up on Gandalf’s self-titled debut.

As for how Tim sings ’em, well, all due respect to his many coverers, and maybe Tim doesn’t own the definitive version for any of his songs, but you need to hear this record. It’s laid-back and incredibly sparse folk music with jazz drumming and delicate, stunning production. String sections, apparently added without his knowledge feature here and there, and fill some holes in this certainly understated recording. It’s satisfying to identify each instrument immediately as you listen, to have them all under control, but not to need another sound.

If you are looking for a compact disc, get Hang On To A Dream, The Verve Recordings, which has 1 and 2 as well as outtakes spread over 2 discs, a great deal (if you get it used).

mp3: Don’t Make Promises

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