Friday, October 20, 2017

Weekend Mix/Venus Of Cool

Her guitar in more ways than one.

Pure Pop For Now People Indeed.

It's really unusual that an artist I like wins a Grammy, or is even popular. Or alive, for that matter.
Almost all my weekend mixes concentrate on the (mostly early) '70's, and imply that music used to be better.

Last Saturday I heard an interview with St Vincent (Annie Clark) on The New Yorker Radio Hour (WNYC, no apologies). I knew of her; there were comparisons to David Bowie, "prog", guitar player of interest, and that she'd been involved in designing a line of guitars for women and girls.
I enjoyed listening to her talk about her art so much,  I wanted to hear it, and regretted passing up the opportunity to download "St Vincent" (2013) which turned out to be the Grammy winner.
One reason was her collaboration with David Byrne, of whom I'm not a fan, but that's another story.
Later that day I downloaded "Masseduction" (2017, just out). 
Before I'd heard it all the way through, I downloaded "St Vincent", and then did some research. 
I found reviews of other releases on various blogs, and in each case the writer loved whichever album, but liked the one previous better. Something I'm often guilty of. 
One mentioned, "Northern Lights" a favorite song from his take on her "best" album, "Strange Mercy" (2011). I needed to hear the guitar noise, and solo at the end.
Within minutes I'd acquired it , and "Actor" (2009). Still working on "Paris Is Burning" (2006), and "Marry Me" (2007).

I do my best listening in the car and the kitchen. I've heard all four in their entirety every day since, which is unusual for me as I'm usually playing random shuffle. Never full albums all the way through, while taking notes. For some reason I needed to devour this music as fast as I could. 

"Masseduction" might be best so far, but I like them all for their differences.
I'm reminded of Bowie, Prince, XTC, Eno, Lennon, Kraftwerk, Bill Nelson, Glam, Prog, even a little B. Wilson, and pretty much everything else I love. 
Her voice is a fine instrument, gliding all over the place with apparent ease.  
I want to believe everything she says. 
She has chops and her guitar is angular noisy fun. There is a hook around every corner.
I often comment about giving a song 30 seconds to sell me. 
That doesn't work with her music. In just about every case, the first 30 seconds bear no resemblance to the last. Or the middle, hence the "prog" reference. Every song is a tiny miracle.
I can't wait to see what she does next.

I don't know how long this infatuation will last, but for now I'm hooked.

Venus Of Cool

Venus Of Cool, too



Thursday, October 19, 2017


I received this video in an e-mail from my friend Gene. There was no explanation attached. But I watched it and I understood.

It's 9:08 and the quality is a B+, but if you're a Dylan fan, you won't be sorry.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


I picked up a record this weekend, a Spanish compilation on the Pancho label called "Tremblin'." I hadn't heard a note from it but I knew it was a keeper from the title and the cover. And it was on a label called Pancho! The description of its contents was written on the back cover:

"Seductive and intense female vocals. Some are gritty, some torchy, some hurting. All are passionate. The result: a suggestive, atmospheric long player to be enjoyed with intimate company that will make you tremble."

Holy Smokes!

As it turns out, about half of these tunes are "Fever" with different lyrics. But there are a few gems here, like the track on top, "Johnny, With The Gentle Hands" by Wini Brown. Can't beat that title! I don't know Wini Brown, but further research turned up a record made with Duke Ellington Orchestra alumnus Cootie Williams.

Another killer is the one right above, "Strange Man" by Hannah Dean. Further research found out that she was a stage actress, and made a few movies in the 70's. She recorded a few more singles for Columbia, and this one, "You You You," a b-side, killed me more than "Strange Man."  I am currently Hannah Dean's biggest fan.

Below is the title track, "Tremblin" from Byrdie Green, a jazz and R&B singer who made some records for Prestige with Johnny "Hammond" Smith. This single is pretty damn great.

Finally, the reason I ended up with this great collection, Miss Berna-Dean.  One of my favorite records, is a song I first heard on an EMI 2 CD set collecting the great sides and productions of New Orleans Dave Bartholomew, "I Walk In My Sleep." I finally snagged a nice 45 last weekend, and was hoping to find more by Berna-Dean. She has a track on "Tremblin'," but it's nothing to...uh...tremble over.  But, here is what started it all.

Hope ya dig'em.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Trout Mask Replica? And Please, Be Honest

Once every five or seven years, I give Captain Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica" a spin. I never make it all the way through. I was reminded of this thanks to a new Blade Runner movie that was just released. Once every five or seven years, I try to watch "Blade Runner." I never make it all the way through. In the case of "Blade Runner," I'll admit that I am not a big fan of science fiction, so though I find the first 30 minutes of Blade Runner unbearable, I blame myself. But in the case of "Trout Mask Replica," I think I qualify to say, it is unbearable.

I am a fan of Captain Beefheart. "Safe As Milk" and "Clear Spot" are personal faves, with "Lick My Decals, Baby" and "The Spotlight Kid" both having some fine moments. But even members of Beefheart's Magic Band told the Captain to go fuck himself during the recording of "Trout Mask Replica." (I read that in Mojo magazine last year.)

So to all of the people who rave about "Trout Mask Replica," just stop it. But if you really and truly  think I am missing something, tell me what it is. It's about that time to give it another go and this time, with your help, maybe I'll know what I am listening for.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Songs Of The Week, 2017: 9/30-10/13

The Man Comes Around- Johnny Cash
Bell Bottom Blues- Derek & The Dominoes
Rats In The Cellar- Aerosmith
You Don't Know How It Feels- Tom Petty
I Want You Back Again- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Lithium- Shelby Lynne & Alison Moorer
A New Career In A New Town- David Bowie
Sleep- Todd Rundgren w/ Joe Walsh
It's Like I Never Learned A Thing- Larry Tagg
Roll Call- NRBQ
I Looked Away- Mike Nesmith
The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game- The Marvelettes
Cry Baby Cry- The Beatles
You Got To Be Clean- The Ethiopians


Friday, October 13, 2017

Weekend Mix/Sandy And Richard

Blah, Blah, Blah. I recently acquired "Come All Ye, The First Ten Years", a new 7 disc box by Fairport Convention.
I've been a fan since the early '70's, so I downloaded largely out of duty, figuring I already have everything, but this compilation is heavy on bonus material, and much of it rivals the official releases.

The band is still active, with Simon Nicol at the head, but I'm mainly interested in the classic late '60's early '70's lineup that included Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, Dave Swarbrick, Simon Nicol, Ashley Hutchings, and Dave Mattacks, as found on "Leige And Leif" (1969).

This Weekend Mix largely avoids the "hits" in favor of what makes this box set essential.

Meet On the Ledge

Meet On the Ledge, too

For the whole Fairport Convention story: wiki



Thursday, October 12, 2017

100 IF

Thelonious Sphere Monk would have been 100 on Tuesday. He was my gateway into Jazz. I liked Jazz, the way I enjoyed "classical" music, in that I admired it for academic reasons. Not because I thought it was fun.

My first father in law, James, was born, raised, and retired in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Monk's birthplace. Although he didn't play an instrument, he was a lifelong music fan of extraordinary enthusiasm. James loved Jazz and Bluegrass in no particular order. The first time we met I walked into a room full of records. He knew I was a musician. He couldn't wait to spin some, so when he asked what I wanted to hear, I said, "How about some Thelonious Monk?"
He lit up. "Good answer," I thought.

In reality all I knew was "Monk Suite" by the Kronos Quartet.
He pulled out "Underground" (1968), , and played the opener, "Thelonious", an old tune first recorded in 1947, and the right song at the right time. I was instantly hooked. And it's only 3 minutes long.


Eric Dolphy's "Out To Lunch"was next. I proceeded to ransack the collection, making a 90 minute mix tape. Volume 1 of "I Don't Know My Jazz From a Hole In The Ground". I was "in" with James.
That's why I felt bad, when a few years later, I returned his daughter like a defective appliance.

Monk was first to wear the beret and dark glasses, and is the second most-recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed more than a thousand pieces, whereas Monk wrote about 70.

Here is Monk at his prime performing "Hackensack":

I made this cover of "Well, You Needn't", playing electric guitars. Everything else is a sample.
Guests include Monk, Duke, Miles, Coltrane, Mingus, Joey Baron, Ralph Towner, and others.

Well, You Needn't