Often rabid record collectors will find their recollections on music highjacked by a discussion on their all-time favorite 45s. The sides that can be endlessly spun and always provide that same rush afforded the first listen often don’t so much produce conversation, as they do intense love letters from one individual to another, that if not reciprocated will stop everything dead in their tracks. But then, even on top of those are the 45’s, are those that provide that exhilaration twice, once on the A and once on the B side. Imagine the shock when one of my absolute stunners, the Okeh career of Billy Butler, produces several such dual slabs of magic, with only barely ever denting the charts.
But it was the one hit he did have: Okeh release 7221, a #6 in 1966, that is the point of todays discussion. Continue reading →
As I’ve done twice in the past, here is a compendium ordering of my favorite film genre, Horror, updated to include—to the best of my ability—my lifetime within the genre. It’s dedicated to anyone who’s ever laughed while being frightened, who’s ever been willing to watch anything past 500 or so. Happy Halloween (the previous edition of this list was posted here for anyone who wants to see how it’s been shaken up in the subsequent years). Continue reading →
My playlist imagines itself as a fictitious Horror film within the Italian giallo sub-genre, popular in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Famous for highly stylized visuals, intricate set pieces involving cat and mouse murders, and highly convoluted thriller plots often bordering on incomprehensible, the genre nevertheless remains a cult favorite to this day (and was the chief inspiration for the more famous Slasher genre of the late 70’s/early 80’s). As such, the selected music has a creepy period correct feel that builds a coherent narrative story about a black-gloved serial killer of young women, titled Give Daddy the Knife, Cindy. My fake movie poster employs several of my favorite titans of the genre, and fans of the English punk band the Damned will get the additional bit of sly reference in my fake films title.
I’ve compiled a sound mix that is one twenty-six minute (and change) track with all my selections mixed seamlessly together with additional sound effects and movie clips to heighten the narrative plot. Enjoy.
Being a fan of 80’s guitar jangle that I am, it’d come as no real surprise that I’d consider Alex Chilton to be one the forms exemplary talents. Once anyone gets into the litany of bands from that era that regularly spoke of his expansive influence—REM, the Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, Primal Scream, the Posies, Soul Asylum, X, and on and on you could go—you would get to the point that you’d be almost tired of the namecheck and do the homework for yourself. What you’d find, first in the Box Tops records of the mid to late 60s (where his blue eyes soul vocal stylings were second to none) and then specifically the Big Star records of the mid-70s, is some of the most bristling guitar pop of that or any era. Big Star evoked a touching individualistic honesty that immediately marked the songs to his unique perspective (but, lets also not discount Chris Bell’s work with the band too; a fact his genius posthumous I Am the Cosmos LP more than bore), but the three records, as critically heralded as they were, sold poorly and the band remained mere cult darlings. These poor commercial showings strained the bands relationship with the label, and no doubt affected the psyches of Chilton and Bell. Thus, after three records (all of masterpiece quality), the band called it quits. Continue reading →
In the fall of 1966, The Miracles, not yet Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (at least on their US singles, as two albums had appeared with this moniker), released ‘(Come ‘Round Here) I’m the One You Need’, a springy piece of guitar driven dance pop. It’s a slight deviation from the normal Smokey track, mainly in that the lyric, though a heartfelt message meant to comfort a girl who may be losing her lover, is boasting and assertive. Robinson was always an assured singer, to me second to none in the form, but his songs are usually forlorn excursions, he the victim of loves often sad outcomes. Since the A-side did appear as such, you’d almost assume that the flip side would tread his usual waters. Little did anyone know that when flipped just how beautiful the B would be, perhaps saying in the plainest language possible that if the A is going to be this strong in confident emotional temperament, the B would have to be at least that lamenting comparatively in reverse. Continue reading →
Often you’ll read critics review new artists with a degree of difficulty that no band, save a select dozen or so since rock n’ rolls inception sometime in the mid 1950s, could have ever hoped to achieve. In the reviews, often exciting new artists are compared unfavorably to other bands, as if to say that to bare an influence of another is to be derivative and therefor unoriginal. These critics fail to realize that even the bands they use for comparison most certainly had reference points as well, plus, the very genius of rock n’ roll as a form is just how much subtle (and vast) variation we’ve heard within a relatively tight sonic template. With most acts featuring the simple drum, bass and guitar line-up we’ve nevertheless gotten millions of different songs and lyrical passages. But, and the point can’t be overstated, many great songs are great because they bare striking resemblance to other songs. Their brilliance is either as counter-point echo (as I said last post, ‘Just Like Honey’ is wonderful, in part because it’s showing how different a spin on ‘Be My Baby’ can be had using roughly the same parts) or shoulders-in-arms (the Jam copied the Who* and the Small Faces because they were part of the same Mod subculture, albeit more than a decade later), or as in today’s example, giving a nice contemporary reworking to old classics to give the kids something to bop around too. Not an altogether bad thing as the classics can’t be preformed live anymore and a vital underground scene is essential in any city, even if all the clubs are filled with retreads and copycats (not that today’s topic is remotely that though).Continue reading →