Monday, October 31, 2005

Howlin' Wolf

For halloween I thought I would post a couple of songs by Chester Arthur Burnett or Howlin' Wolf as he is commonly known. With one of the best and most unmistakeable voices in all of blues music "like shattered glass being dragged over hot ashpalt" as one writer put it and a catalog of songs that should be known to many rock fans because of cover versions of Wolf songs like Spoonful, Back Door Man, I Ain't Superstitious and Smokestack Lightning by the likes of Cream, The Doors, Jeff Beck Group and the Yardbirds to name a few. Quite a few were written by the very prolific Willie Dixon who had a couple of his songs covered by Led Zeppelin on their first record and they even took songwriting credit for them! I like Zeppelin I just think it is a shame they took credit for it. Everything was cleared up with an out of court settlement of a size generous enough to make Dixon happy. The raw and pure originals should be heard and appreciated so here is Evil and I Ain't Superstitious for your listening pleasure so you can hear for yourself why Sam Phillips said "this is where the soul of man never dies".

Buy it here.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Psychedelic Furs

The Psychedelic Furs debut from 1980 is an interesting post-punk record and a personal favorite of mine. It has a droning wall of noise garage band sound and punk attitude with Richard Butler's raspy vocals matching his cynical/sarcastic lyrical take on life. Butler would go on to learn to actually sing, in an almost crooning (for him) style eventually, but here he matches Johnny Lydon in snarling attitude. Most of the production work is by Steve Lillywhite who would produce the Furs next album Talk Talk Talk and who would go on to work with XTC, Peter Gabriel, Big Country, U2 and Simple Minds to name a few. The Furs would change immensely in the next few years after this release going toward a more sleek pop oriented new wave sound with Todd Rundgren and Keith Forsey producing more commercial records and they would have a couple of fairly substantial hits for their efforts. Here is Fall and Pulse for you to check out.

Buy it here.

Friday, October 28, 2005

David Gilmour - There's No Way Out Of Here

David was the guitarist for this little known band from England called Pink Floyd. You may have heard of them. All kidding aside, he is a good singer and very tasteful guitar player who made his first solo album in 1978 that is titled David Gilmour. The record is simply arranged and well produced with about half of it instrumentals and a couple of really good songs such as Short and Sweet and the late 70's FM radio hit There's No Way Out Of Here which has always been a favorite of mine. This song came to me while thinking of Karl Rove, "Scooter" Libby and Dick Cheney so you could say I am dedicating it to them. You reap what you sow. Everything that goes around comes around. Some things are cliches because they are so very true. Don't you agree?

Buy it here.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen is a great songwriter and brilliant lyricist who is not what you would call "mainstream". The lyrics and themes for his songs are a probably a little too real and "dark" to most people for him to have ever had a commercial career. Embarking in the late 60's as a recording artist after I would assume starving as a poet, he was a sort of sweet voiced singer in the folk music singer/songwriter vein who now sounds like he has smoked too many cigarettes and unfortunately has made some badly produced records since the late 80's relying on too many synthesizers, drum machines and back up female singers. But the songs are really, really good. I Can't Forget is off Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man which is his "comeback" record from 1988. He spent a good deal of the 90's living at the Zen Center on Mount Baldy near Los Angeles as a Zen monk named Jikan. Something all aging pop musicians do on a regular basis, right?

His stature among his fellow musicians is immense and there are a couple of tribute albums out includng one called I'm Your Fan with R.E.M., The Pixies (doing a cover of I Can't Forget), Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and many others that is fun and most of the tracks on it are quite good. Many of you are probably familiar with the brilliant performance of Leonard's song called Hallelujah on Jeff Buckley's album Grace or perhaps the Concrete Blonde version of Everybody Knows which is good also.

Buy it here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bauhaus - Near The Atmosphere Tour

Since I am going to see them tomorrow night I thought I would post a track from Bauhaus - Burning From The Inside which was their final album. I like this record very much, it is kind of all over the place musically, which is probably why I enjoy it and shows hints of the fracture in the band that eventually caused Peter Murphy to pursue a solo career and the rest of the group to form Love & Rockets a couple of years later. Apparently Peter Murphy was sick during part of the recording of this album which is why he only shows up on about half the tracks. Here is the light hearted ditty called Antonin Artaud for your pleasure. Peter sounds just fine on this cut. I just realized I didn't even mention they are supposed to be so very Goth. Which means there will be lots of head to toe black clothing and white skin at the concert I suppose.

Post concert note: There were not as many "Goths" at the concert as you might imagine, however there was a guy me and my friend Daniel called "The Count" who thought he was a vampire with his white face and the cape like thing he was wearing. But a vampire with a mustache and some other facial hair? Doesn't work but it is funny. Near where I was sitting there were a couple of Mothers with a teenage kid or two though. Concert was good except Pete's vocals were mixed a little too low.

Next concert is Depeche Mode in November with my wife Shirin and Echo & The Bunnymen in December with Daniel. My personal 80's deja vu tour continues!

Buy it here.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Todd Is God

A wonderful double album (remember them?) of melodic rock/pop influenced by Philly soul and the Beatles with a couple of quirky tunes and some strange little spoken word bits courtesy of Todd Rundgren Something/Anything? from 1972. The amazing thing about it is that Todd was 23 when he wrote and performed (every instrument and voice) the first three sides of this record all by himself and then got some friends to come in and help him with the last side. Oh and he produced the whole thing too. There are a couple of well known songs on here that you would probably recognize even if you think you don't know any Todd songs, Hello It's Me gets played on the radio a little and the brilliant opening track I Saw The Light gets some airplay also. After this hit record he got, shall we say, experimental and went to the left when he could have gone straight for the pop career. He obviously didn't want it. Even if you aren't familiar with his music, you know his production work, some of the artists he has worked with include Badfinger, Meat Loaf, Grand Funk Railroad, XTC, Patti Smith, The Psychedelic Furs and The Tubes to name a few. Quite an eclectic list!

Buy it here.

George Carlin

Went to see Carlin last night along with 1500 other people in a sold out performance. He is rehearsing his show that is going to be live on HBO in about 2 weeks. He was a little off in parts of the show, but otherwise, was his usual self. I don't think his material last night was as good as his early 90's stuff. It still cut deep though. Here is one of my favorite bits from Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics which is available on cd and dvd. It is called Some People Are Stupid which nails a certain politician of the first Bush administration perfectly. Funny thing is, I could swear it is about our current president. History repeats.

Buy it here.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Initial Post: A Walk Across The Rooftops

I bought the debut record of The Blue Nile - A Walk Across The Rooftops in 1983 after reading a glowing review of it in Stereo Review magazine. A spare, late night melancholy record with beautiful songs, soulful singing and lean minimal production. Here is my favorite track Tinsletown In The Rain

Buy it here.