Sunday, February 26, 2006

Procol Harum - A Salty Dog

When most people hear the name Procol Harum they think of the classic single, A Whiter Shade Of Pale, if they have any association with the name at all. It is a real shame that this band is not as well known as The Kinks, The Who, The Rolling Stones or Beatles as one of the best bands to come out of England in the 60’s. They put out some great records which unfortunately have been overshadowed by one song by most music fans.

The group at this time was an intriguing mix of blues, r & b and classical influences backing the superb lyrics of Keith Reid, with this album highlighting them all from the orchestral title song A Salty Dog, the acoustic guitars and recorder of Boredom to the country blues of Juicy John Pink.

Soulful lead singer Gary Brooker, blues blasting guitarist Robin Trower and classically influenced organist Matthew Fisher were the masterminds of the wonderful music of this band. Drummer BJ Wilson was very, very good as well. The material holds up very well four decades later because it is simply and effectively recorded and arranged without any gimmicks. Always the best way.

It was hard to pick just two songs but I finally decided on the atmospheric orchestral beauty of A Salty Dog and The Devil Came From Kansas with its wonderfully obscure lyrics.

" I am not a humble pilgrim
there's no need to scrape and squeeze
and don't beg for silver paper
when I'm trying to sell you cheese"

Buy it here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

David Bowie - Heathen

I don't know how many people realized that when David Bowie released Heathen in 2002 that he had made the best album of his career since Scary Monsters came out in 1980. Could it be that having Tony Visconti produce Bowie for the first time in 22 years made a difference? I would say the answer is a definite yes and Heathen is the proof.

No need to spend much time writing about his past except to say that I hear more of Station To Station on here than anything else. This record captures the tone and attitude of his best work from that era. Which is a very good thing.

Here is Slow Burn with Pete Townshend playing some slashing lead guitar and I hear echoes of 9/11 in the melancholy Everyone Says "Hi".

Buy it here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Antonio Carlos Jobim - The Composer Of Desafindao, Plays

Since my previous post mentioned the Stones playing in Brazil I thought I would write about Antonio Carlos Jobim one of the best composers to ever come out of that country and he, along with Stan Getz, Charlie Byrd, Joao Gilberto and his wife Astrud who sang the huge hit The Girl From Ipanemna, helped spark the Bossa Nova craze that swept the U.S. in 1963. I love his beautiful, languid and sometimes melancholy melodies with that wonderful Bossa Nova rhythm underneath and the spare arrangements that don't waste a note or take up too much space. The Composer of "Desafinado", Plays is his first album made in the U.S. after Ipanema hit and is quite different than the Getz/Gilberto album. I read somewhere that this sounds more closer to what Bossa Nova was like at the time in Brazil. Jobim himself played piano (mainly with one hand which is very obvious) and guitar with strings, flute, bass and drums as accompianment.

Here is Aqua de Beber and One Note Samba for you to check out for yourself.

Buy it here.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The New Rock Classics

Here is an article in todays SF Chronicle about the new classic albums of rock. I happen to agree with him and wrote an email with about 20 more titles that I would have put in there. I received a nice reply from him and he said it should have been 50 titles with some of my selections on there as well. Unfortunately he had space limitations.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Rolling Stones - We Love You

With the Rolling Stones playing one of the biggest concerts ever down in Rio de Janeiro today I thought I would post a favorite song from the psychedelic period of 1967. Here is the single We Love You with the group receiving help on background vocals from John Lennon and Paul McCartney which is appropriate considering they were obviously following the lead of the Beatles at this time. In this they were not alone.

I try to picture them as they were not as they are now. The recent Super Bowl performance never happened. Right?

Buy it here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

XTC - Reign Of Blows (Vote No Violence!)

XTC are just too good for words in my opinion, but I haven't been listening to them much lately, so on a whim I pulled out The Big Express when going out to do some errands the other day. Although it is not my favorite record by XTC I like it in some ways because it has a very different vibe than some of the other 80's stuff, a more bluesy, thick, hard and angular sound with lots of Linn drums on it that Andy was infatuated with at the time. There isn't another record they have that sounds like it. Reign Of Blows came on and after hearing lyrics like this:

"So torture raises it's head
decked out in blue white and red
and iron maidens will slam
and by the half light of burning republics
Joe Stalin looks just like Uncle Sam"

I couldn't help but think of our current glorious leader George Bush (I meant president...sorry!) and the situation in the world right now. I'll bet some Iraqis can relate to this song. You could say it is dedicated to the prez. Enjoy.

Buy it here.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes - The Fever

Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes are a very good R&B bar band essentially, with a nice size horn section, from the Jersey shore who came from the same scene as Bruce Springsteen. Miami Steve Van Zandt, Little Steven now, was a member before joining the E Street Band but he ended up being the Jukes producer and main songwriter as well during their 70's heyday. I guess he was a little busy at the time. The Fever has always been a favorite of mine by Southside Johnny with it's Stax/Volt feel with lots of horns and big, layered background vocals over a nice groove and it is another fine song written by that Springsteen fellow mentioned earlier.

Buy it here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Wednesday Power Pop: Bram Tchaikovsky - Girl Of My Dreams

Bram Tchaikovsky was a guitarist in the Motors before heading out on his own to cut the power pop masterpiece Girl Of My Dreams which got quite a bit of airplay on the radio station I listened to in the late 70’s and it has been a favorite of mine since first hearing it. Chiming guitars and some vocal harmony heaven sounds as good today as it did almost thirty years ago. Listening to it now, the music not the vocals, reminds me of Tom Petty from about the same period. Not that surprising actually they probably had some of the same influences. Tom made some pretty good power pop in the late 70's as well.

Buy it here.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Humans - I Live In The City

The Humans
were from my hometown of Santa Cruz and they cut the classic song I Live In The City. It is an up tempo new wave rocker with jittery keyboards, screaming guitar and Sterling Storm's wailing David Byrne like vocals that fit this paranoid take on modern life and groupies in the big city perfectly. The band were signed to I.R.S. records where they released the EP called Play which contained I Live In The City and one full length album called Happy Hour. Apparently that is about it for recorded output. Check out more info about the band here at Mr. Bill's I.R.S. Corner if you are so inclined. I think the first picture you see on the page is actually the Virgin Prunes but I could be mistaken. If anyone knows please leave a comment.

You can buy it here or here.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Instrumental Interlude: Foreigner - Tramontane

Not much time today so I though I would put up an instrumental track. A friend from high school had this on cassette tape (remember them?) and I would sometimes get rides with him so I heard this track more than a few times and always liked it. Foreigner hit it very big with their first album and despite expectations they had an even bigger selling second record with Double Vision which you couldn't escape in 1978 no matter how you tried. If I only had a dime for every time I heard Hot Blooded I would be a rich man now. Tromontane is a synthesizer heavy track with some electric guitar and nothing fancy about it, but it has a nice little groove and some atmosphere. I think it would be perfect on a collection of instrumenal tracks for a road trip, which isn't a bad idea, I will be taking a short one at the end of March. I do all the driving so I can pick the music. To think Foreigner was the inspiration. I will tell you how it comes out after I put it together.

Buy it here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Mick LaSalle On The Oscar Nominations

Mick is one of the best film writers around and he has a brand new column on the Oscar nominations. I don't agree with everything he says, especially about the Chronicles Of Narnia which didn't do much for me, I think he nailed it on the head about Woody Allen who did a fantastic job of directing Match Point. I haven't seen Hustle & Flow which got great reviews and I believe it just came out on dvd which I will check out very soon. Cinderella Man is very good and for some strange reason they decided to put it out in the middle of the summer, which just destroyed it's chances no matter how great the reviews were. I also think Mick was right about Ed Harris in A History Of Violence he should have been nominated for best supporting actor.

Or if you prefer you could listen to a podcast here of Mick.