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Month: August 2005

Gulf Coast Blues

Downright depressing, isn’t it? It’s unfathomable at the moment to take in the amount of havoc, destruction, and chaos that Hurricane Katrina caused along the Gulf Coast. My brother in law and his girlfriend, both residents of New Orleans, now sit in a friend’s home in Birmingham, Alabama, as they watch news reports showing their neighborhood submerged, while the remaining living residents get plucked from rooftops or caught looting on camera. My prayers go out to anyone affected by this disaster…

The Swan Silvertones: Savior, Pass Me Not (mp3) – from the Big Easy Soundtrack

The Neville Brothers: Yellow Moon (mp3 – live at KBCO) – studio version is the title track on their 1989 album

I hear mariachi static on the radio

I feel compelled to post this song because it’s been a recurring one over the last week on my playlists. And I just found that the chords are real simple (just E, A, and B7) so I can grab my acoustic and strum along or entertain my family with my own version. My almost-2 year old can’t tell that the song is about a depressed heroin junkie, it’s only a beautiful piece of music (hmmm, maybe she does know and she’s just not telling me because she can’t). OK, back to “head shoulders knees and toes” when she’s around.

“Carmelita” is on Warren Zevon’s self-titled 2nd album, released almost 30 years ago back in ol’ 76. Warren was a session man in LA for several years prior, and befriended Jackson Browne, who produced this album.

I hear Mariachi static on my radio
And the tubes they glow in the dark
And I’m there with her in Ensenada
And I’m here in Echo Park

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I’m sinking down
And I’m all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Well, I’m sittin’ here playing solitaire
With my pearl-handled deck
The county won’t give me no more methadone
And they cut off your welfare check

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I’m sinking down
And I’m all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Well, I pawned my Smith Corona
And I went to meet my man
He hangs out down on Alvarado Street
By the Pioneer chicken stand

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I’m sinking down
And I’m all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I’m sinking down
And I’m all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Into the Melting Pot

Speechless. How I went 35 years without discovering the wonder and brilliance of this song, I have no idea. I have a lot to learn. I’ve always been familiar with Booker T. & the MG’s, their role in the history of Stax records (backing up such legends as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Wilson Pickett), and their signature song (“Green Onions”); but apparently I’ve lived a sheltered life, because “Melting Pot”didn’t touch my ears until a couple weeks ago. I don’t mean to be a recurring advertisement, but thank you Sirius Satellite Radio. This is why I have you.

“Melting Pot” is the title track from the 1971 album that was the last recording of the MG’s original lineup: Booker T. Jones on Hammond B-3 organ, Steve Cropper on guitar, Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass, and Al Jackson, Jr. on drums. This track sizzles. Listen in particular at around the 2 and a half minute mark when Booker takes off and soars. Amazing…

Booker T. & the MG’s: Melting Pot (mp3)

  • buy the album
  • IckMusic Fact: MG stands for Memphis Group

Hey Joe, Happy Birthday

Joe Strummer should be a young 53 years old today, but as fate would have it, he was plucked from this world almost three years ago. Thanks to this post at Berkeley Place, reminding me of fact that Joe’s birthday is upon us.

Instead of focusing on his legendary Clash days, I offer one pre-Clash and one post-Clash selection. The first comes from ‘Elgin Avenue Breakdown‘, a collection of tunes from Joe’s pre-Clash pub-rock band The 101’ers. Next up is from Joe’s first solo album: 1989’s ‘Earthquake Weather‘. It’s the last cut on the album, the mellow “Sleepwalk” (not to be confused with Santo & Johnny’s popular instrumental).

The 101’ers: Motor Boys Motor (mp3)

Joe Strummer: Sleepwalk (mp3)

Saturday Night Soul wiith Isaac

In the late 60’s, Jimmy Webb moved to LA and wrote the bittersweet tune “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”. Johnny Rivers recorded it soon thereafter, but it was popularized by Glen Campbell’s 1968 version.

But me, I’ll take the soulful Isaac Hayes version any day of the week. Isaac originally released this tune on his 1969 album ‘Hot Buttered Soul’. His rendition clocked in at over 18 minutes. This one’s cut down to a little over 7:00:00 but captures that sweet Stax sound with the omnipresent organ churning away in the background, and Isaac’s opening tale of being cheated on a few too many times. You tell her Isaac.

Isaac Hayes: By the Time I Get to Phoenix (mp3)

Get ready for it

Something is definitely up in Montreal. I recently posted The Arcade Fire, and tonight it’s Montreal-based The Stills. This is an example of a tune where the whole atmosphere changes mid-song, and you find yourself entranced and drawn into it. You know, like the piano /guitar-instrumental last half of “Layla”. There’s beauty here…

The Stills: Ready for It (mp3)

Big Night Music

I finally got my grubby hands once again on one of my favorite albums, Shriekback‘s ‘Big Night Music.’ Hailing from London, Shriekback was made up of Barry Andrews (vocals, keyboards), Dave Allen (bass), and Carl Marsh (vocals/guitar). Andrews was once in XTC, and Allen came from Gang of Four (who incidentally are reunited and on tour). ‘Big Night Music’ was their fourth album, and is pretty much defined by its title. Each song that weaves into the total package sounds and feels like night.

From the liner notes:

Big Night Music – songs to sing in your sleep. Shriekback celebrate the blessed dark – the place where they were always most at home… Big Night Music is the shape and rhythm of two different kinds of nights – nights of heat and weirdness in which we alone are awake, humming with forbidden energy; nights into which we would not send our dogs – wild sea and wet forest and eyes and teeth – or those other nights – fragrant with blossom, incandescent with moonlight and dreams, possessed by a cool beauty which evaporates with the dew…

It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that Big Night Music is entirely free of drum machines, sequencers, Fairlight Page R’s – digital heartbeats of every kind. Seductive though they are, Shriekback have opted to make a different kind of music – one which exalts human frailty and the harmonious mess of nature over the simplistic reductions of our crude computers.

A couple of samples for you: the opener of the album, “Black Light Trap”, and the most downright seductive song, “Exquisite”. This tune will make your most – um – intimate moments with that significant other even more so.

Shriekback: Black Light Trap (mp3) || Exquisite (mp3)

I’ll have to go when the whistle blows

Tonight I hit you with Montreal’s The Arcade Fire, with their version of “Born on a Train”, a Magnetic Fields song. This was performed on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic. I love lead singer Win Butler’s voice, especially on this tune.

The Arcade Fire: Born on a Train (mp3)

The lyrics are oh so post-worthy:

I know that you were never young
And I know you probably won’t get old
But honey nobody’s gonna hurt you anymore
And nobody’s going to make you want to die

But I’ve been making promises I know I’ll never keep
One of these days I’m gonna leave you in your sleep
I’ll have to go when the whistle blows, the whistle knows my name

Baby, I was born on a train.

Some roads you only seen at night
Ghost roads nothing but neon signs.
But some nights the neon gas gets free
And turns into walking dead like me

But I’ve been making promises I know I’ll never keep
One of these days I’m gonna leave you in your sleep
I’ll have to go when the whistle blows, the whistle knows my name

Baby, I was born on a train.

I called one morning cold and grey,
You won’t remember anything
Some of us don’t believe in time,
And some of us don’t believe in life

But I’ve been making promises I know I’ll never keep
One of these days I’m gonna leave you in your sleep
I’ll have to go when the whistle blows, the whistle knows my name

Baby, I was born on a train
Baby, I was born on a train
Baby, I was born on a train
Baby, I was born on a train
Baby, I was born on a train
Baby, I was born on a train..

  • Buy their latest album, Funeral. Go on, do it. I’m watching you.

Brother Jack and Young George

During the month of July 1964, Hammond B-3 whiz Jack McDuff was in a New York studio with tenor sax player Red Holloway, Joe Dukes on drums, and a 21 year old George Benson on guitar. The tracks they recorded were released on assorted LP’s between ’65 and ’69, but were compiled on a 1997 release called Legends of Acid Jazz.

This one will roll you through the mid week. This is their take on Horace Silver’s “Opus de Funk.” The album cover above has nothing to do with this track, but it’s so damn cool, I just had to include it. The world lost Brother Jack in January of 2001 at the age of 74. Another legend who will live on forever through his talent on the B-3.

Jack McDuff: Opus de Funk (mp3)