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Month: March 2006

Mellencamp’s Big Daddy

mellencamp

Damn the torpedoes, tonight my attention turns to John Mellencamp, and a couple of gems off his 1989 release ‘Big Daddy’. I’ve always paid attention to John’s work, and have several of his albums, though I really haven’t paid much mind to the last 10-12 years. On every album, there would always be a song or two that I got very excited about, but most of the time the rest of the tunes just didn’t stack up for me.

But man, he’s had some great tunes over the years: the early stuff obviously… “Jack & Diane”, “Tumblin’ Down”, “Authority Song”… and later on with tunes like “Key West Intermezzo”, “Last Chance”, and “Now More than Ever.”

But it’s these couple of tunes from ‘Big Daddy’ that rank right up there as my all time JM faves. “Jackie Brown” is my favorite. Beautiful acoustic guitars, and haunting lyrics about a down and out and desperate man…

Is this your grave, Jackie Brown?
This little piece of limestone that says another desperate man took
himself out.
Is this your dream, Jackie Brown?
Going nowhere and nowhere fast
We shame ourselves to watch people like this live.
But who gives a damn about Jackie Brown?
Just another lazy man who couldn’t take what was his.
One helluva life Jackie Brown.
Forevermore, Jackie Brown
Amen and amen – Jackie Brown?

The last hidden track on ‘Big Daddy’ is a cover of the Hombres’ “Let it All Hang Out”, a barnburnin’ rocker that get your feet a-shakin’.

John Mellencamp: Jackie Brown (mp3) | Let it all Hang Out (mp3) – both from Big Daddy

Bruce goes back to Freehold

ticket

In November of ’96, Bruce returned to his hometown, Freehold, New Jersey, to perform at a benefit for the St. Rose of Lima School. It was his first performance there in nearly 30 years. He wrote a song especially for the occasion: “In Freehold”.

He pulled the song out a few years later on tour w/ the E Street Band. This one comes from a July 18, 1999 performance at the Continental Arena at the Meadowlands. It’s a loose, witty, hilarious, and ultimately bittersweet tune. There’s a good deal of crowd noise here, but it doesn’t take away from the quality, it only enhances it, as you really feel the intimate interaction with the crowd.

Bruce Springsteen: In Freehold (mp3) – recorded live, Meadowlands, NJ, 07-18-99

Steve Forbert’s Strange

Just passing along another tune heard on Sirius Disorder… another singer-songwriter type that I’ve heard of, but never has gone much beyond that. But thanks to non-terrestrial, non-commercial radio, the good tunes just keep on coming. A lot of tunes that have been around a while, that never made a blip on my music radar.

Forbert’s first album, ‘Alive on Arrival’, was released in 1978. Ten years later, he made a comeback of sorts with ‘Streets of this Town’, produced by E Street Band bassist Gary Tallent. This particular song comes from his 2000 release, ‘Evergreen Boy’. Take a listen.

Steve Forbert: Strange (mp3) – from Evergreen Boy.

Going Global with Joe

Joe Strummer

Dick Rude, a long time friend of Joe Strummer, is releasing an hour long movie on DVD this summer entitled ‘Let’s Rock Again!’.

The one-hour film was shot over the last 18 months of Joe’s life. “It has been my blessing to share with the world an intimate portrait of such a passionate and humble man,” Rude said in a statement “Joe was a true hero. His music changed people’s lives. His love affected me profoundly. I am proud of the story he has allowed me to tell, but I would trade it all in a heartbeat to have him back.” Let’s Rock Again! opens with a montage of Clash-era footage of Strummer before ultimately settling into his stint fronting the Mescaleros. The film includes some stunning live performance footage and both frank and amusing interviews with Joe. (- from Strummersite.com)

Here’s a preview tune from the movie, a Mescaleros live version of “Global a Go-Go”. Hop on over to Stummersite for more info on the movie, and other Joe / Mescaleros stuff.

Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros: Global a Go-Go (live) (mp3) – Original version found on Global a Go-Go, released in the summer of 2001.

Get Funky with Cameo and Zapp

Larry Blackmon and the boys from Cameo start the weekend off right with one of their hits on the R&B charts, from their pre-“Word Up”, pre-“Single Life” days. These guys will always have a spot reserved in the Ickmusic Hall of Fame. My buddy Chris and I saw them three times when we were in high school. Two of the few funky white boys in attendance at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. Same place we saw Zapp with the late Roger Troutman. Those were the days…

Cameo: Flirt (mp3) – buy Cameo’s Greatest Hits.

Zapp: Dance Floor (mp3) – buy Zapp II

Prince’s Party House

I tell you, sometimes this blog just writes itself. The latest Prince news is that the landlord of his rented West Hollywood home (70,000 smackers a month!!), Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer, sued him for violating the lease agreement. The list of infractions drills right to the core of the eccentric purple man:

  • “painting the exterior of the [house] with purple striping”, ‘Prince symbol’, and the numbers ‘3121’.
  • “installing purple monogrammed carpet” in the master bedroom.
  • the installation of plumbing, piping, and excavation of a “large hole” for the presumed purpose of a private beauty salon.

You mean I’m not the only one who has a home beauty salon in a hole? I feel so unoriginal now!

Man, 70 G’s a Month

Prince: Housequake (7 Minutes mo’ Quake) [mp3] – from the 12″ extended remix single of “Hot Thing”. Original version found on Sign o’ the Times.

On the Mellow Side with Garcia and Grisman

This is more of an end of the weekend mellow post, but it’s just gonna have to do as a beginning of the week-er. One of the tunes that Bruce and his Seeger Sessions Band performs on the new album is “Shenandoah”. I’ve been fond of the song since I was a kid. We used to sing it in music / choir class in 8th grade (shout out to Mrs. Wynstra at Jerstad Jr. High in Racine, WI!! – holla!).
One of my favorite renditions of the song is done by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman on their ‘Not for Kids Only’ album, released in 1993. The mandolin shines on this song, especially during the ending lullaby melody.

David Grisman & Jerry Garcia: A Shenandoah Lullaby (mp3) – buy Not for Kids Only

Rev it up Boss!

In Bruce news, if you haven’t heard, Bruce is scheduled to release a whole album of folk tunes popularized by Pete Seeger. If there’s one thing we know, it’s Bruce loves his folk! The acoustic-oriented “quiet” albums like Nebraska, The Ghost of Tom Joad, and his last release, Devils & Dust. So two in a row! Rare for the man. I’m looking forward to it, though it’s been widely noted that I would buy an album comprised only of Bruce farts and belches.

The new one will be called “The Seeger Sessions”, and features a whole bunch of folks joining in to play…. Sam Bardfeld, Jeremy Chatzky, Lisa Lowell, Frank Bruno, Soozie Tyrell, Mark Pender, Charles Giordano, Ed Manion, Larry Eagle, Mark Clifford, Patti Scialfa, and Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg. Soozie is the violin player that’s been touring with Bruce & the E Street Band. I’ll have to do some serious Googlin’ to find out more about the rest.

Find out more about the album on Bruce’s web site.

Here’s a Woody Guthrie tune that Bruce performed at a W.G. Tribute, which made its way on to the album ‘Til We Outnumber ‘Em. If you have young kids, crank this up, they’ll love the “vroom boom chick boom”s….

Bruce Springsteen: The Car Song (mp3) – from Til We Outnumber ‘Em.

A Longer Dose of Computer Blues

from Purple Rain

Well, if you’ve been reading Ickmusic, you know that I like-a-da little Prince man. And you might know that his latest ALBUM, 3121, is unleashed to the world this Tuesday, March 21st. So do yourself a favor, listen to a couple of tunes by the man, then head over to Amazon to buy 3121. Cool? Cool.

A couple of relative rarities for you. First off, a couple of gems from ‘Purple Rain’. If you’ve ever heard the album, which most of us over say, 30, have, then you’ve heard “Computer Blue” segue into “Darling Nikki”. But did you know there’s a whole ‘nother section of “Computer Blue” that was edited out of the album. Well color you purple, go on and listen to it…

Prince & the Revolution: Computer Blue (extended), Darling Nikki (mp3)

And then check out this outtake from the Oscar-worthy (cough cough) film soundtrack, Graffiti Bridge.

Prince: The Grand Progression (mp3)

Buy 3121 (and any and all other Prince albums) at Amazon.

And my old buddy Chris in Miami is seeing the man live this Saturday night. Chris, you best post a review here afterwards…

St Patty’s Day

a bodhran

St. Patty’s Day, our adopted amateur drinking holiday, is upon us again. Gone are the days when I took a day off from work to meet my friends at Murphy’s Irish Pub before noon, and stuff my face with corned beef and cabbage and a multitude of Guinness pints. The family man can’t negotiate great outings like that any longer. My St. Patty’s Day will most likely consist of a pint or two after work with some friends, then back home with a 4-pack of those tall Guinness cans (or Murphy’s Irish Stout if I can find it).

Michael Senft of The Arizona Republic (our major newspaper here in Arizona) wrote a good article on the local Irish music scene here in the Phoenix area (which is surprisingly strong). There was a cool little side article describing all of the instruments used in Irish music. So in the “Did You Know?” department, here they are:

The instruments of Irish music

  • Accordion: Irish music uses melodeons, concertinas and button accordions primarily. These instruments are much smaller than the Lawrence Welk-style piano accordion and use rows of button instead of piano keys.
  • Bodhran: Pronounced bow-rahn. An Irish drum made from a goatskin stretched over a wooden frame. It is either played with one hand or with a small wooden mallet called a tipper.
  • Bouzouki: This stringed instrument from Greece looks like an oversized mandolin. It was popularized in Celtic music by Johnny Moynihan and Andy Irvine of the 60’s Irish band Sweeney’s Men and has become an essential part of Irish music.
  • Fiddle: The mainstay of Irish music. Fiddle styles vary depending on the region of Ireland.
  • Flute:: Irish music uses a wood flute that has a simpler construction and a mellower tone compared with its more typical metal cousin.
  • Harp: The Irish harp is much smaller than its classical cousin and is not widely used anymore. Harps are known to modern ears through the ancient songs of Turlough O’Carolan and the efforts of musical scholars like the late Derek Bell of the Chieftains.
  • Pennywhistle: An inexpensive (hence its name) metal cousin of the recorder, the pennywhistle is easy to learn and difficult to master.
  • Tenor Banjo: Unlike its American cousin, the tenor banjo only has four strings and lacks a resonator, giving it a distinct, percussive tone.
  • Uilleann pipes: Irish version of bagpipes. Uilleann pipes use bellows to the fill the bag with air rather than having the piper blow into them. They are quieter than Scottish bagpipes but have a shriller tone.

Every week on Sirius Disorder, there’s a show hosted by Black 47‘s Larry Kirwan called Celtic Crush. It’s 3 hours of great Irish music interspersed with anecdotes and commentary by Larry. Last week’s show included a song by Sharon Shannon and Dessie O’Halloran called “Say You Love Me”. Larry talked about how it reminded him of the great country Irish dance halls of the 60’s and 70’s. They were very structured, in that the band would always play 3 fast songs, and 3 slow ones (I think those were the numbers). The fast songs would be spent searching for the girl or guy of your dreams. and the slow songs allowed them to get better acquainted, and for the guys to try to seal the deal. In between the fast songs, girls would line up on one side, and guys on the other. When the bandleader uttered the right words, the race was on for the guys to rush over and ask a girl to dance. There were a lot of “no”s involved (Kirwan was the recipient of a lot of them), but if the fates allowed, love would blossom in the Irish countryside (or at least one quality one night stand!).

As for the song itself, it’s one of those that you hum to yourself for the next couple of days. O’Halloran’s vocals are great, raw and unique. Sharon Shannon is a master of the accordion and the fiddle, and both are featured in this tune. This’ll put a pep in your step…

Sharon Shannon w/ Dessie O’Halloran: Say You Love Me (mp3) – from The Diamond Mountain Sessions (2001)

Have a safe St. Patrick’s Day, wherever you are. If you’re going to start drinking before noon, don’t forget to boil the breakfast early…

The Chieftains: Boil the Breakfast Early (mp3) – buy the Best of the Chieftains