The Friday Five: November 27, 2009

Friday Five : ˈfrī-(ˌ)dā,-dē ˈfīv : On the sixth day of every week I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

Editor’s Note: My tryptophan-addled brain completely failed to realize that it was Friday until just about an hour ago, despite the fact that I’m working! Here’s a ‘live’ five for you to enjoy this weekend!

The Five:

Sunny Day Real Estate – “Pheurton Skeurto” (from Sunny Day Real Estate, 1994)

A quiet island in a stormy sea, “Pheurton Skeurto” is a jaunty sea shanty with impossible lyrics and one of my favorite tracks on the seminal emo band’s self-titled debut.

The Beatles – “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” (mp3) (from Help!, 1965)

Lennon’s attempts at incorporating the folk influences of the day (specifically Bob Dylan) provide us with one of the most beautiful tunes in The Beatles catalog.

Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch – “Good Vibrations” (from Music for the People, 1991)

Occasionally the shuffle button betrays me. This could be one of those occasions.

Bush – “Machinehead” (from Sixteen Stone, 1994)

I’m going to go on record here and say that I never disliked Bush, but I never liked them all that much either. Of all their post-grunge (lite) tunes, this one was always a favorite.

Anthrax – “I’m the Man (Def Uncensored version)” (mp3) (from I’m the Man, 1987)

I’m so bad, I should be in detention.

What’s keeping you going on this Black Friday?

Video: Steve Earle at Amoeba Records

I knew I subscribed to Amoeba’s video RSS feed for a reason! Once in a while, they post a gem. Case in point today: Steve Earle.

Here’s Steve’s 45 minute in-store performance from back in May. But be sure to check out the insightful 13 minute interview too, where he discusses his early years as a Nashville songwriter, his former drug habit, The Wire, Radiohead’s refusal to play “Creep”, and even Telluride, Colorado.

In the words of Steve: Telluride is “too high to support intelligent life. I’ve seen that proven over and over and over again.” Good thing my folks only live there five months out of the year!

In-Store Set List:

Rex’s Blues (Townes Van Zandt)
Fort Worth Blues
Pancho & Lefty (TVZ)
Brand New Companion (TVZ)
Rich Man’s War
Lungs (TVZ)
Copperhead Road

Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ (the Buffalo Tour Finale)

For those interested in downloading Sunday’s tour finale in Buffalo (where Bruce and the band performed Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ), head on over to super top-notch blog Addicted to Vinyl, where Matt’s got a zip file of goodness for you…

Greetings from Buffalo, NY (Addicted to Vinyl)

If you’re looking for other full album shows, don’t forget my recent posts:

Darkness in Philly (10/22/09, Philadelphia)
Bruce Takes NYC Down To The River (11/08/09, NYC)
Bruce’s Wild & Innocent Night in NYC (11/07/09, NYC)

Looks like we still need Born to Run and Born In The U.S.A., eh?

Robbie Robertson’s Storyville

Not long ago, I unearthed an old cassette of Robbie Robertson‘s Storyville album. I’m trying to figure out my thought process during the LP/cassette/early CD years. Specifically, why I ever chose to buy cassettes – the least reliable and most easily damaged format possible. Well, I know why, actually. It was the car cassette player. Tunes in the car were mandatory – and the cassette was the only way to listen to your tunes on the road.

So I’d walk out of the record store every time with either an LP and a blank tape (later a CD and a blank tape), or the officially released cassette. Storyville was released in 1991, and I opted for the cassette only.

Paying homage to the Storyville section of New Orleans, the album features a who’s who of the Louisiana sound: a handful of Nevilles, the Rebirth Brass Band, George Porter, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Big Chief Bo Dollis… and a bunch of Robertson’s friends also make appearances: fellow Band members Rick Danko and Garth Hudson, Ginger Baker, Bruce Hornsby, Neil Young, Mike Mills, David Baerwald, and on and on and on….

It’s definitely an album to be ingested as a whole, since it sets an atmosphere and takes you on a journey through some great stories and characters. One of my favorites is this tune…

Robbie Robertson – Day of Reckoning (Burnin’ for You) [mp3] – from Storyville

The Friday Five: November 20, 2009

Friday Five : ˈfrī-(ˌ)dā,-dē ˈfīv : On the sixth day of every week I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

Foo Fighters – “This Is a Call” (mp3) (from Foo Fighters, 1995)

From the “Fraiser” of spin-off bands, this single was the official death knell for Grunge and the launch of a wave of the radio-friendly post-grunge alternative music that still rules the airwaves today. The thing that gets most often overlooked is the fact that, outside of some small guitar parts by Afghan Whigs mastermind Greg Dulli, the entire record was written and performed by Dave Grohl himself.

Prince – “Temple House Dub (fade)” (from Thieves in the Temple, 1990)

Once upon a time Prince would release singles. These singles would include, at minimum, three to four remixes and alternate versions, not to mention b-sides. The b-sides were often as good (see: “Love or $”, “17 Days”) and oft times better (see: “Erotic City”, “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore”) than the single itself. By the early ‘90s he was swept up with the advent of the ‘CD Maxi Single’ and used the format to its fullest extent creating EP length masterpieces. I miss those singles.

Joan Osbourne – “Midnight Train to Georgia” (from Breakfast in Bed, 2007)

In his last installment of Chart Attack!, Jason Hare exposed the true inspiration behind the Motown classic. I’m a huge fan of the original and had the pleasure of seeing the Indigo Girls perform it with Spearhead and (ironically) Joan Osbourne as guests. This version, however, is far too mellow and feels forced and utterly lacking in the soul that is tied to the very fabric of the tune itself.

Gary Moore – “Still Got the Blues” (mp3) (from Still Got the Blues, 1990)

Okay, listen to this (Ex. 1). Now, listen to this (Ex. 2). Sounds a bit similar, no? I remember learning this song earlier on in my bedroom rock star days and thinking “how the hell did he get away with that?” And in researching the track for this post, it turns out that he didn’t. What’s worse is it wasn’t even Lionel that took him to court, rather an obscure German band who claimed – and won a settlement in 2008 – that their 1974 single “Nordrach” was the track that Moore allegedly plagiarized.

Band of Horses – “Our Swords” (from Everything All the Time, 2006)

As the hordes of decade end lists come pouring in – you can follow the action at largehearted boy – the one omission that I’m most consistently surprised by is the debut record by Band of Horses. Taking elements of country, folk, southern rock and an indie rock ethos the band were darlings of the music blogs in 2006, and their follow up Cease to Begin only cemented them as a band to watch in the coming years. Perhaps their upcoming release will bring them the mainstream success they so richly deserve.

That’s my five, what’s spinning you right ‘round this week?

Darkness in Philly

As bootlegs go, the tour that supported Bruce’s Darkness on the Edge of Town has to be my favorite (followed closely by The River). My favorite show? Without question, it’s July 7th, 1978 at the Roxy – a small club show in L.A. The quality is perfect, the intensity unmatched. In fact, let me play it now…. *click click*   ….. okay, that’s better.

So by popular demand, here’s the recent Darkness show at the Spectrum in Philly. Can you believe we’re down to only two shows left on this tour?? After Friday in Baltimore, and Sunday in Buffalo (with a full performance of Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ), that is it, folks. Sort of depressing, isn’t it?

As for the future of the E Street Band, I’ll quote Little Steven from this Rolling article: “…if you ask me if I think we’ll continue I’ll certainly say yes. It’s just a matter of what happens to everybody physically, beginning with Clarence [Clemons] I suppose. He may fantasize about retiring, but with all his ex-wives I doubt it.”

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Philadelphia, PA
October 14th, 2009
“Darkness on the Edge of Town”

Part I

The Ties That Bind
What Love Can Do
Hungry Heart
Working on a Dream
Intro to Darkness on the Edge of Town
Adam Raised a Cain
Something in the Night
Candy’s Room
Racing in the Street
The Promised Land
Streets of Fire

Part II

Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Waiting on a Sunny Day
Sherry Darling
Human Touch
Long Walk Home
The Rising
Born to Run
Detroit Medley
American Land
Dancing in the Dark
Flying High (Theme to Rocky)
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Let Him Roll

Guy Clark hit my radar after I got into Steve Earle in the 90’s. I started digging deeper into the “outlaw” singer/songwriters from the state of Texas. People like Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Joe Ely, and Townes Van Zandt. I still have a long way to go with exploring the rich catalogs of these guys. My most recent pick-up on eMusic was The Essential Guy Clark, which I will make a point of spending plenty of time with in the near future.

I heard “Let Him Roll” on Sirius a while ago, and was struck – as I always am with these guys – by the vivid, colorful, and genuine imagery in the storytelling….


It was white port that put that look in his eye,
Grown men get when they need to cry.
We sat down on the curb to rest,
And his head just fell down on his chest.

He says: “Every single day it gets,
“Just a little bit harder to handle and yet. . .”
Then he lost the thread and his mind got cluttered,
And the words just rolled off down the gutter.

It’s a tale of a down on his luck wino – in love with a prostitute from Dallas. He’s at the end of his road, and the narrator tells the story of his sad demise…

Guy Clark – Let Him Roll (mp3) –  from The Essential Guy Clark

Bruce Takes NYC Down To The River

With only four shows left on the Working On A Dream tour (wrapping up in Buffalo on November 22nd), and with much buzz about how the band will be taking some sort of extended hiatus, now’s the time to savor and cherish what Bruce and the Band have been bringing all year – and that’s night after night of powerhouse performances.

The tour started out in April with a healthy dose of tracks from Working On A Dream. Last night in Detroit, only the title track was played. The tour has morphed into more of a special treat for the fans – including full album performances, sign requests, and even Bruce regularly crowd surfing during “Hungry Heart”.

As I mentioned in last week’s The Wild, The Innocent post, a couple of special nights took place in New York City last weekend. Saturday was a full performance of The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle,  and Sunday was Bruce’s 1980 classic The River.

The River is special to me because it was the album in which I first became aware of Bruce Springsteen. I was only 10 years old, but my older brother Dave became a fan – and he got the chance to go see Bruce when the tour rolled though Minneapolis. “Fade Away” was the first 45 I ever owned. Sides 3 and 4 (“Point Blank” thru “Wreck on the Highway”) have probably had more playtime in my life than any other album (okay, right along with Purple Rain)…  it’s the slow burners like “Point Blank”, “Stolen Car”, “Fade Away”, “Wreck on the Highway”, and of course “Drive All Night” that still resonate so deeply within me. The River is a masterpiece, in my opinion, and last weekend, he played it straight through for an appreciative NYC crowd…

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Madison Square Garden – New York City
November 8, 2009

Part I
Wrecking Ball
Introduction to the River
Ties that Bind
Sherry Darling
Jackson Cage
Two Hearts
Independence Day
Hungry Heart
Out in the Street
Crush On You
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)

Part II
I Wanna Marry You
The River
Point Blank
Cadillac Ranch
I’m a Rocker
Fade Away
Stolen Car
Price You Pay
Drive All Night
Wreck on the Highway

Part III
Waiting on a Sunny Day
Atlantic City
Born to Run
Seven Nights to Rock
Sweet Soul Music
No Surrender
American Land
Dancing in the Dark
Can’t Help Falling in Love
Higher and Higher

The Friday Five: November 13, 2009

Friday Five : ˈfrī-(ˌ)dā,-dē ˈfīv : On the sixth day of every week I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

Editor’s Note: While short on time it occurred to me that I always have time for some twitter-sized goodness so once again, this week’s five is all in 140 characters or less. @michaelparr

The Five:

Prince & The Revolution – “Paisley Park” (from Around the World in a Day, 1995)

Paisley Park is in your heart. I’ve spent a bit of time considering my ‘Desert Island’ discs lately, and I keep coming back to this record.

The Damnwells – “Down With the Ship” (mp3) (from One Last Century, 2009)

My earliest contender for album of the year, this record delivers on every level. You can help the band fund their next release here.

Weezer – “Buddy Holly” (from Weezer, 1994)

Save for “Say It Ain’t So” and playing “Undone – The Sweater Song” on Rock Band, I rarely listen to Weezer. I do still love those songs.

Janet Jackson – “Control” (mp3) (from Control, 1986)

This really should have been billed as Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis – “Control” (feat. Janet Jackson), I’m just saying.

Camera Obscura – “French Navy” (from My Maudlin Career, 2009)

Another contender for album of the year,My Maudlin Career is the happiest group of utterly depressing songs you’ll ever listen to.
What’s next on your shuffle?

A Nod to the the Gipsy Kings

Almost 5 years running, and I’ve never even mentioned the Gipsy Kings on this blog? For shame, Pete. The Rumba Catalana sound of the Gipsy Kings have been bringing audiences and listeners joy for more than 20 years now (13 for me) – it’s near impossible to listen to their music and not feel the tension lift.

I first became aware of them in a Mexican-style cantina in Salzburg, Austria back in 1996. I was traveling with my mom and dad, who were living near London at the time. When they were hitting the sack in the 500 year old hotel (the Elefant), it was time for me to hit the town. My first stop was this cool little cantina across the Salzach River. As I sat at the bar sipping my beer, this wonderful sound of latin rhythms came immediately to my attention. I asked the bartender who it was, and the rest is history.

When I got back home to Arizona, I immediately bought The Best of the Gipsy Kings – and it has served admirably since… on road trips, at backyard barbecues, house parties… It’s simply the type of music – this more pop-oriented style of flamenco – that satisfies the soul. You put on some Gipsy Kings music, and you make people happy. Plain and simple.

As for the band itself, its eight members make up two families – five from the Reyes family, and three from the Baliardo family. Anyone new to the band wouldn’t probably guess that all eight members were born in France – but it’s true. Their parents fled Catalonia (Spain) during the Spanish Civil War, and ended up in Arles and Montpelier, in southeast France.

I may be preaching to the choir with a lot of you, but if it happens that you haven’t yet experienced the sounds of the Gipsy Kings, get one of the two collections below. You’ll be happy.

The Gipsy KingsBaila Me (mp3)

This and many other great songs can be found here (click the covers):