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I’m gonna catch that horse if I can…

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Remember our little discussion about riding the hook with Little Stevie Winwood?  OK, if we extrapolate that from the dance genre to music as a whole, there’s an argument to be made about edits.  I can’t tell you how often I think, “this song would be great if it was half the length.”   There just aren’t that many pop musical ideas that deserve to go on for more than 2.5-3 minutes.

I love the later period Clarence White/Skip Battin/Gene Parsons/McGuinn Byrds possibly more than is healthy, but not based on their studio output of the era.  No, it’s because of a few live clips – applicable to this discussion is the one for “Chestnut Mare” done on German TV.

Besides being musically great, there’s some humorous elements as well.  McGuinn delivers the worst-metaphor-ever verse with the appropriate amount of smirk, mugging straight into the camera.  I mean, “taking a meal, or BATHING” and “she’ll be just like a wife”?!?   Also, for my fellow nerds out there, to the best of my knowledge, this is the only time a unit of acceleration is used in a rock song (32 feet per second per second!).  Needless to say I find it impossible not to smile while watching.

Visually, besides McGuinn and his loud tie and facial hair, you’ve also got the white-suited guitarist with no stage presence (White), the stoned-looking Roy-Wood-alike bassist delivering the world’s least energetic background vocals (Battin), and a drummer (Parsons) with a fearsome mustache and crazy eyes.  ROCK AND ROLL!!!!!  Well, OK, it’s not the rocking-est rock and roll, but it still rocks.  Also dig the woman announcer floating above the band like the Cheshire cat.

I  mentioned the principle of the edit – well, this version of the song is edited down by about half from the album version that appeared on (UNTITLED).  That’s because the US full-length single flopped, while the edited version issued in the UK went top 20.  Less is more, and more of the hook is better!  Below, you’ll find the link to the UK single version, as well as links to the two other videos that made me love this era of the Byrds.

download “Chestnut Mare”

Jesus Is Just Alright – 9/23/70

A Little Taste Of Eight Miles High – 9/23/70

Categories: Rock

Makes No Sense At All

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I really don’t know jack about Hüsker Dü beyond what I can wikipedia.  Is it enough to mention that “Makes No Sense At All” (along with the rest of FLIP YOUR WIG) has been capable, at high volumes, of making me feel better on a crap day?  I don’t know whether it was because it sounded angrier than I was, or whether spending a week in Minnesota recently meant that whatever’s in the water there has gotten to me, and that I’m a week away from thinking the Replacements are the greatest band in history.

Hopefully the former, although I really thought I was past the point in my life where I could cure existential angst with angry music.  I mean, I don’t spend a lot of time listening to Black Flag any more, ya know?  Although I did catch myself buying a Minor Threat single (my end-of-high-school-what-comes-next favorite “Salad Days”) recently, so maybe I’m not so grown up as I thought.

download

Categories: Rock

Today’s Sound Today – Be Stiff!

September 22, 2010 Leave a comment

If yesterday’s post wasn’t your cup of tea, hopefully this is.  DEVO, a band which I have grown to love more and more over the last few years, released a few singles independently in the UK at a time when nobody in the US would touch them with a ten-foot pole.  Besides earlier versions of some of their famous songs, like “Mongoloid” and “Satisfaction,” they had the good grace to contribute a theme song to the Stiff Records label (also home to Elvis Costello’s earliest efforts).

Produced by Eno, who also produced Q: ARE WE NOT MEN A: WE ARE DEVO, Be Stiff does sort of sound like a B side (although it was the A!), but in the best possible way.  You (or maybe just I) can totally imagine an alternate universe where Polynomial Records took DEVO and their debut single “Gut Feeling” b/w “Be Stiff” to the top of the US charts.  Alas, t’wasn’t to be, and DEVO would have to Whip It Good before anyone in the US would stop calling them Fascists or Nihilists or whatever words they were using back then to describe conceptual art they didn’t understand (probably be called Socialists today by the same group of nitwits).

DEVO, as they declared themselves in the title to their Rhino anthology, truly were pioneers.  Their early stuff still sounds fresh and different today, and they’re still around!  Hope they make it up here to Heidiville some time in the future.

download

Categories: Rock

Love Love Love

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

To interested parties: I’m not dead, I own lots more 45s than last time I posted, and I promise I’m going to spend some time this weekend converting it to digital.  Fair?  Summer vacation is O-vah!

Today’s make-up-for-lost-time post is by a guy who many consider a 1-hit wonder, Bobby Hebb.  Mr Hebb, who passed in early August (RIP), was most famous for “Sunny,” the song that took the truck driver gear shift (or modulation, if you prefer) to new and questionable extremes.  “Love Love Love” is not a mere device for repeating the same verse over and over and passing it off as a song, however – it’s a burner that will orbit your brain like a hungry IT guy circles the leftovers from a lunch meeting.

Hebb was the son of two blind musicians who grew up singing on the streets of Nashville and in the Grand Ol’ Opry(!).  Somewhat unusually for artists of his era (and soul artists particularly), he wrote many of his own songs – though not our featured selection. (“Love Love Love” was co-written by the producer Jerry Ross, who produced Hebb as well as producing Jay and the Techniques and Spanky and Our Gang, and importing Shocking Blue’s Venus from the Netherlands.)

A bit on what makes “Love Love Love” great – everything.  The opening drum rolls with horns, piano and vibes.  The soul-thereal background vocals.  The unique voice – not earthy, almost square, yet fitting the song perfectly.  The chord changes, including some Marvelettes-y dark sounding stuff!!  The silly but short sax solo.  The fact that the song only lets up at the end of a few verses, mostly so you (the dancing fool) can catch your breath – ’cause when it’s going, it books!   The fact that I just listened to it again several times to assemble all these points of awesomeness and don’t hate it even though it’s now stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Negatives: OK, I’ll give you that the lyrics are trite, but well-intentioned.  No better or worse than any other love song of the era.

The A side of “Love Love Love” – “A Satisfied Mind” – went to 39 on the Billboard according to wikipedia, failing to match “Sunny” which peaked at #2.  Should have flipped it, I think, because when I first heard “Love Love Love” I must have played it about fifteen times in a row.  No joke, I’m not exaggerating – and I can tell you that with all the new-to-me music I consume, that almost NEVER happens.  I can only imagine a that a DJ of the era would have reacted much the same, as long as you slid a crisp twenty in the record sleeve.  Somewhat proving my point, a 1972 UK reissue with “Love Love Love” as the A-side went to #32 on that country’s charts, largely thanks to the Northern scene.

I wasn’t expecting this from the guy who gave us “Sunny.”  “Love Love Love” is an absolute monster!

Love Love Love

Categories: Funky