Thursday, January 7, 2016

How can I take the blame for anything I've done

Here is a hidden treasure from the vaults of 1968.  "My Father's Name Was Dad" by The Fire is one of those never heard gems that shoulda-coulda been a hit.   Like a cross between The Easybeats and The Who it has a chunky driving beat and groovy guitar hook.  Not much more I can tell you about this other than that this is exactly the kind of late life find that keeps me digging through the archives.  I just cannot get enough of this stuff.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

And my mind is proud but it aches with rage

I remain gobsmacked by the pop band Lucius, fronted by two absolutely killer young lady vocalists. Due to job scheduling issues I have now missed them in Portland on three occasions. So the best I can do for now is enjoy their amazing YouTube live performances.

Here is their cover of The Kinks "Strangers", a Dave Davies nugget from "Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneygoround, Pt. 1". I love how this song keeps cropping up. It was used to devastating effect in Wes Anderson's film "The Darjeeling Express". The Lucius girls bring a vocal intensity that this beautiful song richly deserves.

So where are you going to I don't mind 
If I live too long I'm afraid I'll die 
So I will follow you wherever you go 
If your offered hand is still open to me 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

No, you are the Messiah!

"Porpoise Song" is possibly The Monkees finest musical moment in terms of production and music.  Carol King outdid herself in capturing the sad aftermath of the Summer of Love, and her partner Gerry Goffin took George Martin and "I Am The Walrus" to the next level.   The final coda - only on the 45rpm single - is awash in organ, chimes and strings.  As far as I know, Micky Dolenz is the  only actual Monkee on the track.  It is a true one-off, never to be replicated.  I barely remember it from back in the day but it has become a dear favorite.

By the time this was released The Monkees TV show had been canceled and the subversive movie Head was about to crash in the theaters, quite literally.     Preceded by the top 5 showing of "Valeri", then the unfortunate release of "D. W. Washburn", "Porpoise Song" would only climb to 62 on the charts.  Peter Tork ditched the group soon thereafter.  The writing was on the wall but the remaining three held together for a couple more LPs.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

We got no time for your silly toys

Thanks to The Kinks for one of my favorite Christmas songs - one that did not get much airplay back when it came out.   Probably due to the depressing subject matter of the song, but damn if the tune isn't a killer knock-off of Pete Townshend circa "Tommy".

Without further ado, from  1977 here is "Father Christmas":

But the last time I played Father Christmas
I stood outside a department store
A gang of kids came over and mugged me
And knocked my reindeer to the floor

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Road to a Real Good Time

Time for a brief break from my Monkees Marathon for a tune that has been stuck in my head for months.  I am a big fan of the neurotic comedy of Kristen Wiig, and recently watched the movie "Welcome To Me".  Since this is not a film review blog I won't go into details other than to say that Ms. Wiig was fabulous even if the movie itself could have been much tighter.  But during the end credits I heard a song that was new to me.  What I heard was a bizarre amalgamation of the Barry Manilow and Scott Walker, with lyrics that have to be heard to be believed.  The song is "ESP Switch" by Michael Farneti, a South Florida musician on his self produced album Good Morning Kisses.  On first listen I laughed at the outlandish lyrics and enjoyed the groove.  But hell if it has not stuck with me and I find myself dialing it up on Rhapsody on at least a weekly basis.  There is a joy in this song that just floats my boat.  The "is it love?" chorus is pure musical gold.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I have all the time in the world

For many years my least favorite Monkee was Davy Jones.   Not because of his voice, I just did not care for the songs that I associated with him.  Only late in the game did I discover that towards the end of the band - after Peter left - he had developed a knack for finding good songs by interesting songwriters and assisted with producing them.   Probably my favorite of those twilight years Davy songs is "Someday Man".  Originally released as the b-side to Mike's awesome "Listen To The Band", it never made it on an original Monkees LP.   Written by songmeisters Paul Williams and Roger Nichols, it has fine bass line that drives the verses along with an understated horn arrangement.  Then that killer chorus comes in and I get a big smile on my face.   The more I listen to this the more I like it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Standing In A Landslide

In 1968 Michael Nesmith recorded a slew of his songs in Nashville with the apparent intent of including them on an upcoming Monkees LP.   For reasons unknown to me almost none of these tunes had an official releases while the Monkees were still a working entity.   Many would later be covered on Nesmith's fine 1970s solo records.   "Listen To The Band" was one of the few exceptions and was released as a single in 1969.

Many years later Rhino records obtained exclusive license to release a gigantic backlog of unreleased Monkees material.   Between three Missing Links sets and expanded releases of the original albums almost everything they recorded is now available.  Among the gems recorded in Nashville is "St Matthew", a semi psychedelic country number with phased vocals and killer twangy guitar.  Like many Nesmith lyrics these are bathed in pathos. On the surface they tell the story of a woman who lives life in the fast lane, but underneath there lies a sadness that belies the upbeat arrangement that encircles the song.

She walks around on brass rings that never touch her feet
She speaks in conversations that never are complete
And looking over past things that she has never done
She calls herself, "St Matthew" when she is on the run