Monday, October 20, 2014

Although I Laugh and I Act like a Clown

I'm A Loser is the second in the John Lennon trifecta that lead off Beatles For Sale.  And the blue mood started with No Reply just digs itself a deeper hole.   This album is the turning point where John's lyrics become more introspective, and consequently more real.

Just a few of my many favorite moments:
  • John and Paul's exquisite harmonies in the intro
  • The jangle of John's acoustic guitar, followed by Paul's bass entrance
  • John repeatedly hits a low G
  • Paul's walking bass line during the chorus 
  • Ringo's cymbal work
  • John's raunchy harmonica
  • George's country picking on the solo

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I tried to telephone

The first three songs on Beatles For Sale may be my favorite opening trio on any Beatles LP.   All three were written by John Lennon, and they capture him at his early peak.   His songwriting would evolve over the course of the next three years, but these sad melancholy love songs from late 1964 are just my cuppa tea.  John was still fully invested in the Beatles and their future at this point, and for at least a couple of more albums he would lead the way with his amazing songwriting talent.

No Reply was a brave choice for the opening cut.  Of course Paul McCartney's fingerprints are all over this song, from the great harmony work (in tandem with George) to the uptempo middle eight.   But it is John's glorious sense of melody and the emotional explosion with "I Saw The Light..." that just sends this over the top.   His singing turns raw and anguished, and it hits me right in gut.  The acoustic strumming and Ringo's sublime syncopation just add to the atmosphere.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October 9th 1940

Today is John Lennon's birthday.  There is nothing I can say other than I miss him dearly.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I was crying, left to die in this godforsaken place

For the last few months I have been on a Macca jag.  After years of being turned off by his creative low point in the 1980s I have finally embraced his late period renaissance.  With 2005's Chaos and Creation In The Backyard I felt that he was again at the top of his game, writing some of his most personal lyrics and lovely rainy day melodies.  That album is anything but a rock'n'roll album but I love it dearly nonethless.

His follow up release, which consisted mostly of songs started before "Creation", was Memory Almost Full.  Fellow blogger Tim mentioned to me that it is a fine album but for some reason I never jumped on board.  Until now.  I just picked up a used copy of the deluxe release.  On my way home from the record store I listened in stunned amazement.   This album rocks like nothing he has done in ages.  Why I waited seven years to dip my toe is due to a nagging fear that Paul could not keep up the high quality of it's predecessor.  Well I was wrong.

Perhaps the most Wings'ish sounding tune he has written since that band's demise is Only Mama Knows.   Not only does it rock like all get out, but it has a killer hook in the chorus, and when the harmonies kick in the last time around it sends shivers down my spine.   That a man in his sixties could write a power pop classic is a true testament to his inate sense of melody and skill at songwriting.

I just bought "New" so expect reports shortly.

Monday, September 1, 2014

You'll Shine Over Me Today

In 1973-74, Paul McCartney and his band Wings were on fire.  Singles Live and Let Die and Helen Wheels got the ball rolling, followed by the Band On The Run LP and two singles spawned from that triple platinum album, then Paul's great rocker Junior's Farm.   Also during this time Paul produced and co-wrote the music for his brother Mike McGear's 1974 eponymous LP.  And his band Wings came along with the deal, so for all intents and purposes this is a Wings LP with Mike McGear singing lead vocals. 

I bought this LP when it came out based on a glowing review in Stereo Review magazine.  IMHO this album was better than the next Wings LP Venus and Mars.  In fact it is somewhat of a lost treasure.  That said, there are some odd tracks that were clearly more musically risky than anything Paul was willing to commit to on an official Wings' album, but for me that only adds to the charm.  Rainbow Lady might not be the deepest or most expansive track, but it has the effortless Macca tunefulness mixed with some lovely harmony work.

Friday, August 29, 2014

See The Light

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Dwight Twilley and Phil Seymour were not the only 70's power poppers in Tulsa.  I was still in high school in Enid - 120 miles west of Tulsa - when Cargoe released their one and only studio LP on Ardent Records.  Yes, that same Memphis label that spawned Big Star.   And just like Big Star, the record company had immense distribution and financial issues before finally going down the tubes.   The Cargoe LP tanked as one might expect.  But their 1972 single Feel Alright went to #1 in Memphis and received considerable airplay in the South.

Cargoe was not so Beatles and Byrds obsessed as Big Star and their music shows a much broader range of influences.    The Wiki page for Cargoe states "Cargoe epitomized the funky Tulsa sound".   I could not agree more!  If you want to learn more there is a great write up on the band over at Bordel do Rock in which they are referred to as the "American Badfinger".  High praise indeed.

Feel Alright has so much going for it - powerful drumming, a killer jumpy jerking bass line, excellent CSN harmonies, and a complicated verse melody with hooks galore. 

Here is a smokin' live version:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Have You Seen Her Dressed In Blue?

Just because.   I am a marginal fan of the Rolling Stones, but I sure dig their Summer of Love output.  The LP Their Satanic Majesties Request and the single We Love You are quite my cup of tea.  Full flowered psychedelia with a pinch of foreboding.  Here is She's A Rainbow, with that eerie opening piano riff courtesy of Nicky Hopkins.

Ignore the year posted on the YouTube video - this was definitely from 1967.