Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Million Hours to Dream

Here is a little nugget of power pop heaven from 1979,  Dwight Twilley with Alone in My Room.  I tend to wax poetic when discussing my hometown rocker.  Back during his brief brush with fame in the mid-70s I would preach to the unwashed in an attempt to gain some converts.   With the benefit of hindsight I can see that his heartfelt marriage of Beatles, rockabilly, and glam was just too out of step with current trends.   However for me the joy continues, and I have discovered a fantastic back catalog of albums right up to the present day.  I hope to be posting some of those hidden gems soon.

This track kicks off with a tasty guitar riff fighting against the counterpoint of the bass line.  One of the great features of this song is the front-and-center guitar work.  But the chorus just kills me.   This should have been a GIANT hit!

Monday, August 18, 2014

A shameful display, sung in some impermanent place

Every few years a new band comes along that gets up my hopes that the next big thing may be in the works.   The last band to trip my trigger - Tame Impala from Perth Australia - produced a killer first LP.   All fuzzed out in modern day trance psych, I really though they were contenders.  But their second LP was a big letdown, full of retread ideas and a drop off in energy level.

Recently I latched on to Temples, a new UK band that formed in 2012.   Several listens to their first album Sun Structures has me convinced that they might be the one.   I am really trying hard not to go overboard just yet, but the musical evidence so far is mighty fine.   Their influences include early Pink Floyd and T-Rex, with Byrds and Beatles definitely in the mix.

Their late 2013 single Keep In the Dark is the subject of today's post.  It kicks off with a glam drum stomp, then builds until a sing along chorus is followed by a high voice and mellotron flute, taking the listener into Moody Blues territory.  Then at the 2:00 minute mark an unknown instrument (bass sax, fuzzed out bass?) takes the song to a whole new level of psychedelic fab-ness.

I just discovered that they will be in Seattle and Portland next month, so tickets must be purchased forthwith.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

And no, it is not dangerous to confuse children with angels

Annie Lennox soars into the heavens with There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart).  It is a lovely throwback to the late 60s Tamla/Motown vibe, but updated with typical 80s synthesizers.  The harmonica solos by Stevie Wonder just add to the bliss.

And unrelated, except for having "Angel" in the title, is the show stopper title song from the too bizarre to be real movie "Angel Angel Down We Go".  This 1969 flick starring Jennifer Jones is on my must see list, as soon as I can snag a DVD copy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Take It Tony

From Wing's much maligned first LP Wildlife, here is Little Richard Paul McCartney cranking up the volume and rocking out like nobody's business on Mumbo.  Frankly I always loved this album.  Granted a lot of folks - who also hated Ram - groused about the lack of studio finesse.  But for me this album has a bit of everything that Paul does so well.  Great melodies, interesting harmonies, and the ability to rock out.   Sure Mumbo has little to offer in the lyrics department, but Paul's bass and Denny Seiwell's drumming just tear it up.  And then there are those awesome organ interjections and the energy level just keeps pumping all the way through. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The cat in satin trousers said it's oily

In light of the recent announcement of the next two archive releases from Paul McCartney and Wings, here is the white hot live-in-the-studio version of Soily from the One Hand Clapping film.  I have never understood why a studio version of this song was never released.  A fine live version appeared on the Maybe I'm Amazed (live) 45 b-side, but this OHC version  just smokes it.  Apparently Paul intended it to be part of the planned two-record release of Red Rose Speedway but that was cut to a single LP before release.

Every time I watch and listen to this performance on the Band on the Run archive release DVD I contemplate what an album full of stompers like this might have done for Wing's image back in the day.  Along with Junior's Farm, this is as heavy as McCartney ever got outside of the Beatles.  Anyway, I just love this song to death.  Also dig Linda jigging about in the background, looking too cool for school.  Big time Linda fan here!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Some Just Shapeless Forms

Let's bring this summer's psychedelic party across the water to my home turf.  Easily one of the earliest and most musically adventurous journeys into the realm of otherworldliness.  Written mostly by Gene Clark, with one great line of lyrics provided by David Crosby and IMHO the most amazing guitar work ever committed to vinyl thanks to Roger McGuinn - of course I am referring to Eight Miles High.  Sadly this was to be the Byrds last venture into the US top twenty.

Gene Clark would be gone before the song was released but his stamp is all over the place in the vocal melody and lyrics.   Banned by some radio stations due to its supposed drug influences, a close listen to the lyrics tell me that it is about so much more.  I see it as a poetic reflection on the loneliness of travel through the prism of an outsider.   The novel musical arrangement shows that The Byrds were ahead of the game.  Released in March of 1966, this single beat the Beatles to the psychedelic punch of Revolver by six months.

From Chris Hillman's opening leaping bass line and Crosby's chugging rhythm guitar rise that unmistakable McGuinn twelve string frenzy - all free form jazz and sounding like nothing before (or after).  Every time I hear those gorgeous three part vocal harmonies they put a lump in my throat.

Rain gray town
Known for its sound
In places, small faces abound

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I’m Just a Stranger Here

Here is the scenario:
  • a rock band from St. Louis MO is offered a deal with Capitol Records in 1968.
  • the band turns down the offer but is given the name of an A/R man with EMI in London
  • the band flies to London, plays a demo for the EMI man, and gets a record deal
  • hailed as the next Beatles, the band is given a £35,000 budget to record an LP
  • during the recording in 1969 one band member quits
  • the album is completed, the band heads back to Missouri only to lose another member due to a family issue
  • EMI backs out of releasing the LP because there is no longer a band to tour and promote it
  • 34 years later, in 2003, the album is release on CD
The band is the Aerovons, and apparently the only record released while they were still active was an EMI single in the UK.   I stumbled upon the CD recently and was both amazed and amused.  The LP is chock full of McCartney-esque piano pop, sometimes sung with a John Lennon tone.   The songs are quite tuneful though many have elements that were clearly lifted directly from The Beatles.  Over at Peter's Power Pop Peter has cataloged many of the "borrowed" pieces.  However the one big number - World Of You - is a bit of a lost psychedelic masterpiece.  It contains one of the finest string arrangements these ears have heard, at least in a pop song.  With its lovely sad melody, it feels like a wistful winter day.