Monday, May 28, 2012


When I was eleven years old, I had little understanding of the dramatic changes that were taking place in pop music.   As a diehard Beatle fan I was of course on board with their 1966 single "Paperback Writer/Rain".   That b-side though was a sign post that things were changing.   Droning guitar, stop/start drumming, a vocal melody that moves at a glacial pace at odds with the instruments.

Looking back it seems clear that 1966 was a watershed year for a lot of bands, not just the Fab Four. And in fact one of my all time favorite Kinks albums was released that year.  With "Face to Face" Ray Davies took a big step forward with his songwriting, beginning his investigation of the minutia of modern life and those who live it.  There is of course the great three song arc (though not occurring consecutively on the LP) that traces the rise and fall of a man who once rode the wave of capitalism to its heights, only to lose everything and find himself with only a "Sunny Afternoon" to enjoy.   That album is chock full of great tunes and arrangements.   And for some reason the closing song - which tells no tawdry story but more than makes up for it with a joyful guitar lick, jaunty rhythm, and a lyrical precursor to Mr. Davies' songs which deal with memories -  has always been a personal favorite just because it makes me happy.  Really happy.  So if you wish to get happy with me, give a listen to "I'll Remember".

Monday, May 7, 2012

For Some Signpost That Is Not There

Many bands would have called it quits after the departure of two major contributors.  In 1969, Matthew Fisher left Procol Harum after producing their third (and perhaps finest) LP - A Salty Dog.  As the second major songwriter and singer in the group, his presence would be greatly missed.  Then in 1971 lead guitarist extraordinaire Robin Trower left the band for a solo career.  However the band did soldier on successfully mostly due to the charisma of singer/songwriter/pianist Gary Brooker.  But I would be negligent if I did not mention the other long time member who stayed the course - their drummer, B.J. Wilson. In many quarters he is considered to be one the of top rock drummers of all time.  Luckily there are few live recorded videos of the post-Fisher/Trower Harum which give an inkling of just what a force of nature Mr. Wilson could be.

Here is a TV performance from 1971 with Dave Ball as lead guitarist.  His stay with the band was so short that he never appeared on any studio albums.  But he had chops sufficient to play Robin Trower's licks with fire and intensity.   And what better tune to do so than Shine On Brightly, with its deep space beacon/siren as accompaniment to a fine tale of descent into madness.   And best of all - B.J. Wilson putting on a clinic on how to be a rock drummer.