Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's Gonna Be Alright Now

Last week I caught the new Big Star documentary "Nothing Can Hurt Me" at our wonderful old restored Hollywood Theater movie house.   First let me say there were moments in this film where I found myself quivering and on the verge of tears.   Seeing all of the archive footage of a band that I have worshiped for 40 years was like finding the Holy Grail.  Considering that it was nearly impossible to find their official vinyl releases back in the day I was amazed at the amount of material still available. 

As much as I loved the movie and was eager to soak up every last word, there were some interviews that did not really shed any new light on the band and their music.   Interestingly enough it was the interviews with the family and friends of Chris Bell that had the greatest impact for me.   I was aware of his status as co-leader of the band on the first LP "#1 Record" but had no idea just how depressed and sad he was as a result of their chart failure, as well as his feelings of being usurped by Alex Chilton.

The musical fragments presented in the film left a lot to be desired.  First of all, nothing was played in its entirety.  And then some major songs were completely left out, such as Back of a Car from "Radio City" which for me is the ultimate power pop song of all time.   For a long time fan like me it was not such a problem, but for someone just learning about the band I am afraid it might leave them wondering what all the fuss was about.

That said, I intend to makeup for my paltry postings for this band - only one in six years - and today want to start with one of my favorite tunes from #1 Record - Alex Chilton's Give Me Another Chance.   This song is so hauntingly beautiful in every little detail, from the opening verse melody and gentle acoustic strumming to the delicate harmonies surrounding these lines:

    I'm gonna be alright now, be OK.
    You know I just woke up and I see the way
    Don't give up on me so fast
    I see it's me that's wrong at last
    Give me another chance

And then the middle eight comes in and I just come apart:

    Its so hard, just to stay alive each day, I really can't go on this way, oh no, oh no.

This film reawakened my love this band and reminds me just how powerfully their music has affected me over the years.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Winter's tune for a Summer Day

This is a shout out to fellow blogger and all around good guy Who Am Us Anyway?.   Thanks for checking in on me via this blog over the last few months.  My health issue has improved greatly, and although I must be vigilant from here on out, I am pretty much back to living a normal life.  Having never had any serious health problem until last year - not even a broken bone - this has all been quite humbling.  But life is good and I am out to make the best of it.

Today's gem is a lost pysch classic from 1968 by the studio assemblage known as Sagittarius, led by producer/song writer Gary Usher.  He collaborated with Brian Wilson during the early years of the Beach Boys, penning the lyrics for 409 and In My Room.   When released as a single in 1968, today's tune My World Fell Down bumped its way up to #70 in the US charts.   None other than Glen Campbell provided the lead vocal, and another Beach Boy touring member Bruce Johnston added backing vocals.   A few months later when the record company demanded a full LP, the song was cut to remove the musique concrete middle section.

From the opening piano diddle I was hooked the first time I heard this.  The delicacy of the verse melody is contrasted with the Beach Boy-like chorus, and then the chamber pop section blows right into the found audio section.   It's all a bit silly and yet the overall effect is quite stunning.   Yet another attempt at a little pop symphony.