Friday, February 28, 2014

I know that I miss you, but I don't know where I stand

Fairport Convention is one of those limey bands that flew under my radar for years.  Sure, I agree that Sandy Denny was a fine vocalist, but their music just never really clicked for me.  Recently I discovered their first album Fairport Convention (UK only), recorded in 1967 and release in 1968.  Prior to the arrival of Ms. Denny, Judy Dyble was the female vocalist.  And wow, does she ever have a lovely voice.   The Wikipedia article on this LP mentions that blueprint for the early version of Fairport was Jefferson Airplane, and sure enough the album is a veritable smorgasbord of summer of love songwriting.

My favorite from this LP is their cover of Joni Mitchell's I Don't Know Where I Stand.  It kicks off with a sparse guitar intro, then suddenly transforms into a Byrds-ish take on Joni.   From the opening verse, the lyrics are filled with that pensive feeling when you want to take that next step and let someone know how important they are to you, but you are not sure if the feeling is mutual.

Funny day, looking for laughter and finding it there
Sunny day, braiding wild flowers and leaves in my hair
Picked up a pencil and wrote "I love you" in my finest hand
Wanted to send it, but I don't know where I stand

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's a Crash Course for the Ravers

Today's post is a time travel trip to the near future, a time when humans have forgotten how to procreate.   They watch old porno flicks to understand how it was done.  From 1973's Aladdin Sane, Drive-In Saturday is one of my favorite glam-period David Bowie songs.   From the odd doo-wop opening to the fantastic sax solos, this was a never-to-be-repeated experiment in arrangement and mood.   The chorus is just perfect with its complicated walking chord progressions and hilarious lyrics referring the stereotypical hunk in the old sex films - "His name was always Buddy!"  "She'd sigh like Twig the wonder kid" is a reference to late 60's fashion model Twiggy.

There are two version here, the first the original release, the second a much more recent live recording, which starts with David explaining how Mott The Hoople turned down the song and he was so pissed that he shaved off his eyebrows.   It is a very different arrangement that he sings with a real passion, and the cutesy backup singers really bring a 60s girl group vibe to the proceedings.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Coca Cola Is All You Ever Drink

In the pantheon of power pop band, The Records are way up there on many aficionado's list due to their classic first single Starry Eyes.  And rightfully so, for that song manages to marry The Byrds with Big Star.   And it has some of the finest guitar work ever committed to vinyl.

However their follow up single Teenarama is just about as good in my book.  Ladies and Gentlemen, this is quintessential power pop.   Jangling guitars, power chords, heavenly harmonies, and one of my favorite choruses.   Ever.   The Records had a decent initial run in the UK but did not make much of a dent here in the States with their singles, although their first LP The Records (aka Shades in Bed in the UK) made it to 41 on the Billboard charts.  But I have to brag a little for having the original 45rpm singles with picture covers for their first two releases.   As a dedicated follower of Stereo Review back in the day, I latched onto an amazing amount of great music in the 1970s.

Monday, February 24, 2014

But I couldn't stay away from you

From 1965, here is the most exquisite of lost pop treasures.   Brian Wilson wrote Guess I'm Dumb, one of his most touching and sublime songs in 1964.  The instrumental track was recorded late that year during the Beach Boys Today! sessions.    Inexplicably the band passed on recording it, and as a returned favor for taking Brian's spot on tour, he gave the song to Glen Campbell.   That turned out to be divine providence for Glen had exactly the right voice to send the soaring melodic twists into the stratosphere.  Of course, the single tanked and failed to chart.

The instrumental work is quite a foreshadowing of where the band would be headed in 1966 with Pet Sounds.   When Glen's voice climbs to the heavens with the line "I'm not on top like I used to be" my heart just melts.  The lyrics speak for themselves:

The way I act don't seem like me
I'm not on top like I used to be
I'll give in when I know I should be strong
I still give in even though I know it's wrong, know it's wrong
I guess I'm dumb but I don't care

And breaking off wasn't hard to do
But I couldn't stay away from you
I feel love but not the way I did before
This time girl, has got to be forever more, ever more
I guess I'm dumb but I don't care

And baby since we've been apart
Maybe I've found I had a heart
I couldn't let go even if I wanted to
You must know baby now it's only you, only you
I guess I'm dumb but I don't care