Monday, March 31, 2014

I'll Give You Fish

Today's posting is short but to the point.  I have been on a B-52s listening binge recently, and no song of theirs floats my boat more than Give Me Back My Man.   Cindy Wilson begins in her lower range, vibrato-less and yearning for the man that got away.  By the time she gets to the chorus it is abundantly clear that there is not much that she will not do go retrieve her guy.   The great video shows her barefoot in her little black party dress, eventually dancin' and fruggin' next to spastic Fred.   And then on the last pass through the chorus she lets loose a furious set of pleas. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

If words could speak they'd mean even less

Any time is the right time for a dose of Jellyfish.   Absolutely one of my all time favorite bands, so very talented and yet they only made two albums before disbanding.  This nugget is from their first LP Bellybutton - The King is Half Undressed.  The vocal harmony work is top notch, and Jason Falkner delivers some amazing guitar licks.  A perfect song to bring my day to a close.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

They Laid Down the Law

My college friends and I were a little hot bed of new wave aficionados in the prairies of NW Oklahoma.   We saw the Talking Heads in Norman, OK during their "Fear of Music" tour, caught The Pretenders and The Go Gos at the OKC Zoo, and rented the local roller rink for a new wave/punk evening.   I cannot skate but I remember being plastered while skating to The Clash.

Of all the new wave groups that sprang forth in the late 70's, the B-52s were the most near and dear to my heart.   Total nerds.   Just like us.   By the time of their third release in 1982, some thought the bloom was off the rose.  As we now know, Mesopotamia was supposed to be a full fledged album with ten tracks.   Something went amiss and they tangled with producer David Byrne, so the release was cut back to an EP with just six tracks.  It was definitely a new direction, but they jettisoned the new sound immediately and never returned. 

Here is the title track.  From the moment that Fred mispronounces Mes-a-pa-ta-mia I was hooked.  The monster hand claps just sealed the deal.   This has to be one of the greatest grooves of the 80s, what with the funky bass and the counterpoint between the various vocal parts. 

 I'll meet you by the third pyramid!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I Got a Big Surprise

When I was eight years old, I took on extra chores around the house so that my parents would give me enough money to buy tickets to the Enid, OK premier of A Hard Day's Night at the Chief Theater.  I was thrilled to be there at the premier and of course I loved the movie and the music, but was a bit too young to really understand what a great film it is.  Furthermore I did not see the gigantic song writing step forward by Lennon and McCartney.   For years I was a bit torn about the US LP by that name because it contained a generous portion of George Martin orchestrated instrumental versions of some of the songs.  I also purchased their Capitol LP Something New, which was really a scatter shot collection of songs left off the US AHDN album, plus some singles and b-sides.  And in some way I preferred that record because it had some amazing songs like Things We Said Today, Any Time at All, When I Get Home, And I Love Her, and If I Fell.

Then during my early college years in the mid-70s I acquired the British version of the LP.  And immediately I realized that Capitol records (and United Arists) had done us a great disservice.  The "real" A Hard Day's Night is perhaps the first true Beatles' masterpiece.   Even the running order is important to the experience of listening to these songs, and now I immediately know what will come next.

Tucked away at the very end of the LP is a song that just hits me like a ton of bricks every time I listen.   I'll Be Back is John Lennon at his early peak.  Not the upbeat closer that one would expect, but rather a thoughtful and beautiful exploration of how tenuous love can be.  The acoustic guitar work is just amazing, what with the three-against-four rhythms.  John sings it with a compassion that perfectly fits the lyrics.  A real hidden gem on an album full of first class song writing.