(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Random notes

Mostly older tracks came up in the mix this time. Still, it's an interesting selection.

Thunk - Jefferson Airplane (Bark)

Bark was not one of Jefferson Airplane's  most respected albums. Marty Balin left the band and they were at loose ends. One more album would follow this incarnation of the band before they transformed into Jefferson Starship. That said, Bark has plenty of fine songs on it, like Pretty As You Feel and When the Earth Moves Again, but there were some weaker moments like Thunk. It's an interesting sketch of a song with some nice harmonies. But it took itself much too seriously. Even so, I remember being amused when I was younger.

For Your Attention - Boxing Ghandis (Boxing Gandhis)

Another blast from the past, this one from 1994. For Your Attention kicks  off with a low key funk groove. David Darling does his best to channel Sly Stone as he lists all the feats he's performed just to get the girl. The production is crispy clean, with all the perfect touches: sweet horn punches, envelope-follower bass line, tight guitar fills, and soulful backing vocals. If anything, it's too polished, but it's still a solid funk jam.

Tonight's the Night - Neil Young (Tonight's the Night)

This song was Neil Young's eulogy to his friend Bruce Berry. The song begins with a few directionless notes before Young starts chanting the single line chorus. The stripped down accompaniment adds the right solemn feel. Young explains it all in the verses, sharing who Berry was and and how he overdosed. The piano solo starts to inject a bit more energy into the tune. The repetition of the lyrics is a grieving meditation. It's a moving song, as Young proves yet again the power of simplicity.

The Holdup - David Bromberg (Wanted Dead or Alive)

Frequent session player David Bromberg wrote The Holdup with George Harrison. The rollicking adventure kicks off with a badly tuned piano riff, quickly overtaken by paired guitars. Bromberg whips through the vocals with nasal goofiness, which works with the arch lyrics:
When we get your money, we'll ride towards the sunset
At Rosa's Cantina, we'll stop at the door
We'll spend all your money, just getting the nose wet
Tomorrow evening we'll be back for more
Bromberg's eponymous first album had his first take of the song, featuring Harrison and some sweet slide guitar. This version has the looser feel of a party in the studio. The track is full of great instrumental contributions from members of the Dead, including Jerry Garcia.

Would Be Killer - Gnarls Barkley (The Odd Couple)

"I've got a secret/ Something I thought maybe I could do." This creepy track is off the duo's second album. The sociopathic lyrics on Would Be Killer mesh perfectly with the spooky loop backing track. It's hard to believe that that's the same Cee Lo Green that would later dress up and sing with the Muppets, but it's a strange world, isn't it? The production is full of sweet details, like the way the drum sample is spliced to add a wicked little stutter beat just often enough to catch the ear.

Green and Danger Mouse never quite reproduced the chart success of Crazy (St. Elsewhere), but The Odd Couple has a number of good moments, including this track and Who's Gonna Save My Soul.

Punk Rock Heaven - Mary Prankster (Mata Hari EP)

You'll have to settle for the Roulette Girl version

I don't even remember how I got turned on to Mary Prankster, but her smart ass attitude and biting sense of humor made me fall in love. She often used profanity for the cheap shock on songs like Tits and Whiskey or Mercyfuck, but the tunes were tight and you could harvest enough sarcasm to fuel a couple of teenage lives from every song. Punk Rock Heaven is a wonderful bit of retro railing against punk posers ("Hippie Hell awaits you, Jack/ Unless you take that tye-dye off your back"). She name checks punk greats like the Sex Pistols and G.G. Allin and waxes ecstatic over the "authentic" scene to come. Of course, like most of her music, it's fairly tongue in cheek.

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