The Patti Smith Primer

I was asked recently to provide an introduction to Patti Smith, some sort of a primer.  I was happy to oblige.  I’m expanding the text this morning to provide the same content to needy people at large.

I think a person could pick up any of Patti’s records, listen to them, study them, and find great enjoyment.  However, I recommend that Patti’s first 4 albums are the important part of her catalogue, and really, a person could live on just her first 3.  For your edification, I’ve selected one indicative song from each of those first 4 albums.

A brief bio, from my memory, might be useful to the listener.  Patti was an artist, generally, in her early days in NYC, living with Robert Mapplethorpe.  She started presenting original poetry at readings around the Village, and soon asked Lenny Kaye to accompany her on guitar.  Eventually she ended a show, I paraphrase, ‘we’re looking for a drummer to join us.  You know who you are.’  When Jay Dee Daugherty introduced himself, a band started to form.

When listening to Patti Smith, you can feel that sort of background and genesis:  she’s a poet first.  Many of the songs are spoken word or sing-song (I’ll point that out to you).  The music is not mere accompaniment, but is built to work around her voice and around the structure of the words.  To really groc the Patti Smith Group, I think it’s important for you, eventually, to discover this in your listening.  (Some records are credited to ‘Patti Smith’ and some are attributed to ‘The Patti Smith Group’; forgive me, I use the two interchangeably here, because she has had many of the same musicians with her since the start.)

After she reached stardom, she married Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith from MC5 fame, and they moved to Detroit to raise a family.  After some deaths in her life, she moved back to New York and we’ve seen a re-emergence in her work.

OK, here’s your primer.

“Redondo Beach”  (from Horses, 1975)

She tells a really sweet story about this song in one of her books.  After a nasty/silly fight with her younger sister, she went for a walk looking for her.  There were crowds around at the beach after a young woman did not return from the waves.  Fearing the worst, Patti wrote this poem, and then her sister walked into the apartment.  Dig the reggae guitar.

“Poppies”  (from Radio Ethiopia, 1976)

This is essential Patti Smith Group, spoken-word-singing, story-telling, poetry, guitar playing around her voice, cool parts, overlays, slow-spooky, sexy rhythm.

“Because the Night”  (seminal track from Easter, 1978)

“Love is an angel disguised as lust”

Incredible.

This is the song that broke her through.  This song was the moment that she and Robert were waiting for; they both thought they were both destined for greatness.  Robert would soon have his moments, too, with blunt, scary, fascinating black and white photography.

“Dancing Barefoot”  (from Wave, 1979)

Almost another lifetime ago, it seems, at Seattle’s arts festival, Bumbershoot, I went to the “secret stage” and out walked Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye.  They flew in from Berlin just to play this half-hour set.  Warm, sunny, beautiful weather, and everyone dancing barefoot.  I’ve listened to this record the least of her important first-four, but there is some stuff on it.

In addition to her music, I love her books – memoirs, poems, photographic essays – she’s a well-rounded and, I think, wonderful artist.  Warm, welcoming, and heartful; she’s a human, a superstar, and a shaman.  Check her out.

 


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Jesca Hoop

A few weeks ago, over beers, I was talking with a friend about music that we liked.  I talked about how lyrics, generally, are a hurdle for me, and I need something else to pull me into a song; something else about a song has to make me want to listen to and understand the lyrics.

The evening that I write this piece, I find myself reading Jesca Hoop lyrics trying to figure out why I like her new album so much.  It’s pretty much all love songs, I guess.  I have a heart, I like love, but, you know, maybe there’s more ground to cover.  It makes me think of David Byrne’s discussion of “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)”; he concedes it is a love song, though a topic he generally avoids, because it is “kinda big” and he likes to write songs about other things.  (Thus we have More Songs About Buildings and Food.)

I really love Jesca’s new offering, Memories Are Now offering, and I think what draws me in is her craftsmanship, and the craftsmanship of her co-conspirators, to put songs together.

Late last year, Jesca teased us by playing one track in the 6 Music studios, “Pegasi”, with promise of a February album release.  I’ve shared this track previously.

The BBC offering was my introduction to her.  I bought the album the weekend it was released.  I know now that she had 4 LPs and 3 EPs released prior to the February release.

Sometimes I’m slow to catch on.

I’ve been listening to this track over and over for 3 months, and I’ve been listening to the album for a couple of weeks.  Why am I so drawn to it?  It’s pretty simple, really.  First, beautiful voice with easy range, and the backing vocals have their say.  Second, two interesting guitar parts – not rock god, hot-riff kind of guitar parts – but skilled and pleasing; parts that stand out only to augment the voice-as-instrument and work around the nooks and crannies of Jesca’s voice.  Third, not many love songs invoke the imagery of a supernova.  Hot stuff.

And I think that’s the secret.  The singer-songwriter needs something else.  Simon and Garfunkel got away with generally-simple guitar accompaniment, because their voices worked so well together.  Bob Dylan, as great as he is, wouldn’t get away with solo-acoustic shows anymore; he came of age at a time when folk music was it and his words had great meaning for that era.  But Jesca is demonstrating a craftsmanship in song building – instrumental themes that work with lyrics, and lyrics that fit around the song’s structure and rhythm.  Lyrics and sound that mesh.  Nothing forced, Jesca seems to put everything together to sound natural.  Beautiful.  Here’s another track for you, “Simon Says”.

Memories are Now has a place on my playlist.

 


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For the Love of Music: Please, Do Not Bend

I joined a record-of-the-month club last summer.  That’s right, vinyl records in the mail, every month, gate-fold covers complete with inserts, liner notes and stuff. It’s really cool.  The club obtains rights to release their own pressings and packaging – it’s not from the warehouse.  High-quality stuff, generally colored vinyl and sometimes multi-color designs.

(This blog’s primary interest is endorsing the artists and the music that I am appreciating, and I encourage readers to seek them out for themselves.  I will, occasionally, divulge the names of services that I use, if I think they are worthy.)

I joined Vinyl Me Please on a little bit of a whim.  Desperate to find new music, and excited about the renewed interest vinyl records, I happened to overhear something on the radio and immediately found the website and pulled out my credit card.

Besides the great ‘do not bend’ plea to postal workers on the packaging, each album features a recommended cocktail recipe to drink while listening.  That’s full-feature service.  (Trouble is, I don’t typically have all the liquor ingredients laying around.  Just wine.)

After I joined Vinyl Me Please in August, I discovered a few other similar services, and based on descriptions, I did good.  I’m six months in.  Here’s a summary of my VMP experience.

№ 45 — September 2016
Glass Animals How To Be A Human Being (original release: 2016)
I’d never heard of these guys and I gotta tell you, I think they’re really cool.  I’ve tried to fit them into a playlist, but they’re very different for me.  (Weeks into this I figured it out – I’ve never been much for Hip Hop.)  They incorporate a lot of different styles of music and a lot of stuff and a lot of noises.  It was hard to work them into a playlist (I tried, see playlist #1 on Community Noise); I’m not sure what to do with them, and I find that very exciting!

I need help!  Does anybody have a Hip Hop primer?  A top 10 list?  A beginner’s guide?

№ 46 — October 2016
Beck Odelay (original release: 1996)
When Beck hit the scene in 1994, I had a real job and I was working hard, but most of my friends were slackers.  “Loser” hit an off-note for me.  When VMP sent this to me a few months ago, I didn’t have any Beck in my library, had never gotten into him, never gave him much notice.  I was delighted to receive this; it gave me a second chance.  It’s a really good record.  I guess I’d always liked “Devil’s Haircut” .

(Edification note: writing about Beck taught me a new word, mononymously.  MS-Word doesn’t think it’s a word, but Wikipedia knows better.)

№ 47 — November 2016
The Books The Lemon of Pink (original release: 2003)
Pretty.

This album is really fun to listen to.  Little melodies come and go, loops of sounds, voices, and notes.  Some drone here and there.  You have to be in the right mindset – you’re not going to be dancing or singing along, but, for example, the morning that I’m writing this passage, it is great music to have on whilst making breakfast, consuming same, and drinking coffee.

As I’ve had John Cage in my mind recently, I think Cage would be pleased with this; his “noise is music” ideas fit well here.  (Yoko Ono would enjoy this…)  There are songs on this album, sometimes, but really this album has ‘tracks’.  Here’s a taste (from the album, not the pancakes):  “The Lemon of Pink I” .  Also, quickly, there’s this, Exclamation Mark

№ 48 — December 2016 (original release: 1967)
Nina Simone Nina Simone Sings the Blues (original release: 1967)
Gatefold cover, baby blue vinyl, inserts, flats suitable for framing, little notes. It’s a beautiful object.

And, oh my goodness, can Nina sing.  “Do I Move You” .  I’ll give you a second sampling,  “Since I Fell For You” .  It’s agonizing; lyrics so miserable, voice so soothing.

I could not stop playing this the night I received it.  Just play side A, turn over to side B, play it, side A, play it, side B, play it, repeat.  Again.  Several more times.  Dream about it in my sleep.  Hear her voice over the din of traffic, the colleague’s monotony, the noise of life; nothing keeps up with her voice.  Nina kills!

VMP call themselves ‘curators’.  They curated their asses off with this selection.

№ 49 — January 2016
Panda Bear; Person Pitch (original release: 2007)
??

I can’t … where the fuck did this come from?  It sounds like Benedictine Monks and Martians found a beat and went nuts making a record together.  Fucking incredible.  (Yes, YES, I mean that as good.)

There is something familiar – like something familiar has been muffled, garbled, slurred, and blurred – but I can’t figure it out.  There’s something here that I’m acquainted with, but it’s just not right.  Damn this is good.  Give “Good Girl” a try.

№ 50 — February 2016
Main Source; Breaking Atoms (original release: 1991)
I’ve never been a rap guy.  The Club gives me an opt-out option, I think twice a year, where I can decline a month’s offering and request something else from their catalogue.  But I decided early on that I wanted to be challenged, and I wanted this experience to be trusting – I’m trusting the curators at VMP to kick ass and deliver great things to me every month.  My trust is paying off.  Having other people choose your music, even just occasionally, is a great way to expand your mind.  (Insert rant about the state of commercial radio in the US.)

I put this on as soon as I got it; I was working at home, and I was just ready to make lunch.  Really enjoyed having this on the stereo.  I have so much to learn.  Try this jolt, “Snake Eyes” .

Summary
Sometimes, but not always, you’ll get a secret code you so can download digital copies of everything — I think that is really cool.  Only one of the first 6 records that I’ve received is new; the rest are re-issues.  I can speak out of both sides of my mouth here … almost everything has been new-to-me, but finding brand new great stuff, for some reason, is more difficult than finding great old stuff.  However, I am delighted with this service.  I have some Nina Simone, but rarely listened to her before; I’ll say this, Sings the Blues is the album to have.  Go buy Nina Simone Sings the Blues.

————

n.b.  I noticed that Rough Trade is going to start a goodies club of their own.  They’re promising to send “something” every month.  They started up just this month for the U.K. and will be able to add memberships for the United States and the Rest of the World starting Mid-2017.   https://www.roughtrade.com/membership  I’ll be going with the CD option for this one, I think, rather than more vinyl.  As long as you’re checking out Rough Trade website, check out their current catalogue.  They’re killing it!


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I Can’t Keep Up

Three years ago, I signed up for a 3-part, public, psychology lecture series at the University of Washington.  The series was titled, “The Science of Decision Making”.  The first night, I dutifully strode into Kane Hall and walked into the great hall.  I didn’t bother to consider that there are several lecture rooms in the building that might host my event.

The host began talking and asking the crowd which part of the Medical School they were associated with.  Lots of responses from ‘Psychiatry’, ‘Social Work’, ‘Pharmacology’, ‘Bioethics’ … etc.  I couldn’t choose between thinking, “I’m in the wrong room” and “if the School of Medicine takes over my alumni lecture, it must be a good sign.”  (Yeah, I was in the wrong place; and they were trying to kick people out due to space constraints.)  I sat quietly trying not to look lost.

Dr. Gabor Matē commenced to give a personable lecture about drug addiction, roots of the disease, and what he’s learned about treatment.  He runs a clinic, situated within group housing, in Vancouver B.C.  Fascinating and compassionate, you can read more about him and his work at his website, https://drgabormate.com/.

He storied us with his own addiction problems.  Yes, people laughed when he described his pursuit of classical music.  His pushers at the record shop would ask him if he had a specific version of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 3, or “you haven’t heard the new Mozart from the London Philharmonic??  You have to buy this.”  But no joke – he was spending $1000s of dollars on CDs and lying to his family about it.  He’d hide the CDs in his car or in the office, he’d smuggle them into his home office and hide them behind medical journals.  He missed his sons’ school activities because he had to “stay late at the clinic”, which included buying and listening to classical music.  When I saw him, he was receiving professional help for this addiction.

And thus we begin the point of my post this evening.  I’ve made a lot of purchases over the past couple of months, and I can’t keep up.  Here’s a partial listing (partial only because I can’t be sure that I’m forgetting something):

  1. The Kills – Keep on Your Mean Side Cat Claw    ( Influenced by Johnny Thunders??)
  2. The Kills – No Wow
  3. The Kills – Midnight Boom
  4. The Kills – Blood Pressures
  5. The Kills – Ash & Ice
  6. Operators – Blue Wave
  7. Warpaint – Heads Up
  8. Tacocat – Lost Time
  9. Beethoven – Symphony No. 9
  10. Beethoven – Piano Sonatas, Po. 2, Nos. 1-3
  11. (2) Rough Trade compilation CDs
  12. (1) Sub Pop compilation CD
  13. Jesca Hoop – memories are now Memories are Now  (I’m liking this new album.  More later.)
  14. Bikini Kill – The First Two Records (one CD)
  15. Parkay Quarts – Tally All the Things That You Broke
  16. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
  17. Parquet Courts – Human Performance
  18. Pinkshinyultrablast – Everything Else Matters Umi  (tell your record store clerk, “Pinkshinyultrablast – all one word, spelled just as it sounds”)
  19. Ringo Deathstarr – Colour Trip
  20. Ringo Deathstarr – Pure Mood
  21. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  22. The Colorist and Emiliana Torrini – An Evening With
  23. Iron & Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle (vinyl)
  24. MC5 – Kick Out the Jams (vinyl)

Plus, I belong to a (vinyl) record-of-the-month club, I borrow things from the library, I bought some (vinyl) 7” singles, and people point me to things on Spotify and YouTube.  A glorious river of entertainment to wade through, a bender of new things to listen to:  I’m here to help!

More details and recommendations from the list are forthcoming from the list.Until then, I’ve given you 3 samples, via YouTube, just click the bold purple text above.

And, no, I don’t buy this much every month, but when I do, it drives me crazy with delight.

 


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Playlist #3 – Women in My Life

Last year, my neighbor and I traded assignments to make each other a compilation CD.  Dan is some 20 years younger, so we each had vastly different backgrounds and assignments to offer the other.  Upon completion of my playlist, I was horrified to realize that I didn’t have any women on my playlist.  That wasn’t fair.

I have good representation in my collection and I have sought out women to listen to my whole life, but it was just sort of a bad coincidence.  To mend my karma, here’s a playlist featuring women.  I’ve got it all:  rockers, punks, electronica mavens, soul vocalists, poets, and heroin-shooting Euro girls, all spanning about 6 decades.

Women in My Life

The timing is appropriate.  I wasn’t ready for the woman’s march last month, but the movement must not have an end; any contribution at any time is appropriate.  I’ll look to do this again in a few months. (Sorry for the YouTube commercial breaks – disturbs the flow, doesn’t it?  It’s not me.)

  1. Heart – “Crazy on You”

I was 11 years old when I first listened to Heart on my little AM radio, and my older brother had Dreamboat Annie.  We listened to these girls over and over.

  1. Patti Smith — “Because the Night”

Let me go out on a limb:  Patti Smith is one of the great artists of the 20th century.  She does not compare in fame or stature to Andy Warhol or David Bowie, but she’s got the stuff.  She can write, she’s tough, she leads a great band.  She’s led people to new places, she’s a healer and a teacher: a shaman.  Ever see her perform?  Listen to her records, read her books, look over her photographs and drawings.  Girl’s got game.  I’m on a pretty short limb.

  1. Laurie Anderson – “Beautiful Red Dress”

“…I just want to say something … for every dollar that a man makes, a woman makes 63 cents.  Now fifty years ago that was 62 cents.  So, with that luck, it’ll be the year 3888 before we make a buck…”

That was in 1989.  By 2015, women were making 80 cents to the male dollar, depending on what statistics you believe.  Pay disparity is real, but beyond that, there is no simple truth.  The statistical methods and the misguided “myth busters” get thick pretty quickly, but start at US Department of Labor blog Myth Busting the Pay Gap (But hurry!  DJT is sure to censor this post and all other posts by DoL staff.)

  1. The Pretenders – “Precious”

“You shouldn’t let your manners slip you’re too precious”

  1. Talking Heads (Tina Weymouth) – “Heaven”

I remember reading an interview with David Byrne; he was really proud to have a woman journeyman bass player, Tina Weymouth, in the band.  Other bands at the time had women fronting, like Blondie, but Tina wasn’t a sex symbol, just somebody that could play.  We’re all better off when we all play together, thus it’s appropriate to include Talking Heads here.

  1. Lady Gaga / Tony Bennett – “The Lady is a Tramp”

I love this.­­

  1. Amy Winehouse – “You Know I’m No Good”

­­ I wish we knew how to help suicidal drug addicts. Rehab doesn’t do it, telling them, “don’t do that” doesn’t help. Jail doesn’t help. I generally think, you know, they just weren’t meant to be long in this world, but that’s insufficient.  Amy had many unique talents, and I fear she had a lot left to offer us.

  1. Honey – “No One Wants an Alien”

This shows up on a Wipers tribute album.  I like Honey’s voice and wish I could listen to more of her.  I don’t really know who this is, and you can’t go searching the internet for “honey” girls.

  1. Bow Wow Wow – “I Want Candy”

Not sure a 14-year-old girl singing about cum stuck to her sweater is at the heart of the women’s movement, but it’s a cool song that was at the heart of the UK punk scene.  This song will resurface later when I do playlists to celebrate “great drumming bits” and “I heart guitar riffs’.

  1. X – “Your Phone’s Off the Hook, But You’re Not”

The harmonizing vocals of Exene Cervenka and John Doe has a quality that only comes from a boy-girl duet, and damn, they do it well.  And Exene is one great punk poet.

  1. The Slits – “So Tough”

If this playlist does nothing else for me, my goodness, I’d forgotten how interesting The Slits are to listen to.  With great touch, they put a song together that’s strong, gentle, tasty, yet nasty.

  1. Slant 6 – “Baby Doll”

I lived in Burbank one summer in the late 1990s and a girl-punk band come on the radio, but I missed who it was.  Quickly, I ducked into a record shop in Hollywood that I frequented, but they hadn’t been listening to the same channel.  They asked, with a blank expression, “well, who was it?”  I’ll never know who I was actually listening to, but they sent me home with a Slant 6 CD.  They’re awesome.

  1. The Kills – “Hard Habit to Break”

I’m rediscovering this band, but I can’t remember how I knew them before.  Recently, I’d decided that I wanted a T-shirt with a volcano and it, and searching, I found the T-shirt for their Fire and Ice album.  hmmm…The Kills…I haven’t listened to them for a while.  Cool stuff.  The store on their website doesn’t work.

  1. Siouxsie and the Banshees – “Hong Kong Garden”

Siouxsie Sue was my gateway drug.  There I was innocently sitting in my dorm room listening to Journey when this crazy man walked in my room screaming “Journey??” and walked out.  He returned holding Once Upon a Time – The Singles.  I have never listened to Journey again, and have, for over 30 years, turned my attention to the innovative, the cool, the unusual.  Gone is the Top 40.

  1. Ladytron – “Destroy Everything You Touch”

BBC Radio’s 6 Music hosted an all-synthesizer show the day after the women’s march, and this was the most-requested song.

  1. Nina Simone – “Do I Move You”

Next month I’ll review the record-of-the-month club that sent this to me in December.  I could not stop playing it, one side after the other.  Flat out, Nina can sing.

  1. Alabama Shakes – “Hold On”

Girl’s got soul in her rock ‘n’ roll.

  1. Nico – “The End”

Must I learn to stop ending playlists with a pun?  I don’t know.  Nico did some pretty interesting things, writing some of her own songs, and playing the harmonium.  The thing, though, was her voice.  Strong, atonal, and kinda freaky.  She makes ‘The End’ her own, which is the best kind of cover.


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Children of Nuggets

Reviewing a Box Set

Children of NuggetsOriginal Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era 1976-1996

I love compilations.  They promise to provide something I haven’t heard before, remind me of something I used to listen to, all the while wading through a bunch of questionable material.  It’s like a bent wedding: something old, something new, something kooky, something cool.  And a box set – a box set! – well, that’s just 4 times more something new, something old, and a whole buncha crap.

I picked up this 4-CD compilation from my public library.  I was looking for any digital music from the Hoodoo Gurus.  (I have Mars Needs Guitars! on Lp; I have Stoneage Romeos and Blow Your Cool! on one cassette tape.  I can’t think of another band with 2 albums that have exclamation points in the titles.)  Anyway, this compilation came up in the search.

Children of Nuggets is really, really good!  While the title suggests “psychedelic” music, I’d have to say this box set picks up a lot of different styles and sub genres.  (I mean, who thinks of The Bangles as ‘psychedelic’?)  Of course, a band that you don’t think of as psychedelic might have that one track, and that one track might show up here.

If you’re into several realms of 1980s music, I’d highly recommend this as a refresher, or if you don’t know anything, this is a pretty good introduction, though a bit sideways.  Here are some picks.

something old

The Church – “The Unguarded Moment”

Once upon a time, I called The Church my favorite band.  Then there was just too much stuff – so much great stuff – I couldn’t select just one to be a favorite.  After time, The Church lost their staying power, and I don’t listen to them anymore.  Good to hear some again.

something new (to me)

Chesterfield Kings – “She Told Me Lies”

I like this music.  It’s a retro 1960s vibe.  It’s abusive to a synthesizer, and I think synthesizers could be abused more often.  I hadn’t heard of these guys previously, but reading about them a little bit they have some import.  I like this a lot.

something kooky

The Cramps – “New Kind of Kick”

“psychobilly”!  In my living room, I display a postcard of the image I’m using here.  Still, I’ve never listened to these guys with any sort of commitment.  They have their moments, as this song shows, and maybe I need to listen to them some more.

something cool

Julian Cope – “Sunspots”

I used to live for Julian.  His former band, The Teardrop Explodes, has the best visual name ever.  Can you see it?  poof splash gone  Then he had a bit of a mental breakdown and a way-too- fucking-long LSD trip, then two more really cool solo records, and then a bunch of crap.  But those 4 records, man, cool stuff.

You can read more about the box set, including the entire track listing, on Wikipedia.  Maybe your local library has a copy.  Check it out!


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Playlist #2: Songs to Learn and Sing

I know you sing.  In the car, in the shower, walking down the street with the headphones on, in the privacy of your home, I know you’re singing and screaming.  Maybe you just sing the refrains; maybe you can’t quite hit the high notes, but you’re singing.  Think you’re a real crooner?

I can make some recommendations for you, some Songs to Learn and Sing. I’ve compiled a playlist on YouTube for your convenience.  I’ve had to make choices, excluding many deserving songs.  I try to curate original videos – the way the artists intended you to see their music.  Short of that, I do the best that I can to find something interesting, or at least ensure the version of a song is “correct”.  I try to avoid songs with the radio edits; many times over, those blips are worse than the f-word.

I got me a car, it’s as big as a whale
And we’re headin’ on down to the Love Shack
I got me a Chrysler, it seats about twenty
So hurry up and bring your jukebox money

Here’s the playlist:

  1. Echo and the Bunnymen – The Killing Moon
  2. Sinatra – You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me
  3. The Brian Setzer Orchestra – There’s a Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder
  4. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key
  5. The Screaming Blue Messiahs – Wild Blue Yonder
  6. The Pixies – Dig for Fire
  7. The B52s – Love Shack
  8. Romeo Void – (I Might Like you Better) If We Slept Together
  9. The Prettiots – Boys I dated in High School
  10. The Modern Lovers – Pablo Picasso
  11. The Specials – Blank Expression
  12. The Dirty Heads – Lay Me Down
  13. Smash Mouth – All Star
  14. Velvet Underground – Who Loves the sun
  15. Little Eva – Loco-motion
  16. Ben Gibbard – They Don’t Know
  17. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – (I’ll Love You) Till the End of the World

Sometimes the flow of my playlists are abstract.  The Screaming Blue Messiahs and The Pixies had to be back to back, because they both have bald men screaming at you.  Sometimes there isn’t a good flow … I’m working on that skill.

 


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I own none of the photos, just grabbed stuff from Internet searching. I love how you can google images for anything and find it – “singing vampire”?  Check.

Second Inversion

A few years ago, Seattle’s classical music station, King FM, went public and is now a not-for-profit enterprise.  Commercial free, community supported, and still running strong.  Er, that rocks.

Almost three years ago, with the motto, “Rethink Classical”, they added to their charter an on-line radio station called Second Inversion.  You can listen to them streaming, read their blogs, and see what they’re all about on at www.SecondInversion.org .  They also have a YouTube station https://www.youtube.com/user/RethinkClassical , and I’m sure they have a foot print in other media.

I discovered them by picking up a business card they’d placed at a local record store.  Key point:  while you ignore as much noise as possible, never ignore a free opportunity to learn something new.  There’s a fine line there somewhere.

Seattle record stores always have free shit laying around near the exit – CDs, posters, flyers, cards, newsletters; generally, stuff.  (Is this true in other places?  My excursions in England have failed on this point.  Portland, sure, lots of stuff.  Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco: I can’t remember.  Other?)

The idea for Second Inversion is to re-imagine what classical music can be.  This includes re-interpreting 250-year-old pieces using different arrangements, different instruments, different combinations, or different tempos.  It includes using a full orchestra to play rock and roll.  It essentially includes doing anything you can think of when considering “classical music”.  The results have been outstanding.  I can list the reasons why I don’t listen to Second Inversion more: 1) I still have a day job, 2) there’s so much other stuff going on, and 3) I’m a rocker at heart.

I want to be clear, I love classical music.  I’m not terribly knowledgeable, but I love the stuff.  I’ve enjoyed going to the symphony a few times and listening to various things from time to time.  Classical music doesn’t need help; I like it the way it is.  Still, it’s always, always, a great thing to re-imagine what could be.  And thus we have Second Inversion.

My entire mindset is supportive of what these folks are trying to do.  For this post, I wanted to share some of my favorite finds from this virtual station; I’m interested if other people see connections between this project and more typical popular music.

Andy Akiho and the Friction Quartet with steel pan

Joachim Horsley — Beethoven In Havana

Passenger String Quartet — Mozart/Nirvana Mashup

 

To close, this concept isn’t new to me.  I’ve been a big fan of John Cale for a very long time.  His adaptation of Dylan Thomas poems to an orchestra is well known and has been a personal favorite.  From The Falkland Suite.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Moreover, here is a sample of his musical scores for the debut of two Andy Warhol films, Eat and Kiss.

Movement 3 [from Kiss]

 



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Photo credit Ram Mallari Jr.; see Steampunk Tendencies on FB.

 

Birthday Wishes for Elvis and Bowie

Elvis Presley (1935) and David Bowie (1947) share a birthday today.  I figure there’s enough celebration of Bowie today, that I’m not needed.  In celebration of Elvis, here is my favorite song of his.  The opening scene of his movie King Creole, “Crawfish” with Kitty White is excellent!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQOlgXaSDy8

 

This might be my only post for a few days.  My primary computer died last week; the piece I was working on for today is on that hard drive.  I will provide a more jam-packed offering as soon as I am able.