Dennis Wilson: “Love Remember Me” (Bambu (The Caribou Sessions), 1978)
I’ve had Bambu hanging around on my hard drive for a long time but have never listened to it. So this is the first bit of it I’ve heard, and I guess I can see the potential of this material, but in execution, it’s pretty rough. There’s something innately powerful about the big, repeated chorus with all its layers—the phrase “love comes tumbling down on you” could be read a lot of ways, but Wilson’s fried lead vocal makes me think he’s either headed to a dark place or already there. It could have done without the bombastic lead guitar, certainly. It’s hard to reconcile this Dennis Wilson with the quite surfer and beach bum that he was in the 60s. He was the only surfer in the group when they formed, but died at 39, drowning while diving to find things he’d thrown off his boat. This is one of those recordings that just feels a little too close to someone’s personal deterioration for me to listen to comfortably.
The Louvin Brothers: “Don’t Laugh” (Handpicked Songs 1955-1962, 1955)
Dennis Wilson’s life had its share of strife (I didn’t mention the chapter starring Charles Manson above), and strife was also familiar to the Louvin Brothers. Charlie passed away last year after a long, productive and pretty stable life, but the other Louvin Brother, Ira, was the complete opposite, a drunk who died in a car accident in 1965 after being married to four women, one of whom shot him after becoming fed up with his abuse. Together, they made some really great music, and “Don’t Laugh” is a really fine song. Recorded in 1955, it wasn’t released until 1968; my mp3 is from Light in the Attic’s recent Louvins compilation, and it was chosen for the set by the Byrds’ Chris Hillman.
Cortijo y Su Nuevo Combo: “Tum-Bin” (Champions, 1975)
Rafael Cortijo was a Puerto Rican percussionist about whom I know very little aside from his origins and the fact that he lived from 1928 to 1982. Oh, and that this is a bright and fleet-footed song with great horns and a totally infectious rhythm. My mp3 has “salsa” as the genre, but I think a more correct tag would be bomba, though I’m not really an expert on Puerto Rican styles and could be wrong—it’s just that salsa’s more of a catch-all term than a true genre designation. Anyway, that’s hand-wringing. This is hip-shaking.
Pink Floyd: “The Amazing Pudding” (Broadcasting From Europa 1 bootleg, 1970)
Ah, yes, “The Amazing Pudding.” This is really just another title for the “Atom Heart Mother Suite,” and is usually applied to versions played only by the four-piece band, without the choir and the horn section. Generally, I like these versions more than the orchestral/choral ones, because one of the best things about Pink Floyd in the late 60s and early 70s was their improvisatory inventiveness and the way they made the same six or seven pieces of music into something different each night. They always sound hamstrung playing with that orchestra and choir, but these four-piece versions of that piece of music open right up. This is one of the very best recordings of “The Amazing Pudding,” taped for radio broadcast in France at the Theatre Champs-Elysees in Paris on January 23rd, 1970. I love what Rick Wright does with those ponderous horn parts when he transposes them to the organ. Incidentally, the Broadcasting from Europa 1 bootleg also includes an orchestral version of the suite and is worth tracking down (it’s available on quite a few blogs).
The Ventures: “Western Union” (Super Psychedelics, 1967)
After sixteen minutes of Pink Floyd’s monumental take on psychedelia, I get a little bit of whiplash taking in the Ventures’ bouncy idea of the same thing. Really, this just signals that the Ventures were groping for a way forward as psychedelia passed them by. Which is not to say it doesn’t have its brightly colored charms, because it does (really, it’s like a sonic equivalent of a Runts dispenser). The Ventures were past their prime when they recorded this, they were still a good band,and this is fun stuff to have around.
Hear these tracks here.
With less time to devote to blogging, I need an easy topic generator to get me going , so here a new series: First Five on the Shuffle. I have a huge mp3 library, with a lot of tracks I’ve never heard or only played once (and maybe didn’t even hear them when I did), so refreshing the shuffle on iTunes almost always brings up stuff that’s still new to me. So I’m going to react to the first five things that come up when I hit refresh, whether I’ve heard them before or not. You can listen for yourself by following the link at the bottom of the post.
The Ex: “Sucked Out Chucked Out #8” (The Dignity of Labour, 1983)
I love the Ex, but I haven’t gotten round to listening to The Dignity of Labour, which has eight tracks, all with the same title. This is the last of them. It’s not the most bracing thing in their catalog by any means, but it has enough of their rhythmic insistence and pointed noise to work. Which I guess is a pun. Oops.
Hungarian Ensemble: “Rollin’ Rollin’” (Koncert A Marson, 1970)
I have an absolute ton of 50s and 60s rock and roll from outside the West; in this case, that means Hungary, which was on the other side of the Iron Curtain when this was recorded. Hungary had a much more vibrant recorded music industry and pop scene than a lot of its Warsaw Pact neighbors, which is not to say that there was a ton of innovation. There certainly isn’t on this track by one of the least creatively named rock groups ever, but it’s still a very enjoyable little record, splitting the difference between 50s rock and roll and 60s bubblegum with a tiny dash of 70s hard rock. Honestly, I was hoping it’d be a mis-titled cover of “Rawhide.”
Nicolas Sosa: “La Petenera Jarocha” (Harp Music, 1950)
At forty five seconds, this is a very brief demonstration of Mexican folk harp styles (and by harp, I mean the big, stand-up string instrument), but it’s quite lovely. The harp played a big role in a few Latin American folk styles (Venezuelan llanero music is sublime), which has always been interesting to me because the instrument is so unportable. You can’t exactly sling it over your shoulder and jump on your horse, you know? I don’t know anything about Nicolas Sosa, but I can tell you he played the harp wonderfully.
Lonnie Johnson: Jersey Belle Blues (my mp3 is from Jonathan Bogart's 100 Great 1930s Records For The New Depression, 1939)
This is a blues tune, and sort of a weird one at that—a piano and acoustic guitar are both used in the accompaniment, and there are parts of the song where they both play lead instead of trading licks. As for the Jersey Belle… well, that’s a type of cow, but you know this is a double entendre, because that’s what almost every 1930s blues song that wasn’t about murdering someone was. I can just imagine Johnson grinning into a big old microphone as he deadpans “she’s a mighty tough titty” as though he really is talking about a cow. He doesn’t really try very hard to mask the raunchiness anyway. The first verse remarks that his bedroom is lonely since his Jersey belle is gone, and if you took it as literally about a cow, well, that’d be a totally different kind of song, wouldn’t it?
Ache: “Cyclus 7 Introduction” (Pictures from Cyclus 7, 1976)
This is the opening track of what appears to be a concept album about… I think Cyclus 7 is supposed to be some sort of phase of man, like Aquarius? Ache was from Denmark, and this is fairly bland prog rock. The sudden tempo shift in the middle of the song is competently handled, but the rhythm section is too straight ahead with its plodding rock beats. I do like the waves of Leslie-soaked guitar that sweep across the stereo field during the slow bits, though. I dunno. Is it really necessary to start your concept album by explicitly stating that you’d like to sing to your audience about what you’re about to sing about? Probably not. The album also contains a track called “Outtroduction.”
Hear these tracks here.