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Big Star – Thirteen

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Certain songs penetrate one deeply, and for me, Big Star’s Thirteen is one such song.

Big Star - #1 Record
Big Star – #1 Record

Every time, nearly, that I hear the shimmering background vocals to this song, I get goosebumps, feel a shiver down my spine. Why do certain songs do this? Who the fuck knows, but I kept listening to Thirteen over and over tonight, and I will probably pick the needle up one more time soon as I finish typing the sentence. Ahhh…

The lyrics aren’t what do it for me, they border on silly (Take You To The Dance, and so on), but how they are sung is what gets me. 

“Thirteen” is a song by the American rock band Big Star. Rolling Stone describes it “one of rock’s most beautiful celebrations of adolescence“, and rated it #406 a list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. It was written by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell.

The song was originally featured on the 1972 album #1 Record. It was never released as a single by Big Star.

(click here to continue reading Thirteen (song) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Big Star 

and from Bill Janovitz:

Big Star’s Chris Bell and Alex Chilton wrote some of pop music’s most memorable melodies — memorable for the relatively few listeners who were fortunate to hear them, that is. There are few songs that capture the aching innocence of adolescence as well as the ballad “Thirteen,” and fewer that are as pretty as this song. Often compared to their most immediate influence, the Beatles, Big Star produced some “Here Comes the Sun”-like gems. “Thirteen” is from the Memphis band’s debut, No.1 Record (1972). Over gorgeous folk-pop acoustic guitars, Chilton’s vulnerable-sounding voice shakes with the tentative insecurity of the 13-year-old narrator tenderly trying to gain the affection of his crush:

“Won’t you let me walk you home from school/Won’t you let me meet you at the pool/Maybe Friday I can get tickets to the dance/And I’ll take you, ooh/Won’t you tell your dad ‘Get off my back’/Tell him what we said ’bout “Paint It Black”/Rock & roll is here to stay/Come inside girl, it’s OK/And I’ll shake you/If it’s so, well let me know/If it’s no, well I can go/I won’t make you.”

(click here to continue reading Thirteen – Big Star | Listen, Appearances, Song Review | AllMusic.)

I guess maybe I need a Leslie speaker before I get a Theremin…

Big Star - #1 Record

Chilton’s lyrics are so simple and so clear that they seem effortless. The song has a Zen/haiku-like quality in its concise, yet powerfully evocative form. The music is provided by acoustic guitars and vocals alone — backing vocals run through a rotating Leslie speaker.

There are other awesome songs on this album, by the way, Feel, The Ballad of El Goodo, In the Street, Try Again, Watch the Sunrise, and others, so if you see a copy of Big Star’s #1 Record somewhere, you would be well served to pick up a copy…

Written by Seth Anderson

May 22nd, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Music,Suggestions

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Sporadic Reviews: Old No. 1 – Guy Clark

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Does this ever happen to you? You’ve owned a piece of music1 in your library for a while, and you like it, but your relationship to the songs is tenuous, ephemeral, noncommittal. And then for whatever reason, you rediscover that particular artifact, and it grips you, forces you to play it over and over, compels you to swirl the songs in your ears. Is it that certain music takes a few plays before it sinks in? Is it a factor of your changing brain? The music is the same, but your response to it has altered, deepened.

Last week, a song came on my iTunes shuffle while I was photostrolling, a song from Guy Clark’s Old No. 1 LP. I had added this album to my library July 15th, 2008, the same day I added Nigeria 70 Lagos Jump, Ry Cooder’s I, Flathead, Alejandro Escovedo’s Real Animal, and had played Old No. 1 a few times since then, but I couldn’t say it was a particular favorite of mine. I had played it five or six times, and particular songs shuffled a few more times than that, but nothing more.

However, last week, that particular song smacked me2 and would not relinquish its hold on my imagination. So I was compelled to listen to it a few times, and then enticed to listen to the entire album multiple times. Great tunes through and through. My favorites are L.A. Freeway, She’s Ain’t Going Nowhere, A Nickel for the FiddlerDesparados Waiting on the Train, Like a Coat From the Cold. Maybe others too. The shaggy-dog story on Texas, 1947, about putting a nickel on the train tracks as a six year-old boy has some great lines, as does That Old Time Feeling. What I’m saying is there are no skippable songs on Guy Clark’s debut album, Old No. 1

Maybe I’m about to start my mid-life crisis, though only if I concede to not living past the age of 120, maybe it is because so many of my formative years were spent in Austin, or maybe because I’m such a fan of Townes Van Zandt, but for whatever reason, I am adding this album to that best albums of 2014 post that I will probably never get around to writing…

Guy Clark Old No 1

Guy Clark pushes a fading, black and white photograph across the table. In it, a man leans against a 1939 Packard, foot propped up on the bumper in the dusty streets of Monahans, Texas. “Jack Prigg” reads the inscription on the back. He’s smiling and sharply dressed in a black suit, a gleam of success in his grin. The image is striking for its sheer contrast to the portrait of Prigg immortalized in Clark’s “Desper­ados Waiting for a Train,” the old, busted oil-driller crying at the kitchen table to broken memories and songs. “Well, that must have been a Sunday,” laughs Clark, looking at the photo as he carefully takes a toke from the last vestiges of a joint and lets loose a rattling cough.

The workshop in the basement of Clark’s west Nashville home collects such memories. His father’s Randall knife sits on the workbench alongside his tools for making guitars. Behind him, shelves of cassettes with handwritten labels display a country songwriters hall of fame. A black and white photo of Townes Van Zandt, his haunted eyes somehow tracking around the room, stares down from the wall. Clark pinches a clump of tobacco and begins rolling a cigarette. The 71-year-old songwriter’s eyes sharpen as he takes in the room, his lips pursed together between the faint stains of yellow on his white mustache and goatee.

“Shit, I’d go back to Texas in a second if I could break even,” he says. “But the music business is here, and if I could just pay back what they’ve given me, or advanced me, I would love to live in Texas. At this point, though, I don’t know. I’m too fucking old to move back, pack all this shit up.”

Clark’s lack of sentimentality is deceiving. What the songwriter submerges in person surfaces in the deeply personal poetry of his songs, from “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” to the elegy for his father in “The Randall Knife,” and the title track of his new album, “My Favorite Picture of You,” an ode to his wife Susanna, who passed away last year after an extended decline from cancer.

Guy and Susanna’s marriage stands as one of the great relationships in music. As strongly devoted as it was tumultuous, their union and the art it produced became the locus for a new community of songwriters that emerged in the Seventies, a wave of scrappy expatriate Texans overtaking Nashville that included Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and most notably, Van Zandt, whose lifelong friendships with both Clarks remain inextricable from the couple’s relationship.

Those days feel impossibly far away in the quiet of Clark’s house as he draws slowly on his cigarette.

“If you want good friends, they’re gonna cost you,” he notes as he exhales a thin line of smoke.

(click here to continue reading We Were From Texas: Guy Clark and the high price of inspiration – Music – The Austin Chronicle.)

from Thom Jurek’s review at Allmusic, where I learned that Steve Earle played on this album…3

If only every country songwriter could release a debut album as auspicious and fine as this one. Houston’s Guy Clark, well known to the outlaw movement for his poetic, stripped-to-the-truth songs about ramblers, history, the aged and infirm, the drunken, the lost, and the simple dignity of working people who confront the darkness and joy of life quietly, issued Old #1 when his compadres had already been making waves with his songs. Jerry Jeff Walker had already cut “L.A. Freeway” and other tunes by Clark, as had Gary Stewart, Billy Joe Shaver, and others. But the definitive versions come from Clark himself. On this disc with help from Emmylou Harris, fellow Houstoners (a young) Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell, guitar wizards Chip and Reggie Young, Mickey Raphael on harp, pianist David Briggs, fiddle boss Johnny Gimble, and the angel-voiced Sammi Smith, Clark executed a song cycle that is as intimate and immediate as it is quietly devastating with its vision of brokenness and melancholy, loose wild times, and unforgettable characters.…Old #1 was unequaled in 1975 for the depth of its vision and the largeness of its artistic and empathetic heart; only Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run came close to it in terms of aesthetic merit.

(click here to continue reading Old No. 1 – Guy Clark | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic.)

I’d rather listen to this album a million times more than having to plod through Born to Run again.

Footnotes:
  1. album, usually, but sometimes a particular song, or artist []
  2. Desperados Waiting for A Train []
  3. Steve’s first known professional recording was with Guy Clark on Guy’s 1975 album Old No. 1. Steve sang back-up vocals (along with Rodney Crowell, Sammy Smith, and Emmylou Harris [“The first time I met Emmylou, she came in to sing on Guy Clark’s first album. She gave me half of her cheeseburger. I wasn’t the same for weeks.”]) on the song Desperados Waiting For A Train. Steve toured with Guy from early ’75 until late ’76. Steve also may have appeared in Robert Altman’s 1975 film, Nashville (he was part of a large crowd scene in Centennial Park, but it’s not clear whether he actually shows up in the film via []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 24th, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Music,Suggestions

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2013 Year End Music Reviews – Califone – Stitches

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Califone – Stiches

Rating: A-

Chicago1 based indie rock band, lovely stuff. I really should see them live. Sweeping music-scapes, melancholic desert folk. Pitchfork reviewer Steven Hyden calls Stiches, “a downbeat existential western from the early 70s.”

In a certain mental state, perfect music for contemplation and rumination. 

Footnotes:
  1. possibly relocating to Texas, but not relevant []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 16th, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Music,Suggestions

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David Bowie art exhibit coming to the MCA

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Hunky Dory
Hunky Dory

Cool, we’ll have to go to this…

David Bowie is the Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, as well-known for his five decades of music as for his slippery personas. David Bowie begat the shape-shifting of Madonna, who begat Lady Gaga. David Bowie, who earlier this year released his first album since 2003, is also likely not touring any time soon.

But “David Bowie is” … coming to Chicago.

“David Bowie is,” the blockbuster retrospective on the life and influence of the iconoclastic artist — which closes Sunday at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London — will open at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in September 2014. Right now, the MCA is the only U.S. stop for the exhibit, which travels to Toronto next month and has drawn more than 300,000 visitors to the V&A since it opened there in March.

The show, which features 300 objects culled from the artist’s personal 75,000-piece archive, will include set designs, video installations, music-video storyboards, handwritten lyrics, photos and, of course, decades of his wardrobes — including pieces from designer Alexander McQueen and Bowie’s legendary Ziggy Stardust tour. The show, which unfolds as a kind of biography, aims to place the singer in a larger context, reflecting on Bowie’s own avant garde influences while pointing toward Bowie’s prescient merging of sound and vision.

…Asked if the MCA would try to recruit Bowie — who has lived in New York City for many years, and become increasingly known for his reclusive, elusive, J.D. Salinger-esque existence — to attend the Chicago opening, Darling said: “Of course. Of course. We will do everything we can, but then, I don’t know …”  

(click here to continue reading David Bowie art exhibit coming to the MCA – Chicago Tribune.)

from the MCA website:

David Bowie is presents the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie—one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. More than 300 objects, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades are brought together from the David Bowie Archive for the first time. The exhibition demonstrates how Bowie’s work has both influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design, theater, and contemporary culture and focuses on his creative processes, shifting style, and collaborative work with diverse designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, and film. The exhibition’s multimedia design introduces advanced sound technology, original animations, and video installations to create an immersive journey through the artistic life of one of the most iconic figures of our time, David Bowie. This exhibition was organized by the V&A Museum in London.

(click here to continue reading David Bowie is | Exhibitions | MCA Chicago.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 7th, 2013 at 7:51 am

Repo Man: A Lattice of Coincidence

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Sam McPheeters writes a paean to a favorite film of mine, Repo Man. Repo Man has been out of print recently, but now The Criterion Collection has rescued it, and restored it as well. I’m really tempted to get a copy. For many years, the phrase “Let’s get sushi… and not pay!” has been an oft repeated phrase in my monologues.1 Also, “I don’t want no Commies in my car!… No Christians, either!” in my best Harry Dean Stanton Old West voice…

Repo Man, released in early 1984, was the first feature film by a twenty- nine-year-old British UCLA film school graduate named Alex Cox. Even now, the film’s existence seems implausible. It is an apocalypse tale with no doomsday, a punk movie with no concert, a science fiction story with less than ten seconds of aliens. Most of its now classic music was on the far, far edge of American society in 1984. It mines a world of drugs, crime, and capitalist peril for absurdist yuks (when Cox showed the film to his contacts in the real world of Los Angeles auto repossession, they found it to be a diluted version of their much more terrifying jobs). The project, originally envisioned at one-tenth of its final budget, was picked up by Universal Studios. That backing launched the green director into the unfamiliar universe of teamsters and lawyers and the watchful eyes of a studio that could smoosh the project with one phone call.

Criterion Repo Man

Criterion Collection – Repo Man

How a major studio allowed such a vehemently odd movie to exist really is a mystery. Its outlandishness isn’t forced; it’s forceful. This is a film that expands a singular style of humor into an entire worldview, a physics as vast as the Force in Star Wars. But part of the mystery is also that Cox could gather so much talent in one place. Granted full autonomy in his casting, he somehow assembled a flawless ensemble. Emilio Estevez’s Otto is a pitch-perfect mix of blank ambition and obliviousness. Matching this is the world-weary exhaustion—dubbed “the Old West/cadaver look” by a friend of Cox’s—of Harry Dean Stanton’s Bud. Otto is a baby-faced punker initiated into a secretive trade by Bud, who listens to obsolete music, dresses square, and dreams small. Their worldviews collide in the new terrain of early eighties America, an era of subtle but rapid change from the Me Decade to the Greed Decade.

(click here to continue reading Repo Man: A Lattice of Coincidence – From the Current – The Criterion Collection.)

I know I saw the Repo Man film in the theatre, but I don’t know if it was during the first run, or after the soundtrack made a splash. In those old dusty days, before the internet, before cable television, before DVDs and streaming video services, I saw a lot of movies on opening weekend. I do remember it being a mostly empty theatre, but laughing hysterically at the cans of generic food…

Repo Man thrived largely because of its music. The soundtrack not only resurrected the theatrical run, it also stoked interest in the video release. The film had the wonderful serendipity to enter the VHS market during the golden age of video stores. In the mideighties, “cult film” was both an aesthetic and a status facilitated by scarcity. Video connoisseurs of the pre-Internet world foraged through shelves and bins, propelled by word of mouth and employee picks. Even if you managed to catch the infamously edited television version of Repo Man (with “flip you” and “melon farmer” dubbed over saltier insults), you would have had to own a VCR to share the experience with friends. The film bloomed as a phenomenon not just because it had to be sought out but because it delivered on expectations when finally found.

Musically as well, it’s hard to think of another nondocumentary film with the preposterously marvelous timing of Repo Man—Cox had the most vibrant and diverse punk scene in America to work with. And certainly no other film used such good fortune to such novel effect. Consider the cameo by the Circle Jerks. That scene shows one of the mightiest lineups in the first wave of American hardcore—Keith Morris, Greg Hetson, Earl Liberty of Saccharine Trust, and the celebrated drummer Chuck Biscuits—in that incarnation of the band’s only recorded performance, as a drum-machine-backed lounge act.

If you haven’t seen the film in a while, or ever, give it a spin…

Repo Man Poster

Repo Man Poster

Footnotes:
  1. conversations, dialogues, whatever []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 16th, 2013 at 5:03 pm

The Modern Lovers -Roadrunner – Official State Song of Massachusetts

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Some politician wants to make Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lover’s seminal tune, Roadrunner, into the Official State Song. I could agree with that. I remember listening to this song back in the stone age, before CDs, and I always loved it. Maybe because it is so much a descendant of the Velvet Underground sound, or just because it is cool. I had forgotten that John Cale produced the song.

One of these days I’ll be a tourist in Boston…

 

Roadrunner, filmed in Boston, circa 1976

I’ve never been to Massachusetts, but this song evokes what MA is, to me anyway.

From Wikipedia:

Richman’s band The Modern Lovers first recorded “Roadrunner” with producer John Cale (previously of the Velvet Underground) in 1972. This version was first released as single and in 1976 on The Modern Lovers’ long-delayed but highly acclaimed debut album (originally Home of the Hits HH019). Later in 1972, the group recorded two more versions with Kim Fowley, which were released in 1981 on the album, The Original Modern Lovers (Bomp BLP 4021). A live version from 1973 was also later officially released on the album, Live At Longbranch Saloon. The most commercially successful version of the song, credited to Richman as a solo artist, was recorded for Beserkley Records in late 1974, produced by label boss Matthew King Kaufman, featured Jonathan backed by The Greg Kihn Band and released at the time on a single (Beserkley B-34701) with a B-side by the band Earth Quake. Kaufman stated: “To record “Roadrunner” took the 3 minutes 35 seconds for the performance, about another 30 minutes to dump the background vocals on, and another 90 minutes to mix it”. Actually Kaufman was mistaken – this version is listed on the UK release of the single as being 4:40. This version was reissued in 1975 on the album Beserkley Chartbusters Vol. 1(Beserkley JBZ-0044). In the UK, where Richman had received substantial and very positive publicity in the music press, it was released in 1977 as a single (Beserkley BZZ 1), known as “Roadrunner (Once)” and credited to Jonathan Richman, with the Cale-produced “Roadrunner (Twice)” on the B-side, credited to The Modern Lovers, and lasting approximately 4:06. This single reached number 11 in the UK singles chart in August 1977. The differences among all these versions are in the lyrics, the duration, the instrumentation (electric garage rock vs. acoustic rock) and the way Jonathan sings them.

(click here to continue reading Roadrunner (Jonathan Richman song) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

and from Rolling Stone:

Jonathan Richman used to describe “Roadrunner,” the best-known song by his band the Modern Lovers, as a “geographical love song.” Now his affection for his home state is on the verge of being institutionalized: there is a movement underway to make the classic song – an ode to the singer’s native Massachusetts as it appeared through his windshield (“Gonna drive past the Stop and Shop with the radio on”) – the state’s official rock song.

Last week, Massachusetts State Representative Marty Walsh filed a bill proposing as much. Jerry Harrison, who joined Talking Heads after the first recorded lineup of the Modern Lovers split, tells Rolling Stone he’s pleased. “I can’t tell you how many congratulatory emails I’ve gotten,” he says.

The push to designate “Roadrunner” as the official rock song of Massachusetts began with Joyce Linehan, a Boston publicist who did A&R for Sub Pop Records and now has a record label with Joe Pernice. She has political connections, too: she worked closely with Elizabeth Warren on her successful campaign for the U.S. Senate.

 

(click here to continue reading Modern Lovers’ ‘Roadrunner’ Proposed as Massachusetts’ Official Rock Song | Music News | Rolling Stone.)

one two three four five six
Roadrunner, roadrunner
Going faster miles an hour
Gonna drive past the Stop ‘n’ Shop
With the radio on

I’m in love with Massachusetts
And the neon when it’s cold outside
And the highway when it’s late at night
Got the radio on
I’m like the roadrunner

Alright
I’m in love with modern moonlight
128 when it’s dark outside
I’m in love with Massachusetts
I’m in love with the radio on
It helps me from being alone late at night
It helps me from being lonely late at night
I don’t feel so bad now in the car
Don’t feel so alone, got the radio on
Like the roadrunner
That’s right

Said welcome to the spirit of 1956
Patient in the bushes next to ’57
The highway is your girlfriend as you go by quick
Suburban trees, suburban speed
And it smells like heaven(thunder)
And I say roadrunner once
Roadrunner twice
I’m in love with rock & roll and I’ll be out all night
Roadrunner
That’s right

Well now
Roadrunner, roadrunner
Going faster miles an hour
Gonna drive to the Stop ‘n’ Shop
With the radio on at night
And me in love with modern moonlight
Me in love with modern rock & roll
Modern girls and modern rock & roll
Don’t feel so alone, got the radio on
Like the roadrunner
O.K., now you sing Modern Lovers

(Radio On!)
I got the AM
(Radio On!)
Got the car, got the AM
(Radio On!)
Got the AM sound, got the
(Radio On!)
Got the rockin’ modern neon sound
(Radio On!)
I got the car from Massachusetts, got the
(Radio On!)
I got the power of Massachusetts when it’s late at night
(Radio On!)
I got the modern sounds of modern Massachusetts
I’ve got the world, got the turnpike, got the
I’ve got the, got the power of the AM
Got the, late at night, (?), rock & roll late at night
The factories and the auto signs got the power of modern sounds
Alright

Right, bye bye!

More reasons to love this song:

Roadrunner is one of the most magical songs in existence. It is a song about what it means to be young, and behind the wheel of an automobile, with the radio on and the night and the highway stretched out before you. It is a paean to the modern world, to the urban landscape, to the Plymouth Roadrunner car, to roadside restaurants, neon lights, suburbia, the highway, the darkness, pine trees and supermarkets. As Greil Marcus put it in his book Lipstick Traces: “Roadrunner was the most obvious song in the world, and the strangest.”

One version of Roadrunner – Roadrunner (Twice) – reached No 11 in the UK charts, but the song’s influence would extend much further. Its first incarnation, Roadrunner (Once), recorded in 1972 and produced by John Cale, but not released until 1976, was described by film director Richard Linklater as “the first punk song”; he placed it on the soundtrack to his film School of Rock. As punk took shape in London, Roadrunner was one of the songs the Sex Pistols covered at their early rehearsals. Another 20 years on and Cornershop would cite it as the inspiration behind their No 1 single Brimful of Asha, and a few years later, Rolling Stone put it at 269 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Its impact would be felt in other ways, too: musicians playing on this song included keyboard player Jerry Harrison, who would later join Talking Heads, and drummer David Robinson, who went on to join the Cars. Its power was in the simplicity both of its music – a drone of guitar, organ, bass and drums around a simple two-chord structure – and of its message that it’s great to be alive.

(click here to continue reading The car, the radio, the night – and rock’s most thrilling song | Music | The Guardian.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 21st, 2013 at 12:25 am

Posted in Music,Suggestions

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Jungleland: In search of a lost city

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Jungleland cover
jungleland_cover

Sounds fun – exploring without leaving the comfort of my office couch…

The true story Christopher S. Stewart has to tell in “Jungleland” resembles nothing so much as the set-up for one of H. Rider Haggard’s old pulp adventure novels. It’s got a fabled lost city somewhere in the midst of a trackless rainforest, intrepid explorers, stoic guides, assorted dangerous animals and sinister bad guys, and a dash of espionage. Even the local tribesmen get in on the act, issuing forth vague warnings about “forbidden” zones, the voices of the dead, evil spirits and monkey gods.

Stewart, a journalist specializing in war and organized crime, first heard about Ciudad Blanco — the White City, a magnificent ruin rumored to be buried deep in the jungles of the Mosquitia region of Honduras — while reporting on the booming Honduran drug trade in 2008. An American ex-soldier who had been involved in training the Nicaraguan contras told him about the legend while describing Mosquitia as the “shittiest, buggiest shithole jungle in the world.” Stewart was soon obsessed, and in a few months, he was on a plane for Central America.

He was far from the first to heed the call. Explorers ranging from Columbus to Cortes had taken note of the rumors, and the first Catholic bishop of Honduras informed the king of Spain that he’d heard tell of the city from the lips of an “Indian princess;” she said its aristocrats ate from solid gold plates. Charles Lindbergh claimed to have spotted the white ruins of “an amazing ancient metropolis” while flying over Central America, and many other visitors to the region have found artifacts that seem to be the remnants of a sophisticated culture. The most recent and apparently reliable eyewitness account dated back to 1940, when Theodore Morde, a 29-year-old adventurer from Massachusetts, claimed to have stumbled on the city while wandering in the heart of the jungle.

(click here to continue reading “Jungleland”: In search of a lost city – Salon.com.)

Available in a couple weeks, I’ll tell you how it is.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 31st, 2012 at 12:30 am

Posted in Books,Suggestions

Tagged with , ,

Sazerac Cocktail

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Sazerac Cocktail

Sazerac Cocktail

Here’s how I made this.

  1. Ran cold water over a martini glass and put it in the freezer.
  2. Took an ice cube out of the freezer. I use ginormous ice cubes, in general, so they make drinks cold quicker, without diluting the spirits. You might need to use three normal ice cubes instead.
  3. Spoonful of sugar1 placed in tall glass.
  4. Add Peychaud’s Bitters2, and mash with a muddler. Toss in a few ounces of Rye Whiskey, and continue muddling. Add ice cube, and stir vigorously.
  5. Take martini glass out of the freezer, and add a drop of Absinthe to it. Swirl the Absinthe around the glass, and discard the rest.
  6. Decant the whiskey mixture into the martini glass.
  7. Slice a bit of lemon skin, express the juice of it on the edge of the glass, and drop it in the mixture.
  8. Drink, enjoy.

If I made this again, I would serve it in an old fashioned glass with ice – this would help dilute the whiskey a bit more. As it was, the whiskey had a bit of a bite still. Quite delicious, especially if you have a taste for rye whiskey.

Footnotes:
  1. I couldn’t find my sugar cubes, so estimated []
  2. about 5 dashes, adjust for taste []

Written by Seth Anderson

September 29th, 2012 at 1:44 am

Texas Thunder Soul

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Director Mark Landsman totes his cameras to a tight-knit North Houston community in this poignant documentary, which celebrates an inner-city high school bandleader’s lasting influence on his now-grown students.

via Netflix

And a repost from my old blog, thanks to a question from Beth

The calendar year isn’t over yet, but as of today, my favorite album of the year is a compilation of high school marching band music from Kashmere High School in Houston, TX, recorded by their band director, Conrad O Johnson in the years 1968 – 1974. I wish my high school band funked as hard. I’m looking at you, Beth.

In fact, I wish I knew of some contemporary bands that funked as hard. Wow. Hard not to dance in one’s chair when the songs pulse out of one’s speakers. We mentioned the release of this compilation a few months ago, and I bought the CD within the week, of course.

Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974
“Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974” (Kashmere Stage Band)

NPR/KUT-Austin recently broadcast a small article, with some song samples:

At first, judges didn’t know what to make of the kids from Kashmere in their platform shoes and matching crushed-velvet suits. Their impeccably choreographed moves were more James Brown than high school big band, and the music was often an original funk composition by Johnson himself.

But KSB was soon winning national championships, and a larger-than-life reputation as undefeatable. For 10 years, even with constant changes in the lineup as kids graduated, KSB was considered by some to be not only the nation’s best stage band, but one of the best funk bands — period.

Between 1968 and 1978, KSB recorded eight studio albums. As Johnson neared retirement in 1978, the band broke up, and before long, the band was largely forgotten. But not by everyone. Kashmere’s recordings became prized by hip-hop producers and DJs, who sampled them and played them in clubs.

Highly recommended.

Kashmere stage band2 Kashmere stage band1

Written by Seth Anderson

September 20th, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Posted in Music,Suggestions

Tagged with ,

Cat Power’s Bright Side : The New Yorker

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Cat Power is usually interesting, I like this album so far, on first listen.

Sasha Frere-Jones writes:

“Sun” finds Marshall returning to an approach she’s successfully used before—reduction and focus. In the past few years, especially in live performances, she has sung in a loose, dynamic way over the work of accomplished professionals. These shows have been compelling but sprawling. “Sun,” by contrast, is basic and compressed; it relies on repetition rather than risk the peaks and valleys that a clutch of virtuosic musicians make possible.

Though not professionally trained in any particular instrument, Marshall played and sang everything on the album, except for a few moments, in one song, of guitar and drumming, provided by Judah Bauer and Jim White, and a noticeable vocal cameo by Iggy Pop. These days, music that is recorded by just one person often takes on the aesthetic of the loop—computer technology makes it easy to set up a repetitive phrase and then play along to it. Creating an unpredictable feel can be tricky when the solid next step has already been constructed, and the album occasionally reflects this problem. Yet this style of working is conducive to making propulsive beats, and much of the album could be danced to.

Marshall’s chosen instrumentation for “Sun” is roughly that of a traditional live rock band, with drums and piano at the forefront, and guitars and synthesizers trading off in accompaniment. Unlike her last few albums, “Sun” has very few songs that use isolated vocal performances. Marshall’s voice, which is her strongest asset, is heard mostly in multitracked harmony with itself, small ensembles that make the songs more general than intimate. The resulting sound is less of a person conveying stories or feelings than of a volunteer choir chanting hymns. It turns out that, if you leave Chan Marshall alone with her gear, you get more songs and less Chan Marshall. After being the center of her own work in a fairly traditional way, Marshall has built an album that seeks to catalogue problems and ideas rather than frame her own voice.

(click here to continue reading Cat Power’s Bright Side : The New Yorker.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 11th, 2012 at 7:49 am

Posted in Music,Suggestions

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Largo – Loosely Based On Symphony Number 9

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I’ll admit, I have owned the CD, Largo, for quite a long time, but had forgotten about how much I liked it until this evening when Largo came up via my Album Randomizer. Really, really good, you should give it a spin, presuming you can find a copy. As far as I can tell, Wikipedia doesn’t even have an entry for Largo. 

The impetus for the album is artists reacting to Dvorak’s New World Symphony

Dvořák was interested in the Native American music and African-American spirituals he heard in America. Upon his arrival in America, he stated:

“I am convinced that the future music of this country must be founded on what are called Negro melodies. These can be the foundation of a serious and original school of composition, to be developed in the United States. These beautiful and varied themes are the product of the soil. They are the folk songs of America and your composers must turn to them.”

The symphony was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, and premiered on December 16, 1893, at Carnegie Hall conducted by Anton Seidl. A day earlier, in an article published in the New York Herald on December 15, 1893, Dvořák further explained how Native American music had been an influence on this symphony: “I have not actually used any of the [Native American] melodies. I have simply written original themes embodying the peculiarities of the Indian music, and, using these themes as subjects, have developed them with all the resources of modern rhythms, counterpoint, and orchestral colour.” In the same article, Dvořák stated that he regarded the symphony’s second movement as a “sketch or study for a later work, either a cantata or opera … which will be based upon Longfellow’s [The Song of] Hiawatha” (Dvořák never actually wrote such a piece).

He also wrote that the third movement scherzo was “suggested by the scene at the feast in Hiawatha where the Indians dance”. Curiously enough, passages which modern ears perceive as the musical idiom of African-American spirituals may have been intended by Dvořák to evoke a Native American atmosphere. In 1893, a newspaper interview quoted Dvořák as saying “I found that the music of the negroes and of the Indians was practically identical”, and that “the music of the two races bore a remarkable similarity to the music of Scotland”.

Most historians agree that Dvořák is referring to the pentatonic scale, which is typical of each of these musical traditions.

(click here to continue reading Symphony No. 9 (Dvořák) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Allmusic’s Geoff Ginsberg writes:

Largo is everything Americana should be. It is also (easily) one of the most ambitious albums of the digital era. Just their luck: they hit a home run while the entire crowd was out in the beer line. Between major-label mergers and the fact that it just says “Largo” on the cover, this flat-out masterpiece was lost in the shuffle and almost no one heard it.

It is a swirling concept album touching on believable stories seen through the eyes of diverse Americans. Make no mistake, though, this is timeless rock with big hooks, not roots revivalism. Largo was produced by Rick Chertoff and his college roommate Rob Hyman of the Hooters; the two co-wrote nearly the whole album with Hooter Eric Bazilian and singer/songwriter David Foreman.

The A-list talent (several of whom have hit records produced by Chertoff) is almost an embarrassment of riches, but it never sounds like a compilation album; it is focused and unified. “Freedom Ride,” an out of the gates rocker, is sung by Taj Mahal. “Gimme a Stone” is a duet between Levon Helm of the Band and Foreman. It’s a song for all but those who root for Goliath. Cyndi Lauper wails out on “White Man’s Melody,” and Joan Osborne turns in a memorable vocal “An Uncommon Love,” a Carole King co-write that King also sings on. Osborne is also all over “Hand in Mine,” which features a bleary-eyed co-lead from Hyman, whose knack for universal melodies is on full display on the track (and the whole album). Foreman’s voice is deep and resonant, and his performances (as on the down, dirty, and devastating “Disorient Express” and the ballad “Largo’s Dream”) make you wonder where this guy has been all these years.

Willie Nile turns up for the punky “Medallion,” a song about a Pakistani cab driver working to make enough money to bring his family over. These songs are about people you might meet, not some spent myth. The album has several versions of Dvorak’s “Largo” (performed by the likes of the Chieftains and Garth Hudson of the Band) which separate the groups of songs; it was Dvorak’s trip to the New World that inspired Largo. The album has been completely out of print for years, but Roger Daltrey (who performs “Freedom Ride” and “Gimmie a Stone” live) pressured iTunes into providing a digital option.

(click here to continue reading Largo – Largo : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic.)

From a 1998 NYT review by Jon Pareless

The austere, comforting melody of the Largo movement of Antonin Dvorak’s ”New World” Symphony drew on the spirituals and parlor songs that the Czech composer heard during his residency in the United States. A century later, the theme set Rob Hyman, Rick Chertoff and various collaborators thinking about American roots, immigration and cross-cultural encounters; the result is the ambitious album ”Largo” (Blue Gorilla/Mercury). In variations and extrapolations of Dvorak’s tune, the collaborators came up with homey songs about an America where exploitation and promise are inseparable.

Mr. Hyman, Mr. Chertoff and Eric Bazilian have worked together for two decades; they specialize in a kind of rusticated folk-pop, with hymnlike tunes and arrangements that use instruments like mandolin, accordion and churchy organ. …The three have also produced or written songs for Taj Mahal, Cyndi Lauper and Joan Osborne, all of whom sang both on the ‘’Largo’’ album…

David Forman, who collaborated on many of the new songs, Willie Nile and Sissel (a Norwegian singer whose wordless vocals are on the ”Titanic” soundtrack) were also on hand, generally keeping Mr. Hyman’s vocals in the background. Garth Hudson of the Band sat in on keyboards.

”Largo” brought out the best in the longtime collaborators. Mr. Forman’s presence seems to have curbed the Hooters’ old penchant for platitudes. Most of the songs have a Celtic and Appalachian flavor: waltzes and marches that carry tender love songs like ”Hand in Mine” or the jaunty ”Gimme a Stone,” which retells the David and Goliath story with the melody of a reel and a reggae backbeat. In a few songs, Ms. Lauper played the penny whistle; Mr. Bazilian supplied keening, off-tune hooks from a hurdy-gurdy.

Ms. Osborne brought poise and kindliness to love songs, warming lines like ”All the walls we build between us make it so hard to be together.” In a barely rehearsed encore, she turned backup vocals into joyful affirmations. Mr. Mahal and Mr. Forman applied scratchy, weathered voices to songs hinting at tough immigrant experiences: slavery in ”Banjoman,” Chinese railroad labor in ”Disorient Express.” Mr. Nile sang a Pakistani cab driver’s soliloquy in ”Medallion.” Mr. Hudson turned the ”Largo” theme into a free-form hymn on keyboard, then switched to tenor saxophone for a bluesy, confiding version of the melody. And Sissel sang the words to ”Goin’ Home” with a sweet, almost operatic purity, honoring the unlikely source of some worthy new songs.

(click here to continue reading POP REVIEW – POP REVIEW – Long After Dvorak, Perils and Promise of the ‘New World’ – Review – NYTimes.com.)

An unusual and interesting piece of pop and roots music comes from an unlikely collection of musicians. The brain children of Largo are producer/writer Rick Chertoff, Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman, both members of the roots-rock band The Hooters and NYC songwriter David Foreman. Sharing an interest in Antonin Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” (of which “Largo” is probably the most familiar and hummable melody), the two decided to write an album of pop songs based on the lyrical themes of the work. In addition to their own voices and instruments, they have pulled together an impressive cast of artists to complete the vision; Garth Hudson and Levon Helm (The Band), all of The Chieftains, Taj Mahal, Joan Osborne, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nile and Giovanii Hidalgo.

There is a unique quality to this recording, and while it occasionally gets to be like a wanna-be of The Band (not a bad thing to emulate, I guess), the crisp, direct style pulls it back most of the time. The themes are pretty standard “American Dream” fare, of highways and workers, lovers and sideshows, modern versions of Dvorak’s stories of “the road” to the American west, but they all touch on personal stories and characters.

(click here to continue reading Roots World – Largo.)

Like I said, you’d probably like this album if you gave it a chance…

Written by Seth Anderson

August 29th, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Posted in Music,Suggestions

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Taylor Parkes On Can Boxed Set – The Lost Tapes

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CAN - The Lost Tapes
CAN – The Lost Tapes

I am just unwrapping my copy of this; I haven’t heard it yet, but I’m already in a better mood…

Fifteen, twenty years ago, it would have been natural to respond to The Lost Tapes not just with astounded applause but with a rather lofty prescription: any group could learn a lot from close, repeated listening. It’s still true, of course, but in 2012 it seems a bit out of touch. In many ways Can – whose name so clearly dates them to a time before the internet search – were not like us, sat here with conflicting histories of everything, isolated by choice and by the new demands of our miserable lives. Living and working together was the point; the strengths of five individuals merged to create something greater, something uncontainable.

Can’s spontaneous, co-operative creativity hasn’t been weakened by time or by anything else; the music here sounds somehow even more potent, having outlasted all the cultural currents which carried it in. It sounds almost revolutionary again. Something unburdened by the self, or by self-consciousness; free of the past and the present.

Holger Czukay, somewhat professorial at the age of 30, joined Inner Space (the original name of the group formed by keyboard player Irmin Schmidt) on the understanding it would be a kind of art collective, a rather academic fusion of rock with the teachings of Karlheinz Stockhausen, he and Schmidt’s old teacher and mentor. In fact, from the sound of ‘Millionenspiel’, the opening track on this collection, Inner Space progressed very quickly to what would become the early Can sound (‘Millionenspiel’ is a psychedelicised Chantays on a surfin’ safari through medieval Europe and Jamaica in the 50s, far beyond the fumblings of the Prehistoric Future tape). Still, it was only when grainy-voiced Malcolm Mooney joined on vocals that Czukay grasped what could really be achieved. As he describes it in the sleeve notes to The Lost Tapes, “Stockhausen with a hell of a drive!”

That drive was Can’s trademark, powered not just by Mooney’s aggression but by Michael Karoli’s tattoo-needle guitar style and (especially) the drumming of Jaki Liebezeit, in which the delicacy and invention of jazz was applied to a series of rigidly mechanised beats, a kind of percussive hypnosis driving the others forward without fear. In time, as Mooney was replaced by the ethereal Damo Suzuki, the drive became more of a glide, the sound spun out until it was almost translucent, but the band retained its eerie power: heavy when featherlight, direct when delirious. In the glow of Schloss Norvenich, their hidey-hole near Cologne (then later at Inner Space Studios, a refurbished cinema in nearby Weilerswist), Can spent hours and days and nights and sunrises and sunsets playing. Everything was recorded, although not everything survived, because of the cost of tape, and – according to Schmidt in the sleeve notes – because of Liebezeit’s insistence on constant forward movement: “Erase!” These three discs have been assembled from a pile of rediscovered masters, pulled from a cupboard after nearly forty years, and if they’d been recorded this morning they’d sound like they came from the future.

Occasionally, the centre fails to hold and Can are pitched off in different directions: such is the price of freedom. Still, on those rare occasions where the music is slightly ragged, it remains relentlessly inventive. The single most jaw-dropping thing about Can was this unstoppable originality – what stands out most clearly here is that even at the point of exhaustion, where anyone else would fall back on shopworn blues riffs and keyboard-demo drum fills, Can were utterly incapable of cliché. And when all five members coalesce – which they do more often than not, more often than pretty much any other group who ever relied on improvisation and daring – the results are incomparable, sometimes indescribable.

(click here to continue reading The Quietus | Features | Constant Forward Movement: Taylor Parkes On Can’s Lost Tapes.)

so what are you waiting for? Money is for spending, not hoarding…


and this is a good definition of the band’s aesthetic as any:

The music of Can was never explicitly political, but it was always radical. A synthesis of Stockhausen, Sly & The Family Stone, ‘Sister Ray’ and Ornette Coleman would be musically incendiary at any time, but in these times it was more than that. Can’s aesthetic choices may have been instinctive, but they weren’t coincidental: they were drawn to African rhythms, to the music of Eastern European gypsies, to non-hierarchical systems, personally and musically (crucial to their sound was the abuse of those strict tonal relationships enforced by the Third Reich’s cultural guardians). They were, in Nazi parlance, Entartete Musik – degenerate music – taken almost to its limit. This was not necessarily a deliberate choice on their part. But with that mindset, in that country, at that point in history, there was no choice.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 16th, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Bob Dylan’s Tempest Album Has The Wheeze And Gargle Of An Old Man

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The Bob Dylan media onslaught has already begun…

Neil McCormick of The Telegraph writes:

The word is that Dylan is pleased with his latest effort, or, as someone at his record company told me, “he wants people to hear it.” I have had the privilege of being amongst a select few journalists around the world to be allowed a sneak preview. It would be absurd to attempt a definitive review based on such a cursory listen but I was blown away with the mad energy of the album.

At 71-years-old Dylan is still striking out into strange new places rather than revisiting his past. Although he no longer attempts to scale the heights of poetic imagery and dense metaphor that established him as popular music’s greatest lyricist, instead writing in bluesy couplets, the extreme collision of ideas and characters and the mysterious, ambivalent arcs of his narratives creates a pungent effect. Dylan still has the power to disturb and thrill. I emerged from this listening session feeling like I had been on a journey into the weird dream territory of Ballad Of A Thin Man, where nothing is quite what it seems.

His voice, often little more than a croak on stage these days, invests these ten tracks with the spirit of something ancient. Sure, he has the wheeze and gargle of an old man, but the words come through loud and clear, delivered with real relish. Los Lobos founder David Hidalgo’s fiddle weaves through the acoustic shuffle of Dylan’s touring band, guitarist Charlie Sexton, Stu Kimball and Donnie Heron, drummer George Receli and bassist Tony Garnier.

The sound is a continuation of the blues, country and folk styles that run through all his later work, but with less of the kind of Thirties pastiche he’s played with since 2001’s Love And Theft . There is a sense is that Dylan is still honing in on that wild, mercurial music he hears in his head.

(click here to continue reading Bob Dylan’s Tempest: first listen – Telegraph.)

I’m sort of sick of that 1930’s pastiche actually, will be glad to hear something different.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 9th, 2012 at 8:36 am

Posted in Music,Suggestions

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Tom Waits – Hell Broke Luce

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 A surreal yet intriguing music video of the Tom Waits song, Hell Broke Luce, from his 2011 album, Bad as Me.1

Directed and photographed by Matt Mahurin, and only recently released, as far as I can tell…  ((as of right now, only 307 views, despite being linked from TomWaits.com ))

Footnotes:
  1. Wikipedia []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 7th, 2012 at 11:44 am

Posted in Film,Music,Suggestions

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Arrested Development’s 4th Season

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Fox canceled “Arrested Development,” about an absurdly dysfunctional family, in 2006 after three seasons. But it developed a vocal cult audience. Netflix has taken it over and is producing a fourth season as original programming. The twist: As with the company’s other original series, all 10 new “Arrested Development” episodes will go up for streaming at the same time. Mr. Hurwitz is sure some fans will devour the entire five hours in one sitting. “It’s throwing me,” he says.

His solution was to build each new episode around one character. The stories in all 10 episodes unfold simultaneously, overlapping here and there. Unlike writing a traditional sitcom, Mr. Hurwitz says, “we’re sort of driving into the next episode rather than wrapping things up.”

(click here to continue reading Binge Viewing: TV’s Lost Weekends – WSJ.com.)

Can’t wait. 

 

Steve Holt!

Written by Seth Anderson

July 14th, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Posted in Suggestions,Television

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