Monday, December 29, 2008

Gram Parsons- GP-1973

I'm closing out the year with a legend. Perhaps you're already one of the gazillions of fans who worship at the altar of Gram but I never tire of talking about him. I like GP because on this record Gram found a soul mate in Emmylou Harris and the magical harmonizing ensued. "She" remains my favorite Gram song. The New Soft Shoe,  Big Mouth Blues, We'll Sweep Out The Ashes In The  Morning are all Soul movers. People say that this album doesn't have the edge that say "Gilded Palace Of Sin" or "Grievous Angel" has  but I just think it's so damn sweet and that's what I think Gram was. He was a sweet guy. A Fuck up sure, but a sweet one. Gram, in his short but shiny career, influenced more musicians than I have room for on this blog. This record is a gem, not to be hidden away but to be played over and over.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bryan Ferry- Boys and Girls-1985

I don't know if I'm happy or unhappy that I was born too late to enjoy the vastly vapid days of disco but the closest I get to a disco beat is Bryan Ferry and  how I love him. First of all, he's sexy as hell. He would get my vote just for the way he dresses but he completely does me in with Slave to Love I mean...right? Admittedly, he's spotty on his other solo releases and he should really stop with the covers that have been covered and covered but "Boys and Girls" is about the best album I own for dancing in your underwear under a mirror ball. Barring Slave to Love, the cuts on this album tend to blend into each other but there's a soulfulness to the throbbing. No one can mean it quite like Bryan. Guest musicians include Mark Knopfler and David Gilmour. Although they don't get all experimental on this album, their sound is unmistakable and they certainly add  a little somethin' somethin' to it. Check it out. Mirror ball not included.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

And finally- The Graduate-1968

I know that I said that I was done with soundtrack week but I suddenly remembered that I'd forgotten "The Graduate". First of all, GREAT movie, and may I add that I am generally not a Mike Nichols fan but this movie is his swansong and apparently his rock and roll has put on weight since then. At Christmas, I generally like to drag out a vintage film and eat chocolate and this year, The Graduate was my Christmas film. 
I recognize that one really does have to be a Simon and Garfunkel fan to appreciate this one but really...who isn't? Best song on the LP, naturally "Mrs. Robinson" (buyer beware: Both versions on the soundtrack are shortened for the film. For the full album length see: Bookends). The composed cuts by Dave Grusin are also fun. I think the thing I like so much about this soundtrack is that it so eloquently evokes the era.  Okay, this is really it, I'm moving on. Stay tuned for my top ten LP re-issues.

Monday, December 22, 2008

THE BEST FOR LAST-One From The Heart- Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle

One From The Heart was a movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It was a very expensive bomb, probably because they tried to recreate Las Vegas on a Hollywood backlot. DO NOT let that deter you from running to your nearest used record outlet and snapping up this soundtrack. Every second of it is divine. The unlikely coupling of Crystal Gayle and Tom Waits was genius. Tom met his wife, Kathleen Brennan while recording it too, they're still together. The important thing though, is the music. For Instance: Picking Up After You....
"The Roses are Dead and the Violets are too
And I'm sick and tired of picking up after you"
Broken Bicycles, Old Boyfriends (They Look you up when they're in town. To see if they can still burn you down), I Beg Your Pardon.....great songs, great poetry, great instrumentation, all moody and attitudey with horns and pianos that sound like they're coming from an empty nightclub while an old guy sweeps up.. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Something Wild for Soundtrack week.

From it's opening credits where the camera is skimming across the water, closing in on Manhattan featuring David Byrne singing Loca De Amor with Celia Cruz, this movie is a fun ride. The cool thing about Jonathan Demme is that he knows his music and his soundtracks always make his movies extremely memorable. Throw in Ray Liotta, early in his career, as an amoral con man and how can you possibly go wrong? Literally every track on the soundtrack is good. It features Oingo Boingo, the Fine Young Cannibals, UB40, New Order, Jimmy Cliff, Sonny Okossum and a bonus cool rap of "Wild Thing" over the closing credits by Sister Carol. The album art is also cool with Mexican Folk Art on the backside. Something Wild appeals to the bad girl in all of us.  

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Soundtrack Week continues with Ry Cooder- Paris, Texas

Ry Cooder is a musician's musician, a student of music if you will. He can play damn near anything too. His revival of Cuban music in the Buena Vista Social Club brought the world's attention back to a sound that had been all but forgotten outside of Cuba. Ry's spent a lifetime exploring the musical stylings of world musicians around the globe and he does it all with the enthusiasm of a kid. My favorite sound, when it comes to Ry is that lonely haunted guitar style that he's famous for and my favorite LP featuring a heaping helping of it is the soundtrack to Paris, Texas. It conjures a deserted Texas highway and broken down old gas stations and highway signs shot through with bullet holes. I listen to it when I'm city weary and claustrophobic. This LP wears well. I never tire of it and I've heard it a lot....a LOT.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mark Knopfler- Local Hero (1983)

I have a wee soft spot for Celtic music but, like the blues, I can only do real celtic for about a half  an hour before developing a celtic headache. I call this soundtrack "Celtic Light". It's nothing like the Pogues or the Dropkick Murphys, rather it has a dreamy sweet quality to it with just a dollop of celtic in the background. Knopfler's guitar playing is stellar as usual but he practices tasteful restraint on the soundtrack. I love to lose myself in it.  Sometimes I imagine myself driving along the Irish coastline in a sportscar but then a car comes out of nowhere and smashes into me because I'm driving on the wrong side of the road and I fall over the cliff and into the ocean crashing below. Then I get up to turn the record over.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hey, Guess WHAT?? IT's soundtrack week

 I humbly present my first submission to soundtrack week (Yes, I know it's Tuesday. Traditionally, soundtrack week runs Tuesday to Tuesday. I don't know why. I do as I'm told by the Vinyl King and Queen, whom I've never met and only know through E-mail but they don't seem to take much bullshit. "The Mission" by Ennio Morriconne (The King Of soundtracks BTW and also probably doesn't take much bullshit)..yes, the Mission: flat out gorgeous. I can't say enough about this soundtrack. I'll say a few things: It's artful, it's thought provoking. It's performed by the London Philharmonic, It was nominated for an Academy Award. Some people who know their shit call this the best soundtrack score ever written. Well, I won't argue with that. I also happen to love Oboes (who doesn't?) the most feminine of the reed instruments and featured strongly in the Mission. I can't recommend this LP enough. Get it now and listen to it till you weep. Oh, and not a bad movie either; Robert Deniro as a Jesuit priest dragging a big bag full of metal crap and rocks around like he's Santa Claus? C'mon, it's totally worth it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tom Waits- Closing Time

Yes, Closing Time, Tom Waits first album, is essential to most vinyl collections but if you don't have it, you can now buy it on 180 gram vinyl, hey, even if you do have it, it's worth it, about thirty bucks. I think I have every word mumbled, sung, uttered, or moaned by Tom, who is, if you ask me, the best storyteller ever. This album features the all too often covered '0l 55 (stop it already), Grapefruit Moon, I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You, Closing Time, and lots of other great tunes, each of them a story in itself. Don't play this at birthday parties, it inspires shoe-gazing and the selling of all ones worldly goods in order to hit the road and find ones self. If you're looking for the original, you can buy it used at any Amoeba store for mere dollars, I know this because I just checked. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Sex Pistols- Holidays in The Sun-7" White Vinyl

Holiday fun awaits. For the next few days I'll be exploring some collectible vinyl items that were released especially for Christmas. Giddy-up,  We'll start with The Sex Pistols- Holidays In The Sun- Cool already, right? But wait, it's a limited edition 7" white vinyl picture sleeve...Awesome! The B-side is Satellite. Wrap this baby up and put it under the tree for someone you really love. You can order it from the UK. I got mine from the big guy in the Red suit.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

R.L Burnside- Come On In (Fat Possum Records '98)

R.L. Burnside pulled me in with his stripped down, raw, Mississippi blues style and his powerful  voice a few years ago and I've been a huge fan ever since. Like most Mississipi Bluesmen, R.L. travelled a long trail of broken dreams. He went from Mississippi to Chicago (where his father, his brother, and his uncle were murdered, creating a bottomless pool of material for his blues) and back again where he murdered a guy and did some time. R.L. died in 2005.  Fat Possum records can be credited with keeping the music of old Mississippi bluesmen like Burnside and Model T Ford alive and now they're re-releasing it on vinyl. It's Bad You Know is the best track by far but I also love Let My Baby Ride. The whole record makes you want to disappear into a writhing voodoo trance and dance around the room. Nice Holiday gift for your loved ones.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rod Stewart- Never a Dull Moment

Rod Stewart used to be something else. If you want to hear what it was, go get this record and drop the needle on ANGEL and you're guaranteed to fall in love with that guy. I never listen to this song just once. Six or seven times and I'm just getting warmed up. Sure, it's Jimi Hendrix's song but he's in a different stratosphere and we'll get there real soon. Moving on, You Wear It Well is just classic rock at it's very best. People simply don't do songs like that anymore. Why in the bleeding hell not???? What's happened???? Mama, You've Been On My Mind is just about perfect. This is really the only Rod Stewart Record I listen to regularly. I love Maggie May on Every Picture Tells A Story but song by song, Never A Dull Moment (1972) is a winner. I found this one at a garage sale, great condition...two bucks. Two bucks!!!! 
Have you seen who's up for Grammy's this year? NO ONE worth listening to. I think Robert Plant and Allison Krauss got a nomination even though the album is a 2007 release. Great though, One piece of listen-able music in the whole lot...pathetic.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Billie Holiday-Stormy Blues

I'm not going to get into some long, drawn out, tragic story here. We all know it. Billie led a tragic life and it ended all too soon and, because of that, whenever I have a day like the one I'm having, (relax, I won't get into that either) I dig out some Billie, slap it on the turntable and, within moments, she seems to be saying "I know." Billie is about the best damn music to play when: It rains, life sucks, your calls are not getting returned, you haven't slept in three days, someone's done you wrong, you're suffering from massive PMS and the midol just isn't cutting it or you just want to look out the window and feel sorry for yourself for awhile. This particular album is probably one of my favorites. It features Me, Myself , and I, Say It Isn't So, Travellin ' All Alone and a wonderfully playful version of Let's Call The Whole Thing Off. I got this one at Village Music in Mill Valley when I was thirteen (gone now, sigh).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Rolling Stones- Sticky Fingers

I'm not a rabid Rolling Stones fan, let's just get that out of the way, but Sticky Fingers has always struck me as the rootsiest of the Stones albums and by rootsiest, I mean bluesiest because roots music was borne of the blues. Was it Townes Van Zandt who said "There's only two kinds of music: Blues and zippity-doo-da"? "Wild Horses" might be just about the best damn song ever written and even though it's been performed to absolute death, It still brings me to my knees. "Bring Me Dead Flowers" is my next best on this one, ditto on the performing, everyone's done it but it continues to wear well. I own the original "zipper" version of this album. Don't quite remember where I found it but it is a hell of a cover (conceived by Andy Warhol). I also own the Spanish Edition with the sticky fingers emerging from a can of treacle. Nice. You can get the zipper cover on E-Bay for about twenty bucks but good luck finding the Spanish Edition.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros- Global a Go-go

I love the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Who doesn't? but Joe Strummer followed up that reckless chapter of his life with something much more refined. He explored his interest in world music and African percussion through the three albums he made with the Mescaleros, most of whom were multi-instrumentalists. "Global a Go-go" (Hellcat 2001) is my favorite of the three. The first time I heard Johnny Appleseed, I was totally blown away and then I gave the lyrics a good listen and I realized that he was talking about the bees, as in honey bees. I wonder how he knew back then that the bees were in trouble (
The title track includes vocals by Joe's long-time friend Roger Daltrey and it's rumored that Pete Townsend plays on it but no one's confirming that. Bhindi Bhagee is a ton of fun too, meant to reflect the ethnic diversity of London. Joe was always speaking out for the little guy, the working class, the invisible poor. He died in 2002. The music world and the world misses him. This album is medium easy to find on vinyl. If you don't own it, put it on your wish list. I got mine at the Ashby Flea market in Berkeley.