Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ian Hunter and Mott- Beautiful losers never die

It's tough to be a classic rock fan and not have a soft spot for Mott the Hoople fan. It's not just because 1973's Mott gets (well deserved) 5-star reviews all over the place or that '72's "All the Young Dudes" is a long-time FM staple that also gets recycled for movie soundtracks. It also helps that despite "Dudes" has the Bowie connection (it's his tune after all and he produced it too). But alas, the group was never able to ride it through to a long and prosperous career, collapsing when singer/leader Ian Hunter left two years later (though the band tried to carry on without him). So they entered the pantheons of great 'should-have-beens' despite such great successes and promise.

In the CD age, there were a few good collections of Mott material but little of Hunter's solo years, which yielded some gems also. That is until now. Shout Factory's Old Records Never Die is a fine round-up of not just Mott material but also Hunter's career, including highlights like "Once Bitten Twice Shy," "Cleveland Rocks" (which you might know from the Drew Carey Show), "Just Another Night," the touching title track and my personal favorite, the campy, hilarious "Justice of the Peace." It even includes a cut from his recent, under-rated solo record Shrunken Heads (the sweet "Words (Big Mouth)" is a nice touch but where's the R.E.M. hyper-power-pop of "Brainwashed"?). As such, it makes a strong case for Hunter's own records as it does for Mott's, which is only fair since the guy was the heart and/or soul of the group (Bad Company's Mick Ralphs notwithstanding). It also rights a great injustice since there's been f-ck all in terms of decent Hunter compilations available.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Beatbox Fame Game- cookin' with beats

Hilarious, imaginative video here, even if you're not a techno fan. Just watch it and see...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

War- what music is it good for?

As much as I loved Tropic Thunder, I also thought that as far as Ben Stiller went to spoof Vietnam movies, he didn't go far enough with the music. I'm guessing that to give the movie some connection to other Nam pictures, he used the mid/late 60's classic rock standards that usually make these kind of soundtrack: "Gimme Some Lovin'," "Run Through the Jungle" (technically from '70), "Sympathy For the Devil," etc.. The obvious idea is to match the music with the time period finding particularly upbeat rock standards or deep brooding tunes to fill that role.

But if Stiller really wanted to spoof Nam movies, he would have included some well-known songs from the time period that weren't exactly appropriate. Of course, that might have been a little too esoteric for anyone who wasn't a boomer or music nut but the contrast would have still been pretty funny.

In that spirit, imagine if you will, these chart-topping songs coming up in jungle and battle sequences. Adrenaline pumping or mysterious and spooky they ain't and that's the point. And yet, they are the forsaken hit parade, absent from these war flicks.

The New Vaudeville Band "Winchester Cathedral"
The Seekers "Georgy Girl"
Nancy and Frank Sinatra "Something Stupid"
Frankie Valli "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"
The Monkees "Daydream Believer"
John Fred & His Playboy Band "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)"
The Lemon Pipers "Green Tambourine"
Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra "Love is Blue"
1910 Fruitgum Co. "Simon Says"
Union Gap "Young Girl"
Bobby Goldsboro "Honey"
BJ Thomas "Hooked on A Feeling"
The Foundations "Build Me Up Buttercup"
Tommy Roe "Dizzy"
Henry Mancini and his Orchestra "Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet"
Oliver "Good Morning Starshine"
The Archies "Sugar Sugar"

Too poppy or too ballad-y I guess but I have to admit that I have a weak spot for a few of these (definitely not "Honey" and "Young Girl" though). Some of 'em could be used for irony at least, right?

If you can think of any other good ones from the late 60's that should be on this list, feel free to post 'em here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Goldmund- blissful ambience

Keith Kenniff is one of those rare artists who can provide true peaceful relaxing music without sounding empty and shallow. Though he's also put out recordings as 'Helios' (see this charming Honda commercial he did the music for) on his new project Goldmund, he continues his making quality ambient music. On his third album as Goldmund, The Malady of Elegance, he evokes Eno as he can slyly conjure up imaginary places and also Harold Budd as he's able to take simple, soft piano tones and turn them into something rich and meaningful.

Monday, August 11, 2008

RIP Isaac Hayes

In March 2006, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hayes at SXSW for the Stax anniversary/revue that was being put together with Booker T. and the MG's, William Bell and Eddie Floyd. He had already suffered a stroke then so he was a little weakened but he still had a lot of enthusiasm for his music. I asked him what he thought the difference was between Motown and Stax. "Well, I like to quote Rufus Thomas about that," he said. "If you're South of the Mason-Dixon line, then your ass is mine!"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Gene Vincent rocks Belgium

The year was 1963, just as a Liverpool quartet were set to take over the world and one of their heroes was still going strong, having just moved to the UK. Vincent toured with a raucous French quartet called the Sunlights. Here's two highlights of a show they did in Belgium. Note that Vincent comes out on crutches (the result of a 1960 UK car crash that killed Eddie Cochran) and quickly kicks 'em away. Even with his limited mobility, Vincent still projects authority and the band ain't exactly napping as they occasionally roll around the stage. It makes you wish you could have seen the rest of the show.

For the end of the first clip and the intro to the 2nd clip, my French is too rusty to tell you what they're saying. Can anyone out there translate some of this? It's also pretty cute when Vincent tells the crowd "merci beaucoup" at the end of the 2nd clip.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Steve Reich double-header

Two videos posted on U-Tube last year, both showing incredible performances of Reich's work.

"Peter Aidu plays Steve Reich's "Piano Phase" with an absolutely unique technique: with a left hand on one instrument and the right hand on the second piano - he alone performs the score for two pianists"

"a solo performance of Steve Reich's Piano Phase/Video Phase for live performer and super imposed video projection" (I believe this was done at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hairspray Mashup

Hold it now... hit it! It turns out Harry Allen's Hairspray mash-up is alive.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Harry Allen- believe the blog

It's gratifying to find that one of your favorite writers is blogging. That means that not only do you get to sop up their wisdom through their articles or columns but they also have a regular place online which is a repository of their thoughts. That's how I felt when I found that media assassin Harry Allen (yes, the guy who has the cameo on Public Enemy's "Don't Believe the Hype") now started a blog earlier this year. Sad to say, his Hairspray remix was taken down from YouTube but you can still see posts like "Is Incest the New Black?" and "Fine Tuning the Racial Conflict."

In addition to an upcoming book on design that he's working on, you can also hear him on his weekly radio show, NONFICTION, on New York's WBAI-NY/99.5 FM, Fridays, 2-3 pm EST, where he is known to "cover the arts, science, biography, politics, typically in a Q&A format."