Music Notes November

November 18, 2008 at 12:19 am (Uncategorized)

Missed September. Missed October. Here’s November

1. The Beatles

I never liked the Beatles. Oh sure, the first real album I bought was 1962-66 (the Red album), but I never really dug them. Yeah, sure. Maybe it was a kind of elitism so I couldn’t like the most popular group in the world, or perhaps the whole punk “no Elvis, Beatles or the rolling Stones in 1977” ethos applied. Nevertheless. Thirty years on, I still find it difficult to say I like the Beatles, but I do kinda  like The White Album. A double album is often the place where self-indulgent tendencies flourish (and make no mistake, they are present on that one), but on the whole the record is surprisingly tight. Argh, does this make me a hypocrite?  Nah, I’m entitled to change my mind aren’t I? If you’re already a fan of this album, it’s probably worth seeking out up the September and October  issues of Mojo magazine. Along with a song by song account of the album, each issue features a complete CD of the record as recorded by other artists. It’s not always successful, they never are, but it’s definitely worth a listen. (The first CD is, like the album itself, better than the second)    

2. Like punk never happened?

By now, everyone has seen, or at least heard about, former Sex Pistols/Public Image Limited front man John Lydon’s decision to appear in a commercial for Country Lifebutter. The commercial is pretty funny, but it does make it seem as if seem that Malcolm was right. Probably a few years ago, I would have been more upset than I am now.  On the one hand, I suppose I should write something to the effect that this is a sell-out, and Lydon is prostituting himself, but them Lydon really isn’t pretending. He’s been pretty clear about the Sex Pistols tours that the real reason is money. (Mind you, they got to little of it when they were playing for real, I can’t really blame them too much). Nevertheless, there is a part of me that feels sad. Like many people my age, mid forties, I am going through a bit of a nostalgia phase for the music of 77, and I can’t but remember how dangerous, how electrifying it was. Was it all in vain ?

3. Le Tigre

I have to admit, years ago when I heard that Kathleen Hanna had formed an electronica group after years of fronting Bikini Kill, I had to wonder.  Don’t wonder, buy. Listen to Deceptacon and be converted. (go for the 12 minute remix!)

4.  Ben vs. Ian: 12XU?

From the department of WTF?  There’s a very cool cut-up going round on the web which puts Ben Kingsley in Ian Mackaye’s place in Minor Threat as they race through their theme song. I’m not entirely sure where it’s from or where Sir Ben is on stage, but he sure ain’t singing. You be the judge.

5. Sad Vacation 

Make no mistake Johnny Thunders was a cool guy. He dressed well, he had attitude to spare, he was a great guitar player, oh and he was a junkie. OK, the last part; not so cool. A part of the appeal of Thunders was people always wanted to be able to say, “Yeah, I was at his last show.” No doubt, his foolish glamourization of drugs led many to wasted lives. Still, the two New York Dolls albums,LAMF and his first solo album So Alonewere great rock n roll records. And Thunders spent much of his career living in their shadow. A lot of his output was sloppy and unworthy of his talent. I saw him play in Toronto in the late eighties, and while bits of the show were superb, there was also the part where when he saw an audience member smoking a joint, he refused to play until he was given some.

So it was a pleasant surprise to be able to get a copy of Copycats, the covers album Thunders recorded with Patti Pallidin formerly of Snatch. Essentially, the pair record classic tunes like Crawfish, Alligator Wine, Can’t Seem to Make you Mine etc.  Say what you like, he had talent.

  9. If Charlie Parker were a Gunslinger there would be a lot of Dead Copycats 

The title also is worth a visit to this photo blog. Some extremely cool pictures. There’s a shot of Joe Strummer with Robert DeNiro circa 1981 which I’d never seen. There’s also an amusing shot of Patti Smith (you’ll know when you find it). Not just music, but film and popular culture. Apparently updated daily. Easily possible to spend hours there.

10. Every Breath I Take

No, no not the creeepy-stalker Police song, Gene Pitney. Gene who? Oh man! If you re-read point #1 above, I confess to being a child of ’77, but like most people I liked a few other things too. Case in point. My mother had a “Golden Hour of Gene Pitney” LP, and something about it just sucked me him. Probably the voice, but there was something immeasurably cool about him. And this song, “Every breath I take” from it’s do-wop backing vocals, to the trembling vocal and the shimmering string section  is just amazing. The song is produced by Phil Spector who whatever his current state was one of those guys. A person who listened to a song and said, “yes, it’s good, but what if you did this..?” and suddenly, it’s brilliant. This one’s like that. Pitney wasn’t just a singer, he also wrote some brilliant songs including “He’s a Rebel” from the Crystals (actually with a Darlene Love vocal). Have a look at the You tube selection of videos and performances.

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