Music Notes August 2009

August 31, 2009 at 8:46 pm (Uncategorized)

Under the wire: Musical happenings in August…

1. Superchunk – Leaves in the Gutter EP

It’s hard to believe that it’s been eight years since the last Superchunk album, but this little EP will make the years fade away. The EP has five songs (including both electric and acoustic versions of Learned to Surf), and sounds very much like classic Superchunk, without being dated. Lovely.  On September 15, Superchunk’s label Merge release Our Noise, an account of their history.

2. Ellie Greenwich

Imagine you’re a musician or songwriter. Someone says to you, “Have you written anything I might know?” Then imagine how they’ll feel when you say, “Oh, I don’t know, have you heard Leader of the Pack, Da Doo Run Run, River Deep Mountain High, Then He Kissed Me …I co-wrote them.” 

 Ellie Greenwich passed away August 26, 2009.  

3. Absolute Beginners

Based on the novel by Colin MacInnis, Absolute Beginners is Julian Temple’s first movie. Oh sure, he made a few other films, but this is the first real movie he made rather than a documentary or fictionalized account (E.g., The Great Rock and Roll Swindle)

Say kid, what’s  that you say: you want to see a musical set against the backdrop of the 1958 Notting Hill race riots. You want to see David Bowie faking an appalling American accent. You want to see Ray Davies doing…I don’t know what the hell Ray Davies is doing. You want to see contemporary music from the Style Council and Sade inserted into a period piece. This is for you.

It looked good on paper. Not so on the screen. (OK, Tenpole Tudor’s portrayal of a violent teddy boy is kinda funny).

4. Glastonbury (2006)

Ah, much better. Another Julian Temple film, but one that allows Temple’s observant eye full reign. The Glastonbury festival actually dates to the earth 20th century, but the first rock festival was held there in 1970. Since then, the festival has taken place more or less annually with a bewildering assortment of talent.

Temple’s film captures the madness, the chaos, the spirit and above all the music. Too unpleasant for me in person, but a very watchable experience.

 5. Willy De Ville

I don’t think I heard a Bruce Springsteen song until 1978 (it was probably ‘Candy’s Room’ from Darkness at the Edge of Town). I can’t remember when I first my first Southside Johnny song, but in the summer of 1977, Mink Deville’s ‘Spanish Stroll’ was a top twenty hit in Britain.

As far as I know, it was his only chart success in the UK. But he produced an enduring body of music.  Willy DeVille died of pancreatic cancer of August 6, 2009.

6. Eye Mind– Paul Drummond.

I like listening to them, but I’m sure glad I wasn’t in the 13th Floor Elevators. A madhouse of LSD, weird philisophy and great musci. Drummond’sbiography of the band has more details than you could ever want along with intereviews with all the principals. A great read.

7 . The Story of Crass – George Berger

When I was in high school in England, people had one of two designs on the back of their jacket: Crass or Rush. (I had Crass). And although I never saw the band, I did buy all their records. A noble effort was Crass. Don’t know about this book; I got an email about it from the nice people at PM Press. Probably worth a look.

8. The Damned at the BBC

22 fabulous hits from the Damned. Recorded between 1976 and 1984, this is a great introduction to the Damned. All the hits, and even with some dodgy sound quality on one of the sessions, it’s worth every penny.

9. Dean and Britta

Finally got around to picking up the Dean and Britta record Back Numbers. for me at least, it’s not as immediate as Luna or Galaxie 500, but it’s quiet and grows on you. Nice. Very nice.

10. Oasis divided

So Noel Gallagher has left Oasis. I wasn’t sure they were still a band. Yeah, they release a greatest hits package of their early stuff once in a while, but they’re a bit like the Stones now. Their early records are outstanding, but the later ones forgettable. Since Noel was the guitarist and main songwriter, does Oasis still exist?

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