Song of the Week – What a Bringdown, Cream

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Last Sunday, October 6th, the world said goodbye to drummer Ginger Baker.  To learn more about him, read the New York Times obituary or watch the Beware of Mr. Baker documentary.

The SotW MUST pay tribute to such an influential and wacky rock star.  My first thought was to select a song that featured one of Baker’s famous drum solos.  Maybe the live version of “Toad” from Cream’s Wheels of Fire, with its 13 minute blast of drums.  Nope, that’s a bit too much.  Maybe another long jam, Blind Faith’s “Do What You Like.”  This is another tour de force of stick work.  But, nah, that’s not it either (though I suggest you listen to both on your own).

Then it hit me!  Today’s SotW should be one of my favorite Cream deep cuts – “What a Bringdown”, written by Baker.

“… Bringdown” is a wild, psychedelic ride that uses unusual time signatures (5/4 to 3/4?) and has ‘60s style, surreally lysergic lyrics.  It also has some interesting and innovative sonics.  Felix Pappalardi (the “4th Cream member”) plays a violin bass.  Jack Bruce, who was ordinarily on bass, moves to keys.  Clapton layers guitars, including a spacey, high pitched wah-wah solo after the bridge and on the fade out.  Baker pounds away at his kit and also plays tubular bells (listen carefully at the end).  This all adds up to a recording that sounds more like early Jethro Tull than Cream.

“…Bringdown” was the last song on Cream’s last album – Goodbye (1969), making it an apropos way to acknowledge Baker’s passing.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Flash, Coloured Balls & Some Mutts, Amyl and the Sniffers

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

In the decade from the mid-‘60s to mid-‘70s, there was a thriving youth subculture in Melbourne Australia called the Sharpies.  The Sharpies were a gang of hooligans whose culture was centered around raw guitar music and their own style in dance (sharp elbows), dress (chisel toed shoes, jeans, tight-fitting cardigans) and haircuts – let’s say they were punks with mullets.  But if a picture is worth a thousand words, watch this and you’ll get it.

Perhaps the most important band to the Sharpies was Coloured Balls, led by guitarist Lobby Loyde.  Coloured Balls were known for playing the loud and aggressive music that was favored by the Sharpies.

Coloured Balls were influenced by the MC5 and Flamin’ Groovies but you can also draw a straight line to their influence on AC/DC.

A contemporary band out of Australia is Amyl and the Sniffers.  Led by singer Amy Louise (Amyl) Taylor, they have full adopted the Sharpie aesthetic.

So if you enjoy your music loud, fast and snotty, these bands are for you!

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Motel Blues, Loudon Wainwright III & Sitting in My Hotel, The Kinks

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

There are dozens of songs written by rock bands about life on the road.  To name a few…

“Load Out”                              Jackson Browne

“Torn and Frayed”                   Rolling Stones

“Movin’ On”                             Bad Company

“Travelin’ Band”                      Creedence Clearwater Revival

“We’re an American Band”      Grand Funk

I’m familiar with a couple of relatively obscure “road” songs that chronicle life on the road with a different tone.  They are more emotionally impactful and depressing – and that’s what I like about them.

The first is “Motel Blues” by Loudon Wainwright III.

In this town television shuts off at two
What can a lonely rock and roller do?
The bed’s so big and the sheets are clean
Your girlfriend said that you were 19
The styrofoam ice bucket’s full of ice
Come up to my motel room, treat me nice

And ends…

There’s a Bible in the drawer don’t be afraid
I’ll put up the sign to warn the cleanup maid
There’s lots of soap and lots of towels
Never mind those desk clerk’s scowls
I’ll buy you breakfast, they’ll think you’re my wife
Come up to my motel room, save my life

Another is “Sitting in My Hotel” by the Kinks.

If my friends could see me now, driving round just like a film star,
In a chauffeur driven jam jar, they would laugh.
They would all be saying that it’s not really me,
They would all be asking who I’m trying to be.
If my friends could see me now,
Looking out my hotel window,
Dressed in satin strides and two-tone daisy roots,
If my friends could see me now I know they would smile.

Sitting in my hotel, hiding from the dramas of this great big world,
Seven stories high, looking at the world go by-y.
Sitting in my hotel room, thinking about the countryside and sunny days in June.
Trying to hide the gloom, sitting in my hotel room.

For those of you not up on your British slang, daisy roots are boots.

Apparently, life on the road isn’t all fun and games and often result in loneliness and isolation.

Enjoy… until next week.

Name That Tune!

A few days ago Rolling Stone published a story about a song that appeared on the internet some years back and no one can figure out who recorded it, wrote it, or where it came from. It’s not a very good song, but it is kind of catchy, and suitably mysterious.
It was apparently recorded off a German radio show in the early 1980s.
It seems like there must be other music out there that is similarly unknown. Why did this one break out?

The Search for Nurse With Wound’s Favorite Bands

This is about a story in The Guardian. In 1979 an experimental/noise/art/industrial/krautrock band called Nurse With Wound put out their first album. The inner sleeve listed their favorite 291 bands. In the 90s that list became something of a challenge for fans of this sort of music to find, and some it was released on CD for the first time. Now, 40 years after it was originally released, Nurse with Wound is working with a record label trying to put together compilation sets with one track from each of those bands. This is their story, well worth reading if only for some of the band names. Here’s that album, which is everything haters of experimental music are likely to hate, but with some interesting sounds along the way.
The first volume of the compilation is out now.

What’s your favorite Beatle single.

Think about this now. Rank your top five. There were 22 it seems, in the UK. The Guardian has their own take. You can find it here. My favorite was Eight Days A Week, I own it, but it seems it wasn’t released in the UK. Reading the story I guess I understand the writer’s thinking, but he’s out of his mind. Here’s the My Sharonna of the birth of rock/pop music. No doubt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2rkW0Tu3H8

Song of the Week – Mr. Wendal, Arrested Development

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

President Trump was in California for fundraising this week, and couldn’t resist taking a swipe at the state’s homeless situation.  USA Today covered the story with the headline:

Blaming shelters and street sleeping, Donald Trump blasts California for homeless crisis

Now, I live in the San Francisco Bay area, so I’m well aware we have become the homeless capital of the world.  But we do our best to come up with effective policies to deal with this challenging situation; and treat the homeless population with dignity and respect.

This reminded me of the Arrested Development song “Mr. Wendal.”

This song was written in 1992 about the homeless condition but looks at it from an interesting perspective.  It calls on us to see the homeless as people we can learn from – that there is wisdom in choosing a lifestyle that isn’t concerned with materialistic trappings.

Mr. Wendal has freedom
A free that you and I think is dumb
Free to be without the worries of a quick to diss society
For Mr. Wendal’s a bum

Yeah, I know, that POV may be a tad naïve and oversimplified, but it comes from a genuine sense of kindness and understanding.  And those are things we can use a little more of today.

Arrested Development was one of the first rap groups to make it their mission to record music with positive messages.

Musically, the song uses a couple of cool samples to great effect.  The most obvious one comes from Steely Dan’s “Peg.”  The other is a vocal sample from “Sing a Simple Song” by Sly and the Family Stone.  Dig it!

Enjoy… until next week.