The Left Banke, Walk Away Renee

Singer Steve Martin Caro has passed. Read an obit.
I spent a couple of days in Miami back in the 70s with a friend, visiting a woman who said this song was written about her. I had my first Cuban sandwich that week, too. I’ve always wondered why it wasn’t the Lefte Banke? EDIT: This Wikipedia entry suggests my friend’s friend wasn’t being truthful. Or was mistaken.

Link: Contemporary Music Archive

There is this place in Soho, in New York City, that has more than three million vinyl records for reference by researchers and movie studios and whatever. Really.

They’re being priced out because it’s valuable space and old records aren’t returning the $ per square foot that’s possible. So, the Times wrote about this. Good, interesting story. But here’s the deal. Why is this massive collection housed in NYC, where rents are big. That’s legacy thinking. My advice, send the albums to Pennsylvania somewhere, or the Catskills, and have a smaller public facing NYC exhibition space to draw folks in.

Everything worthwhile doesn’t have to be huge. It just needs enough support to sustain. And since Mr. George built a little bit of his fortune on records, here’s a great one (though not rock):

Wendy James, London’s Brilliant

I wrote about Ellen Foley’s very excellent Spirit of St. Louis, an album of her boyfriend Mick Jones’s songs, some written with Joe Strummer. And most of it played by the Clash as her backing band. Some will disagree about the excellent part. Another odd collection is Wendy James’s debut elpee, Now Ain’t the Time for Your Tears, from 1993. James was the singer in a new wavey band called Transvision Vamp that I don’t really know. After that band broke up she somehow ended up recording a solo elpee with all the songs written by Elvis Costello, some with his then wife Cait O’Riordan. Like Spirit of St. Louis, this is odd music that veers from punky riffs, to rock, to artsy new wave, and like Spirit of St. Louis, I find it very captivating.

London’s Brilliant, like many of the songs, appears to be self-referential, a song for James to sing that also describes her place in the rock world at the time the record was made. It is one of those co-written by O’Riordan. And perhaps I should warn you that it totally cops (and admits to copping) the guitar riff of Clash City Rockers.

Melody Maker has an excellent profile of James on the record’s release, that touches on many of the issues. Seems like Costello never met her. She sent him a letter asking him to write one song.

The Cavemen, Night after Night

I think these guys are from New Zealand. What I know for sure is that on this elpee they’ve made great songs and arrangements that fuse the Beatles to the 13 Floor Elevators, and take most direction from the Dolls.

But to me, this doesn’t sound like homage, it sounds like joyful expression. Could I be wrong? Their earlier albums are rawer and less imaginative. But that isn’t the bar. This album isn’t about what it means, it’s about how great it sounds. And then, it means something. That’s punk we haven’t heard recently. I think.