I’ve been listening to the Holy Modal Rounders, a band that is known for first using the word psychedelic in a song (!) and then became a big part of the Fugs for a while. So, the Rounders, East Village folkies with political and bluegrass roots, with a yen for spiritual awakening on many levels, and an antic sense of humor. A droll one, too. Also a love for songwriting and old timey music and new timey takes on old timey ways.
Which doesn’t describe Boobs A Lot, a novelty song they wrote for the Fugs. The Fugs version is fun, a call and response thing. The Rounders version came out on their fifth album, Good Taste is Timeless, in 1971. As a college boy in Southern California in the mid 70s I discovered it as a staple on the Dr. Demento radio show on Sunday nights.
What I remembered of the song was its delightful glee, but what I heard tonight was some pretty cool rocking, growing a solid Bo Diddley riff in a pretty clever way. A novelty song, sure, but a fun listen to for the music, too. At the end of the day, a rock song with novelty lyrics.
So, to make this a shaggy dog story, when the Rounders album finished (I was making dinner), I for some reason thought about the Pink Faeries, a band I learned about five years ago. They were British psychedelic rockers from the early 70s, they grew out of a band called the Deviants that I haven’t looked up, but they then made some records that are uniformly excellent. Not because they’re polished, but because whether they’re covering Chuck Berry tunes or offering their originals, they have an inexhaustible drive (two drummers) and weaving guitars (two lead guitars) and the chops to make propulsive memorable rock.
This is rock that managed in its time to bridge the Allman Brothers and the punk scene that was soon to come. Check out my previous posts for Pink Fairies (that was my spelling then) for some choice cuts, but today let’s admire Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout, from 1971 as well, which is a heavy metal tune that morphs into an exemplary jam band tune without apology. Before heavy metal and jam bands were a thing. And back again on this live track from the John Peel show.
For me a big question is how much had Pink Fairies heard the Allman Brothers at this point. The Allmans were first. Part of this song leans heavily toward Morning Dew and Elizabeth Reed. And the double drummers compound the point. None of which is a bad thing, no matter who came first.
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.
Laughner was a member of Rocket From the Tomb and Pere Ubu, influential, more heard of than heard bands from Cleveland. He said he wanted to be to Cleveland what Brian Wilson was to LA and Lou Reed was to New York, but instead died in 1977 at age 26 mission unfulfilled.
A record company called Smog Veil has just released a five-LP box set of all known Laughner recordings, mostly self recorded in the late night by himself. The NY Times has a story about the release today.
While you read it, here’s Ain’t It Fun! Laughner’s hit, which was later covered by Pere Ubu (if that’s a cover), the Dead Boys and Guns and Roses.
Gene named me in the 10 most influential elpees in 10 days challenge on Facebook. My Day 1 choice was Cream’s Disraeli Gears, which was in no way obscure but did feel like my music, rather than pop music everyone liked that I liked too, like the Beatles, Stones and the Who. I thought I’d post a song from each of my albums over here, just for fun.
This one was a Clapton song rewritten by producer Felix Pappalardi and his wife Gail. It’s the lead song on Disraeli Gears and seems like the epitome of the band’s psychedelic blues.
This one is from 1991. Van Morrison is no remnant, he’s been a giant star for a long time. But he’s also a working musician, a scrappy one who has not bent his vision to match the future, as such. He records new stuff, he tours, he has looked like a heart attack waiting to happen for 40 years, but luckily for us he’s survived and visited us with his Celtic rhythm and blues-y jazzbo stylings regularly.
I’m not going to vouch for all of it. There’s too much to listen to, for one thing, but the album this is from, Hymns to the Silence, his 21st long player, seems to me brilliant all the way through, a mixture of personal animus and griping and soulful stylings and professions of faith, with a tight band and not a little bit of nostalgia for things before they’d been debased.
I don’t agree with that last point entirely, but I like the music it pushed Van Morrison to on this record.
Aretha Franklin died last year. A movie shot in 1972 with some tech problems and edited to everyone’s satisfaction but her’s in 2015, was shelved in 2015 for reasons never explained. The movie wasn’t released until she passed.
Now it’s out. I guess there could be questions about that, about Aretha’s preferences, she’s the star, but the fact is that the movie made from these oddly stranded film clips from 47 years ago, film shot on 16mm supposedly for network TV, is awesome.
Mainly because of Aretha’s performance, which is mind-boggling, but also because of the view our filmmakers got of life inside a Black church in LA in that moment when one of pop’s biggest stars went back to her origins. Sort of, but plenty enough.
The vibe is powerful. It counts for a lot. This supposed network special is anything but what you might expect. It is raw, real, awkward, and totally winning, thanks to the collective spirit of the choir, the church and especially Aretha, who seems unhappy every moment she isn’t singing, which then seems unimportant every moment she sings.
In 1967 I turned 11, and my aunt Dottie’s present was a copy of The Rolling Stones Between the Buttons.
It may be my greatest present ever, though I’m sure that’s a reckless statement. I’ve been gifted a lot, thank you totally.
The thing about Between the Buttons is it is not a Rolling Stones blues record. Though the blues are played, for sure. I’m terrible at these historical things, but the record seems to represent the apotheosis of Brian Jones. His influence is everywhere, and the music benefits from odd instrumentation and challenging harmonies.
It’s not like the 12×5 Stones were underachievers, but in many ways the Between the Buttons cuts are wilder and more creative than the more extravagant Beatles experiments at the same time. The Stones didn’t ever, I think, get totally absurd in their posture (even considering Gomper), while the Beatles got pretty mental in their days. In any case, Between the Buttons is an album of pop songs, some influenced by psychedelic experiences and styles of the time.
When I decided to write about this I had an “neglected elpee” angle, but everybody gives it five stars. Everyone considers Between the Button a masterpiece. So what I have to share are some clips, in case you didn’t know about masterpiece it is (it wasn’t really conceived as an album).
My two cents. These Stones are Brian Jones Stones. This is incredible music, orchestration, songs. The Stones went from great bluesimitators to pop meisters like the Beatles and the Kinks. Brian Jones was in charge of that.
We always think of Jagger and Richard, but this was a band that was led by Brian Jones, in the first part, and Mick Taylor in the classic part. And when Ron Wood came in the live magic didn’t end, but the songwriting and arrangements did.
Between the Buttons may be the high mark of the Brian Jones era. It’s a high mark indeed.
The story I remember is that Patti Smith was recording in the same studio as Bruce Springsteen, she heard this song and put out her own version. Without approval, just hijacked it.
I’ve read Bruce’s autobiography and Patti Smith’s books and I don’t know what the truth is. Maybe I knew once, but now, I like my memory. What I do know is that this is one of the Boss’s best songs. And one of Patti’s best songs. It has become a collaboration.
So, today I was listening to the Screaming Females, a New Jersey band who have made seven albums. I don’t know that much about them, but as a rock band they’re pushing a big rock up a steep hill.
And I stumbled upon their collaboration with 90’s indie band Garbage on a cover of the Boss’s song.
It’s still a good song, but I don’t know. This makes me want to hear Patti and her group.