Nice NY Times story about denizenz of the Max’s and CB’s scenes now playing out around town like time never stopped. Their apparent motto: “If I’d have broken big maybe I’d be dead now.”
Biggest play goes to the Rousers, who have a pretty great sound.
Wayne Cochrane wrote and performed the song Last Kiss in 1961. It wasn’t a great hit. But it had legs. Here’s the original recording.
Cochrane is a character in John Capouya’s new book about Florida Soul, which is how I came upon the song.
The funny thing for me is that the original version of the song is catchy, but doesn’t get at the real moral position the young man is in as the Pearl Jam version, even though Cochrane was a preacher (a Florida preacher, but still). What Pearl Jam version?
I bought the Basement 5 album 1965-1980 unheard. Cool logo, promise of reggae-punk fusion, and I’m not sure what else. Did I know the drummer was in the Blockheads? I don’t think so, but maybe I did. Don Letts sang with the band at some point, but they weren’t Clash or PiL associated that I remember at the time. But who knows, it was a long time ago.
I stumbled across the artwork yesterday, remembered I owned the disk, then found that the elpee had been rereleased recently on vinyl by Rough Trade. And then I stumbled upon this Peel Session recording from 1980, which sounds a whole lot better than the album did. Or does.
I was talking about this at dinner last night at a friend’s house, the song immediately appears on our host’s Spotify over Sonos magnificent sound system from the elpee, and it sounds terrible.
Peel Session sounds great. Last White Christmas is a keeper. My attention has wavered on and off after that one. But for an obscure one-off from a long time ago, having one song worth listening to is pretty darn good.
There is good playing here, and a minimum of offensive show biz (while there is plenty of show biz). It feels amazing that this clip is from a Grammy Awards show, but who knows? The last time I watched one of those might have been in 1986. This is fun, musically, and larded with a ton of contextual social stuff that someone else might like to unpack.
For me, it is the playing and seeing these big stars live (on tape).
My daughter went to elementary school with a boy whose father writes for the Please Kill Me web site. I’ve only met Todd a couple of times, in passing, so he’s not my friend, but he wrote this weirdly cool history of Dave Alexander, who played bass on the first two Stooges albums and was then kicked out and died.
What I like about Todd’s treatment is he reports what people said or wrote about Dave. He goes easy on the dramatic build up and is beautifully empathic to the storytelling of Alexander’s peers by using their quotes. Plus he includes some choice descriptions of behavior by various Rolling Stones. This is classic rock storytelling, for sure, but easy going the way rock should be.
You can read, should read, Todd’s piece here.
You’ll get the chance to play the video of Down On the Street while you read the piece, but you might also play it now.
One last thought. How different is Down on the Street from some Doors songs? Especially live? Which provokes the question: When it comes to classifying rock, do we maybe distinguish too much between hitmakers and their edgier cooler peers? The Stooges are punk pioneers on Elektra records, sounding here like the Doors, who made many hits on Electra records at roughly the same time. That’s a sonic fact, but not a complete one. But what is the real story of sound, aesthetics, ambition and commercial viability? Every one thing changes all the others.
This is a reason to read Greil Marcus’s Doors book, which goes deep into the band’s non-hit life as a live band, how they sounded different than the hits, and darker than the public image.
At the Music Hall of Williamsburg, in my neck of the woods.
I was making dinner tonight. Sauteed green beans and broccoli rabe with a creamy lime dressing, and some shrimps. For some reason I put on Little Willie John, who I see has been referenced on the site only once. His biggest hit, a John Cooley/Otis Blackwell tune called Fever, is no remnant. But I think we’ve been neglecting a great singer who sang great songs.
Mr. John, as the Times would say (no they wouldn’t), was a hit making machine for a while, and like many hit making abusers of alcohol, he died in jail.
His brother wrote this song.
This is a terrific song. This is the version I hear when I think of the song.
This is great.
So is this. This is the blues.
Charming interview with LWJ’s sons and biographer. A story of Detroit.
After hearing this Clash cover and profound remix I bought the Willie Williams version. Williams has all the parts, but doesn’t have the whatever it is that makes the Clash version epic.
The Clash version is also not religious. And while the whole Clash excursion into the Third World is culturally suspect. To their credit, they seemed to know that. At least a little bit.
If pressed, I’d call this my favorite (most powerful) Clash song.
The provenance of this tune is a little muddy. And the more I listen to them I find other tunes by the same band that are a little better. But this tune is called U.S.A. and can serve as a righteous introduction.
Swedish punk in 2011.
But if you want them at their best, this is it.
I just came upon a rather amazing website called Every Noise at Once.
What this enterprising data project does is put every band/musician on Spotify on a map by genre. Click on the genre name and it plays a sample of the genre. Click on the little >> symbol next to the genre and it takes you to another map that has the names of all the bands.
Click on the band name and you’ll get a sample of their music. Click on the little >> symbol next to the band name and it will take you to a spotify playlist of their songs.
On the map, more techno music is up top, more organic is at the bottom. Denser music is to the left, while airier music is to the right. Generally, they say.
If there is a problem with this it’s that the music has to be on Spotify, which means the selections skew toward the contemporary, and I had a hard time finding old faves like Supershit 666 in the various Swedish maps, who aren’t on Spotify, but I also couldn’t find Hellacopters, who are. So the maps aren’t exhaustive. But on the other hand the real fun here is digging around and playing random clips. Which is where your free Spotify account comes in handy.