Specials and Amy Winehouse

Live in 2009. The music is good, but do the Specials seem like a multiracial band? And is Amy really a part of all this?

I like the music, I love the song Ghost Town, and I’ve become a huge Winehouse fan. She is amazing. But there was a missed opportunity here (and it was a bit odd just how the crowd was). Not blaming the band, but wasn’t the goal a more integrated following?

Songs that immediately clicked

That’s what Lawr posted about. I’m with him on Locomotion. Here’s his post about songs that grabbed him immediately. That’s a great idea, and I’m with him on Complete Control, maybe the greatest of the great Clash’s cuts.

I think he’s out of his mind on the Peter Gabriel, but that isn’t my call. What is my call is this is No. 1, without a doubt. Changed my life. Really.

But the Beatles were huger.

 

Buck Owens, Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass

1) This is my favorite Buck Owens.

2) Kick-ass fuzz guitar.

3) Kick-ass harpsichord.

4) Kick-ass three-quarter time.

5) The singer from Workin’ Class (best country cover band in Chicago when I worked for STATS, Inc. in the 1990s) and I used to discuss whether this was just Buck’s nice way of saying, “who’s gonna kiss your ass?” What do you think?

6) There’s a really lame live Hee Haw version on youtube with an accompanying awful video which is the perfect example of the buffoonery Buck Owens was subject to in the 1960s. There’s also a pretty good cover version by the Derailers with an accompanying pretty cool video, but it’s not as good as the original, which I give you now:

Buck Owens, Waitin’ On Your Welfare Line

I tried to write about this song as politics, because clearly Buck’s perspective on the benefits and costs of welfare in 1966 were courtly and open-armed. At least until he got a hug in and a kiss. But clearly Buck’s metaphor is romantic, not political, and it better serves this funny novelty to remind us that there was a time, say 1966, when the basic idea of government services providing a safety net and a leg up were not seen as some sort of political litmus test. Even if he’s driving a Cadillac.

I don’t think the general population disagrees with this any more than they did back then, but the schism is much more sharp today.

In any case, back in those simpler times a crazy extended metaphor could spend ten weeks at No. 1, and Big Government looked a lot like busted love.

Nick Lowe on Elvis Costello’s TV Show

Here’s a clip from something I’m amazed by. Elvis Costello hosted a TV show for a couple of years, and it is really good.

Nick Lowe shows up and sings his song the Beast in Me, which is pretty powerful. But the conversation matters, too. Like, what does it cost (or gain) a bass player to sing lead? Here’s an answer.

You Really Got Me: The Locomotion, Little Eva

Of course, once again I was in the car, driving to the links, when the Locomotion came on my shuffle.

I can write a lot about the song, How it nailed me (as documented) at family camp. How it is just a killer Goffin/King song with that monster sax grooving with the machine gun snare to start, and then drive the song.

But, when I was listening the other day I thought “man, I first heard this song in 1962 and it still sounds as good to me today as it did then.”

So, I started thinking about other  songs like that, and the Kinks, You Really Got Me was the first to pop into my head and that seemed an apropos title for a new category of fun.

The parms are just that: a song that nailed you first time and always, but, the caveat is that you have to remember distinctly where you first heard it.

So, here are six of mine in no particular order (and, though both You Really Got Me and the Locomotion match the category, I went to other songs for my list):

Drug Test, Yo La Tengo: I read about Yo La Tengo for the first time in the Utne Reader as their critic, I think named Jay Waljasper, waxed on for a couple of albums worth about how great this band I never had heard of was. So, kind of like Steve went to see Baby Driver to prove to himself it was lousy, I bought President Yo La Tengo/New Wave Hot Dog to prove to myself that the Tengo were nothing. This was 1998, and the opening track, Banaby Hardly Working was ok, but the second cut, Drug Test came smoking out of the car stereo and it remains an all-time favorite song. Needless to say, Waljasper was right: I own seven of the bands discs and have seen them three times.

Please Please Me, The Beatles: My family all lived in London and my cousin Eve sent us a copy of Please Please Me on Parlaphone records in 1963 and it completely knocked my socks off. I remember putting on our little Philco phonograph, and that we didn’t need to use the little center spindle thing for 45 rpm singles because British singles did not have that gaping hole in the middle. The couplet “It’s so hard to reason, I do all the pleasin’ with you…” still stands as one of my all time favorites.

Holidays in the Sun, The Sex Pistols: I had heard of Johnny and the Sex Pistols, as they were referred to in the San Francisco Chronicle and was dubious. But, in October of 1977 I went to London for the first time to meet my cousins and travel some. I was taking a bath in my grandmother’s house which was a 150-year old Victorian, listening to Top of the Pops on my aunt’s funky transistor which was on the floor and pow, the #1 song of the week blew me away.

Borrow Your Cape, Bobby Bare, Jr: I hit pay-dirt with an Amazon order around 2007 when I bought my niece Lindsay a couple of discs from Amazon for her birthday. At the bottom of the page was one of those, “people who liked this, liked that” and The Longest Meow by Bobby Bare, Jr and his Starving Criminal Brigade was the disc. “What the fuck?” I thought to myself and I bought it (a lot of four and five star reviews on Amazon) and man is it a killer album. And, Borrow Your Cape is my fave. The Biletones even covered it for a while.

Complete Control, The Clash: I was totally caught up with the punks and saw every band I could in the process, including the Pistols final performance at Winterland, and the Clash four times. I was going to sleep, though, shortly after my return from my European trip of ’77, smoking a doobie when Complete Control came on during Richard Gosset’s evening show on KSAN. By the time the second solo began I was totally lost in it. Still am.

Modern Love, Peter Gabriel: I was standing in Odyssey Records on the Ave in Berkeley in late 1977 when Gabriel’s first album came out, and the crew at the record store put the album on. So, as I was browsing Modern Love and Solsbury Hill came on and I bought the album without having ever heard any of the rest. I still love Modern Love.

Galaxie 500, “Blue Thunder”

Again, Spotify drops a band and album on me I never heard of. This one came up on my “Discover Weekly” playlist, and I looked the guys up on Wiki and it seems there is some relationship between the band and The Reverend Horton Heat, but I could not track it down.

Galaxie 500, named wonderfully for the car, released this song and album (On Fire) in 1989 and it is sort of sweet melancholy and haunts in the same way Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark–which I call music to slit my wrists too and is go-to when I am sad–does.

I guess Blue Thunder is in a minor key because that does seem to help but man, I cannot pinpoint, and the song and album just get to me. I am not even sure of the words in this one as the mix is thick and the words sort of mumbled/slurred, but shit, I do like it a lot.