The Clash, Armagideon Time

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 Selecter, Everyday

I found myself quoting this song to my internet service provider today. Bye bye Spectrum.

Which reminds me that this is a cover. The Pioneers version is great, but a little different. Maybe that’s the change of islands.

On YouTube there are also versions of the song by George Acard and George Dekkard that seem to be the Pioneers version. Can’t have too much of a good thing.

And little enough of crappy Spectrum internet.

Ps. The Selecter version of the tune is credited to Petty Harding, and is called Everyday, while the Pioneers much earlier version is called Time Hard.

Is it coincidence that Petty Hardin are the songwriters of Buddy Holly’s much different classic tune Everyday?

What is weird is that in the Wikipedia page’s exhaustive list of Pioneers singles, Time Hard isn’t listed.

But in a footnote the Selecter are credited with covering Time Hard as Everyday.

All Music credits the song to Composed by George Agard / Jackie Robinson / Sydney Crooks

In the UK the song was credited to George Dekker, the band’s lead singer.

What a mess. I suspect some royalties are owed somewhere. Or everywhere.

Tom Petty Has Died.

This was the first song most of us heard by Tom Petty, I’m pretty confident to say. At least those who were alive when that record, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers came out. Some of us were confused, there was another band called the Heartbreakers out there already, playing around the neighborhood. But LAMF, that band’s first album, didn’t come out until late in 1977. Tom Petty’s band’s first eponymous elpee dropped in February, and with it this amazing song that seemed to meld southern rock, LA country and NY punk into a perfect song.

Petty turned out be a giant star who had at least a bit of the heart of a remnant. He kept playing with his high school band, all through his life, and he genuinely seemed to enjoy the whole process, the writing and performing and being a star while also being himself. He wrote and sang and performed everywhere since those early days, and has had scores of hits and a ton of fame, but this is the song that comes to me first and foremost when I hear something awful, like I did today.

Hiss Golden Messenger

I wish I could limit this to a song. Or a video. But the fact is that this is a fantastic band. Maybe the best I’ve ever heard. They’re that good. (Okay, this is overstatement, but I hope it got your attention.)

The problem is that they play classic rock, or classic country rock. This is a style of music that is so overplayed, so worn out, that you would think that creating new songs and sounds in the style would be impossible. But somehow Hiss Golden Messenger makes these old sounds sound fresh. The arrangements are fantastic. The songs are very good.

I find this confounding. Listening I hear Delaney and Bonnie meeting mellow Clapton, with some Allmans and Van Morrison, vocals by Steve Earle, a track here is a little like Dylan, that one is a little like the Band, but none of them ripoffs or lazily derivative. They use the phonemes of classic country rock and create a dream team. That is what this band does, on every cut, of the two albums I’ve listened to.

So, here are a few songs for your delectation. Rave on. These aren’t punk gods, like Hans Condor. They’re not innovators, but they’re not nostalgists either. They inhabit their music in a way that only the very best do. They are regular musicians trying to find a pay day. But I think you’re going to like what they do.

Are We Not Men? Pick Your Favorite Song from Devo’s Debut.

For some reason I’ve been thinking about Devo lately. Not in any profound way, just thinking about listening when I got a chance. I got a chance today while making dinner. On goes Are We Not Men? We are Devo, which starts with the brilliant Uncontrollable Urge, moves onto (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, which I owned on 7″ long before the elpee came out, and then goes all over the freaking place. And I do mean freaking.

Remembering, at the time, I grouped the band with the Talking Heads, who had a similar angular geeky-ness, and the Tubes, who had an over the top theatricality. When I listen now I hear mostly classic rock moves, filtered through a novel lens, a lens which made it both surprising the band existed and that they then made hits with mainstream success and surprising that we didn’t see just how inevitable that was on first listen.

I think what I mean is, we knew weird. We loved Zappa, dug Alice Cooper, admired Captain Beefheart, but each of those personalities carved out his own space on the edges of taste and sensibility. They had some pop exposure, but they were happy to exist as novelties.

Devo carved out that space, then tried to bring the whole dang world into it. They were weird, uncompromising, and ambitiously popular, not content to reside on the sidelines with the other freaks. That was cool.

So, while listening to their first elpee tonight, I was struck by how strong the songs are. How little there is that is thrown away. Maybe none of it. And as I went from song to song I said to myself, That’s a great tune. Then, Oh, that’s a good one. Oooh, love it. Which got me thinking that maybe we all have different favorite songs from Are We Not Men? We Are Devo.

I’m laying claim to Mongoloid. It was the first Devo song I heard, it is the one I know all the words to and compulsively sing along to, but I’m pretty sure there are strong cases for others. What’s your favorite song on Devo’s first album?

 

Lester Bangs and the Delinquents, “I Just Want to Be a Movie Star”

Facebook friend Darren Viola posted some Christgau clips of 1977 live show previews of the B-52s and Fleshtones shows at Max’s, which are fun, but down in the comments was a link to this tune from 1980.

I didn’t know this one, which is great fun.

Listening to the whole album. Good!