The last couple of years Diane and I have vacationed in New York, we have hit a couple of plays. Last year, The Book of Mormon and Larry David’s Fish in the Dark were it, and this year, I grabbed tickets to The Humans which had just moved to Broadway a month before our trip, and perfectly, the play won four Tonys including best play, actor, and actress, two nights before the tix I copped.
But, for the second show, I opted for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. There is no question how much I loved King’s songwriting, then with her (now late) husband Gerry Goffin. The Locomotion, Up on the Roof, Chains, and especially Will You Still Love Me, Tomorrow?–which is among my favorite songs ever–are all such great and timeless cuts. In fact, I wrote this obit when Goffin passed away a couple of years back.
But, last year, when Di and I were in NYC for the FSTA, as we walked up Broadway to Central Park, I noticed the Brill Building for the first time, so I stopped, and looked and took a photo of the front.
Somewhere, that shot was lost, but this year when we walked by I got another snap, and though I knew the bulk of the Brill Building story, the show brought out so much and so many great songs and just what amazing and productive songwriters like Lieber and Stoller, and Neil Sedaka, and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in addition to Goffin and King, and all of this orchestrated by Don Krischner.
One of the things that plagued Goffin and Mann, in particular, with the British invasion and new propensity for bands to write their own materiel was writing songs that were relevant, rather than just pop tunes that appealed to the generally superficial life of teenagers.
Goffin. who wrote the words, and King banged out this really great tune immortalized:
Bernie Worrell, the influential keyboard player first for Parliment/Funkadelic, and then the Talking Heads and various cool bands who were clear just how killer Worrell’s playing was, has passed away at age 72.
I was not only lucky enough to catch the Heads on the “Big Suit” tour when Worrell toured with the band, but I also actually saw Parliment at a Lollapalooza in 1994. And, they were unquestionably the best live band I ever saw.
Mind you, I have seen a lot of bands, and as a result a lot of killer sets and performances, but note for note, player for player, no band was as tight and energetic with such a full and powerful sound as George Clinton and his mates.
Check the band out doing Rumpofsteelskin with Bernie on keys, and let by Clinton and Bootsy. Peace out Brother Bernie…
I never seem to be able to watch the entire Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions all in one shot. The broadcasts, on HBO, usually run about four hours, and my body has a muscle memory chip to fall asleep anytime I watch TV for more than 90 minutes at a stretch.
I did catch the end, though, the other day, and there was a lovely induction speech for Lou Reed by Patti Smith, and then an equally lovely acceptance by Lori Anderson, and then the live tribute, which began with Beck leading the performance of Satellite of Love.
I must admit that though I love Reed and the song, that my first thoughts of the title go to the wonderful late 80’s-early 90’s TV show, Mystery Science Theater (MST). MST’s premise was a shlubby janitor (Joel Hodgson) gets zapped into space and is forced to watch crappy movies and the results can be registered. If you check the Wiki link, you will see more, but Joel named the ship on which he was marooned “The Satellite of Love,” in an obvious homage to Reed.
So, you get goofy clip, and now a pretty joyful version of the source. Miss you Lou!
Peter’s fine Bob Mould post reminded me of…Bob Mould.
Like Steve I was a fan of Husker Du, and then Sugar, but I was more than surprised when Mould appeared as a contributor to Beat the Retreat, a compilation/tribute (ugh, I hate that word in this context) to guitarist and songwriter Richard Thompson.
I am pretty out there as a huge Thompson fan. He is my favorite live performer and songwriter, and well, he was my favorite guitar player till I got turned on to Bill Frisell and appreciated Mick Ronson as much as I do now. Still top three with some pretty good company.
Anyway, Mould covers this fine Thompson tune, and kills on guitar, but he also really nails the timbre of Thompson’s voice. Best of all, I found a couple of other Mould covers of Thompson, so more to come!
UPDATE: Tech issues made posting last night a nightmare. Here are a few quick notes this morning before work.
Went out to dinner with Mrs. Rotoman and two friends, Lisa and Terry, at a tasty and crazy Bengladeshi place off Sixth Street. Good food, good fun.
Walked over to Bowery Electric in the cold, and got hands stamped (always fun). As showtime approached we met another friend, Walker, and headed into the charming room downstairs. The crowd was mostly middle-aged rockers, probably 150 or so souls. I didn’t feel old, for instance, but I did feel preppy.
The UC emerged at 10:47, two minutes late. Count Bassie kept his pinkie extended, politely. The crowd cheered. The band plugged in, Lord Bendover said, “we are here to roq-cue you,” and they played Let Them Eat Rock.
Another early fave was “Little Lord Fauntleroy.” Bendover introduced “Badminton” by saying it light of the impending summer they would play a song they rarely played live. It was a rare song in which the vocals weren’t crisp and clear, which was too bad, since they’re delightful.
Other highlights were the Duc d’Stortion-sung I Shall Winter Elsewhere, a lively ode to winter holidays set to a Chuck Berry riff, and Count Bassie on vocals for the Small Faces’ like Come Hither Fair Youth, followed by the stomper I’ve Got Class Up the Ass.
Yet another friend, another Lisa, had arrived a bit late. I found her upstairs on the mezzanine. The show wound down at midnight, with one encore that came after they took off guitars but didn’t leave the stage. “We must conserve our energy,” Bendover said while remounting.
It was a great fun show by a most unusual band. Who knows why they keep doing it, playing smallish clubs has to be a hassle and not that remunerative. But they are a tight rock band playing songs in a variety of hard rock styles with truly clever and funny lyrics and stage patter. That never gets old.
Here’s a bad clip (and big file that will take some time to load) to give just a taste. I’ll find more on the rocking web and post later.
Another pioneer of the rock’n’soul scene left us last week with the passing of Don Covay.
My first memory of Covay was when his hit Popeye Waddle was released in 1962, but his legacy and influence actually date half a decade earlier, and lasted a lot longer than the Waddle, which peaked at #75 on the Billboard charts.
Covay started his pop music career with the Rainbows, a singing group that also featured Marvin Gaye and Billy Stewart, and in 1957, joined Little Richard as both his driver and opening act. Richard also produced Covay’s first single, Bip Bop Bip.
Covay then formed the band The Goodtimers, and also began songwriting in the Brill Building, penning songs for Solomon Burke, Gladys Knight, and Aretha Franklin (Chain of Fools).
But, his best know song is probably Mercy Mercy, recorded with the Goodtimers, released in 1964, which peaked at #35, and was covered by a number of artists including the Stones (on Out of Our Heads) and which featured Jimi Hendrix.
Covay continued to work with some big names: Steve Cropper and Booker T., Paul Rodgers, and Ronnie Wood (who organized a tribute album for Covay) and others.
Similarly, his songs were recorded by a large and varied crowd, including The Small Faces, Gene Vincent, Wanda Jackson, Peter Wolf, Steppenwolf, and Connie Francis.
Covay died of a stroke last week, but he leaves some good stuff behind.
One highlight is a clip from one of Fields’ audio cassettes of Lou Reed after first hearing a recording of the Ramones (even though he is bleeped).
Oh, and there’s a movie about Fields coming out this March.
And there is this song.
“Because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and they have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment, we decided to name one new species after a punk rock icon,” said Shannon Johnson, a researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
And thus, A.strummeri was coined. More story here.
And here’s a band called the Snails covering (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais in 2010, in memory of Joe Strummer’s death, which came 12 years ago this week. Perfect.