Song of the Week – Debaser, Pixies

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I was lucky enough to catch v 2.0 of Pixies in concert at Street Scene in San Diego in 2005. I never saw them in their first incarnation that lasted from 1986 to 1993, even though they were based in Boston and I was living there at the time. But at least the group I saw shortly after they reunited in 2004 still consisted of all the original members, including bassist Kim Deal. (A 2006 documentary film called loudQuietloud: A Film About The Pixies captures the behind-the-scenes trials and tribulations of the band’s reunion. It is available for viewing on YouTube.)

The Pixies debut album, Surfer Rosa, is a gem. But their high-water mark was their second album, Doolittle (1989). Today’s SotW is the opening cut on Doolittle, “Debaser.”

The lyrics relate to the 1929, Luis Buñuel silent film Un Chien Andalou. In the opening scene of this cult classic a man appears to slit the eye of a young woman. In “Debaser” Black Francis sings:

Got me a movie
I want you to know
Slicing up eyeballs
I want you to know

Girlie so groovy
I want you to know
Don’t know about you
But I am un chien andalusia

In a 2014 interview with Esquire magazine, Francis said of “Debaser”:

“The song is sort of my Cliff Notes for the surrealist film Un Chien Andalou. There’s just enough information to get you through a test or if you need to know a few nuggets about that film. That was it from a lyrical point of view. Musically, it is what it is. I’m not even sure how I feel about that song. Sometimes I really enjoy playing it, sometimes I find it… I’m on the fence with it. We do it almost every night when we’re on tour. People seem to like it. It’s a good example of Pixies minimalism.”

“Debaser” is a prototypical Pixies song. It utilizes the loud/quiet dynamic that Nirvana later employed and made even more popular during the ‘90s grunge craze. But Pixies did it first!

Enjoy… until next week.

Bo-Peep Record Release Party in NYC.

Our friend Walker invited us to a short show by Bo-Peep, who promised some nuevo punk sounds from Fukuoka Japan. And saki, wine and sandwiches. The band was invited to the states by two guys, one of whom Walker knows, who paid their way over and set them up with some shows in Brooklyn over the weekend (including at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s cherry blossom festival, the blossoms will be rocking).

The place was an empty store on 8th Street in Greenwich Village, which is serving now as an art gallery, and the vibe was heterogenous, consisting mostly of young Asians, mostly women, and old American rockers. You can read what Bo-Peep has to say for themselves here, at their website.

I thought the band was terrific. This is high energy rock, but every song has musical ideas in it that make it stand out from the others. One tune had the pulsing drive of Golden Earring’s Radar Love, others had the straight-ahead drive of the Ramones. Others get a little herky-jerky, like this one from their album Vibe, which reminds me of Karen Oh’s band, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Live the vocals were a little undermiked, but the group’s dynamics comes across in this music video.

Here’s a cut of live footage with a studio version of another song.

Final note: The band had a little Pee Wee Herman doll sitting on the front of the stage. Don’t know why, but it made me think of Moyer.

Song of the Week Revisited Revisited – I’m Hip, Blossom Dearie

Jazz great Bob Dorough died Monday at the age of 94. Here is the NYT obituary:

It reminded me of the time I met him a few years ago and posted about it on this blog.

Here it is again.

Song of the Week Revisited – I’m Hip, Blossom Dearie

Song of the Week – My Girl Sloopy, The Vibrations & Hang On Sloopy, The McCoys and The Ramsey Lewis Trio

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Today’s SotW is an installment in the ongoing Evolution Series. The pick hit is “Hang on Sloopy.”

Everyone is familiar with the #1 hit version released by The McCoys, led by the 16-year-old Rick Zehringer (aka Derringer), in 1965.

But how many of you are aware that the song was first released under the title “My Girl Sloopy” by the LA based R&B group, The Vibrations, in 1964? Here it is!

Now back to The McCoys recording. The #1 hit was a 3 minute version that had two verses (“Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town” and “Sloopy let your hair down girl, let it hang down on me”). But that was an edited take. The full recording, with the third verse (“Sloopy wears a red dress, yeah, as old as the hills”) has been released on several compilations. Now you can hear it.

Although its lightweight lyric and infectious, sing-along chorus render it close to a novelty number. “… Sloopy” has been recorded by many other groups over the years, including rock, soul, jazz and indie rock artists.

One of my favorites is the lounge jazz rendition by The Ramsey Lewis Trio.

It was released on an album called Hang on Ramsey!, and the song won a Grammy in 1974 in the category Best R&B Instrumental Performance. It’s a live disc that sounds like it was recorded at a party. People sing along to the chorus. I don’t think he had any background singers, so it must be the audience that’s having all the fun.

“… Sloopy” holds a special place in my heart. It’s one of the songs I sang with the band at my wedding so many years ago. It is also in the set list for our family band – The Big Swinging Dorazios.

Enjoy… until next week.

Miles Davis and John Coltrane and Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers and Billy Cobb, So What

This is jazz, recorded live in 1960 in Sweden. So What is a classic jazz cut, the first track on Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. It is the kind of music that even if you think you haven’t heard it, you’ve heard it.

This live performance from Sweden is a classic demonstration of jazz and why. Fantastic performers, all five of them, take the tune and turn it into something huger. Yeah, that’s the best word I can come up with. Huger. A better word than amazing, but that, too.

If you want to check out the original album cut, which is great, too, here it is.

Wikipedia note: The actor Dennis Hopper at some point claimed that the name of the song came from a philosophical conversation Hopper had with Davis, during which Davis would say something and Hopper would say, So what?

Song of the Week – Golden Rough, The Bamboos

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The Bamboos are a contemporary, (mostly) white, 8-piece funk band from Australia — kind of a modern day Average White Band.

I stumbled upon their 2006 debut release, Step It Up, and immediately fell in love with the James Brown inspired grooves that they lay down.

Today’s SotW is “Golden Rough” from that album.

It opens with a drum pattern. After four bars bass and a funky rhythm guitar join in; then come the horns – those glorious horns! Once the groove is fully established, the band makes room for a trumpet solo before returning to the main groove. This is a track The Meters could dig.

“Get on the good foot.”

Enjoy… until next week.