Song of the Week – Pattern Against User, At the Drive In


One of the most popular SotW posts I’ve written was for “L’Via L’Viaquez” by the Mars Volta (August 30, 2014). It has received over 800 hits on this Rock ‘n’ Roll Remnants blog.

The Mars Volta rose out of the ashes of another punk band called At the Drive In, so it was only a matter of time before I posted about them. AtDI recently reunited, 17 years after their initial break up (and released a new album called in•ter a•li•a) making now as good a time as any to delve into their history and music.

In the early 90s, guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez met singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala at an El Paso punk club called the Dead End. Cedric formed several bands before recruiting Jim Ward and Omar to form AtDI. Over the next few years and multiple line ups (Ward joined and left the band several times) the group settled with the original three plus the rhythm section of bassist Paul Hinojos and drummer Tony Hajjar.

Fighting over artistic direction, exhaustion from relentless touring and the scourge of excessive drug use all converged to cause the band to call it quits in 2001.

Today’s SotW is “Pattern Against User” from AtDI’s 2000 album Relationship of Command.

According to Wikipedia, “Relationship of Command is now seen as one of the most influential rock albums of the decade, receiving accolades such as being ranked 47th in the 50 Greatest Albums of the 21st century in Kerrang!, number 83 on Spin Magazine’s 100 Greatest Albums 1985–2005, as well as number 90 on MTV2‘s greatest albums ever list.”

The new album has the band back in form and is worth checking out on Spotify.

Enjoy… until next week.

Elvis Costello, Penny Lane

So, this was from a live tribute to Paul McCartney at the White House. It has the White House logo on it.

It’s new to me. And wildly spirited and emotional, partly because Costello’s mum’s connection, but also because Costello is full of fire. And so is the band, especially the horn player, who comes from the president’s own band.

This is good stuff.

Glen Campbell is Gone.

We knew this was coming. The Big A claimed him some years back and he had a dignified last stand.

But today, my first thought was Gentle on My Mind, which is I think the first time I ever knew his name.

My second thought was watching them shoot Rhinestone Cowboy, the movie, on Bank Street. By them I mean Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone.

My third thought was plumbing the depths of Campbell’s time in the Wrecking Crew and the Beach Boys.

But finally, really, this bit of corny soundtrack to a good movie he starred in and contributed the soundtrack is a testament to his giant talent and versatility and big hearted spirit. A little more country than rock ‘n’ roll, a little more mainstream than any of us would like, he cut a big swath across the culture. Good for him.

Most Pompous, Overblown Record Review Ever?

Remember Sheer Mag? They’re a more-than-just-punk band from Philly who have lots of folks excited. Up until now, they’ve only put out vinyl or download EPs. Since I’m the only CD man left on earth, I have nothing and am very much looking forward to getting their first full album (on CD, of course) this month. (Also new Queens this month and new Ruby The Hatchet this month – musical life is good.)

But here’s the “Editorial Review” from Amazon. Can you get further than two sentences in before quitting? Give me a break:

Vinyl LP pressing. A tear in the firmament. Beyond the noxious haze of our national nightmare – as structures of social justice and global progress topple in our midst – there lies a faint but undeniable glow in the distance. What is it? Like so many before us we are drawn to the beacon. But only by the bootstraps of our indignation do we go so boldly into the dark to find it. And so Sheer Mag has let the sparks fly since their outset, with an axe to grind against all that clouds the way. A caustic war cry, seething in solidarity with all those who suffer the brunt of ignorance and injustice in an imbalanced system. Both brazen and discrete, loud yet precise, familiar but never quite like this, Sheer Mag crept up from Philadelphia cloaked in bold insignia to channel our social and political moment with grit and groove. Cautious but full of purpose. What is it? By making a music both painfully urgent and spiritually timeworn, Sheer Mag speaks to a modern pain: to a people who too feel their flame on the verge of being extinguished, yet choose to burn a bit brighter in spite of that threat. With their debut LP, the cloak has been lifted. It is time to reclaim what has been taken from us. Here the band rolls up their sleeves, takes to the streets, and demands recompense for a tradition of inequity that’s poisoned our world. However, it is in our ability to love-our primal human right to give and receive love -that the damage of such toxicity is newly explored. Love is a choice we make. We ought not obscure, neglect, or deny that choice. Through the tumult and the pain, the camaraderie and the cause, the band continues to burn a path into that great beyond. But where are we headed? On Need To Feel Your Love, they make their first full-length declaration of light seen just beyond our darkness. Spoken plainly, without shame: it is 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.

Song of the Week – Chitlins Con Carne, Kenny Burrell


86 year old Kenny Burrell is one of the most influential guitarists in jazz history. His crisp clean tone was influenced by Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt but also has one foot in the door of the blues.

Perhaps his most important album was Midnight Blue, recorded for the renowned Blue Note label in 1963. On this album Burrell is backed by Stanley Turrentine (sax), Major Holley (bass), Bill English (drums) and Ray Barretto (conga).

Midnight Blue contains today’s SotW, “Chitlins Con Carne.”

A blog called Jazz Rock Fusion Guitar has a posting that describes the song very well:

… “Chitlins con Carne”… is the low-key original that set the standard for this now standard Latin-tinged blues. The eight-bar intro lays down a pulsing Latin clave, with Holley pedaling the bass as Barretto takes liberties on the congas. Turrentine’s matter-of-fact statement of the melody establishes his by turns lugubrious and diaphanous sound.

Burrell’s sparse comping sets the album’s precedent for succinctness, one of his hallmarks. His deceptively clean guitar solo walks a tightrope between endless space and airtight rhythmic motifs; a devil-may-care attitude in the face of death that comes from having been down and out and having lived to tell about it. Turrentine plays foil, Captain Kirk to Burrell’s Spock, singing the blues right out of the gate, but the two show their psychic connection when seamlessly trading not fours, but ones, until the blistering out chorus.

This song has been covered numerous times by artists as diverse as Horace Silver and Junior Wells. But perhaps the most familiar cover was by Stevie Ray Vaughan. If this song sounds familiar I’ll bet it’s because you’ve heard Vaughan’s version, even if you don’t specifically recall it.

It’s pretty clear that Burrell influenced many blues guitarists that followed him – Hendrix, Santana and of course, Vaughan.

He must have even made some impression on Elvis Costello. Check out the tribute paid with the cover to his album Almost Blue.

Enjoy… until next week.