This was the last age of the infinite possibility of one great virtuoso dragging the rest of the world into his mind, into his vision, without compromise, without contrivances, with nothing but drive, ambition and limitless talent. And we followed, didn’t we? I always thought Prince could make a hit record whenever he chose to, but I’m starting to think that that was MY standard, not his. To live through that time was a great gift for me.
Here’s another list of music stuff.
1. From Wikipedia:
In January 1969, former Yardbirds members Keith Relf, and Jim McCarty organised a new group devoted to experimentation between rock, Folk, and classical forms. This quintet — Relf on guitar & vocals, McCarty on drums, plus bassist Louis Cennamo, pianist John Hawken, and Relf’s sister Jane Relf as an additional vocalist — released a pair of albums on Elektra (US) and Island (UK-ILPS 9112), the first one, titled simply “Renaissance”, being produced by fellow ex-Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith.
The band had begun performing in May 1969, before recording had begun for the debut LP, mostly in the UK, but with occasional forays abroad, including festivals in Belgium (Amougies, October 1969) and France (Operation 666 at the Olympia in January 1970, and Le Bourget in March 1970, both in Paris). In February 1970, they embarked on a North American tour, but this month-long trek proved a mitigated success, as because of their Yardbirds credentials they found themselves paired with bands like The Kinks and their new classically oriented direction didn’t always go down well with audiences.
Beginning in the late spring of 1970, as touring began to grind on them, the original band gradually dissolved. Relf and McCarty decided to quit performing, and Cennamo joined Colosseum. Hawken organised a new line-up to fulfill contractual obligations and complete the band’s second album, Illusion, which was left unfinished.
If you ever get a chance, PLEASE don’t hesitate to pick up that first album. It’s beautiful, well-performed (especially the bass guitar) and almost indefinable. When the band was reinvented to include the great Annie Haslam, they had found a more versatile, pleasant chanteuse, but the original band was every bit as accomplished as an acoustic ensemble. “Island” is simply wonderful.
2. Boz Burrell went from temporary singer with The Who to temporary singer/bassist for King Crimson to permanent bass player for Bad Company, for whom he never sang lead.
3. It makes sense that Michael Jackson was one of the first great artists of the video age, but I don’t think his records stand the test of time any more than, say, those of Blondie. If you listen to those first three solo albums, they’re pretty tame, mostly due to Quincy Jones’ exacting production. The beats are effective but somewhat muted in comparison to the later hits that the Jacksons were enjoying at the time. I detest Teddy Riley’s sound even more. The New Jack bullshit and the whomping snare reduce Jackson’s ever-so-clean arrangements to a kind of dance-music parody. “Dangerous” is almost unlistenable, save for one gigantic slab of utter genius. I’m sorry you have to sit through the video. Forward to 3:30.
4. My buddy Michael makes a good point when he reminds us that Lady Gaga shouldn’t be compared so much to Madonna as to Dale Bozzio. Who? The ex-Playboy Playmate and lead singer for the band Missing Persons. She dressed outrageously, in what one could call “angular chic”. She had a whining, nasal voice, and she was fucking the drummer. Hmm. Have to check that last one out. Still, go Google yourself the band and see what I mean. Madonna didn’t reinvent herself to become famous, though. She reinvented herself to STAY famous. Gaga is the fake. And until she comes up with something as timeless and heartbreaking as this..
..she’ll be relegated to an Abdul-esque footnote.
And one for myself on a Saturday night. The American master with a band that nobody is able to touch STILL. Singing with an authority and passion that his words deserve. Simple, human, wonderful.
5. One of my favorite bands of the 70’s, ELO, lost one of their early members, cellist Mike Edwards, to a fatal car accident. He was killed when a bale of hay landed on his car. Here’s an article about it, but the picture, of course, is of Jeff Lynne and violinist Mik Kaminski, not Edwards. Edwards used to solo by playing the cello with a giant grapefruit. You’ll never see that sort of thing these days. His last word was “HAY!!!!”
6. If you want to feel totally alone and bewildered this week, go find an album by the Glitter Band, the band that backed Gary Glitter in his heyday. The two entities apparently functioned as contemporaries in 70’s UK music, and both were utterly terrible. Soulless. Or, failing that, do what I did a few weeks ago and listen non-stop to three of Ringo Starr’s late 70’s albums, “Ringo The 4th”, “Ringo’s Rotogravure” and “Bad Boy”. Talk about uncomfortable. Here was a the most famous drummer in the world recording lifeless pop dirges, trying everything, flailing away with different styles, until he finally gave up the ghost and began openly cashing in on the past with the horrendous “Time Takes Time” and its tacky paeans to his own life. One thing I’ll say for his late 70’s output—at least he was fucked up most of the time.
7. However, if you seek transcendence of a sweet pop flavor, get thee to the nearest copy of this: This album will make you smile. It’s Roger Nichols, who wrote so many songs that you are already familiar with that it’ll make you twitch like a bag of bees. His vocal ensemble sings some covers of the day, but it’s all so well done, so clean and beautifully arranged. It makes me smile whenever I hear it. I’m so glad I discovered it. You will love it too if you’re open to music that tries to do nothing more than make you smile. Here’s their version of a Bacharach-David song, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart“. Or this tune, “Love Song Love Song“. God damn I love it!!
8. The Rolling Stone Record Guide was like a bible to me and others when we were in our formative years, and I know some of us based our future purchases on the sage advice offered within. However, if you look carefully at the reviews for a band like, say, Gentle Giant, whose discography is riddled with no-star releases (the worst possible), pay attention to the initials of the reviewer. Often, as in most of the prog reviews, the people doing the judging often come from rogue punk or metal publications and were sort of freelancing at the time. There’s no way an album like “The Power and The Glory” is as bad as the soundtrack to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Watch out. Even today, established online rags like Pitchfork, along side less esteemed windbags like our own Independent (of what?) seem to offer up bewildering, useless cascades of keywords and snarky phrases to address music they simply don’t understand, and also praise music that is simply mediocre.
9. On my favorites list is one of the best music blogs I have seen. It’s RedTelephone66. And damn if I know where they dig up stuff. But they feature stuff like David Wallinski’s first band, and two (!) bands from the soft psych era named “Collage”. Here’s the one I have. It’s on my MP3 player. I’ll let you in on a little secret. When the song “She’s Just Laughing At Me” comes on, I pretend I’m in a video that someday my partner Mark Duncan and I will make to tell the song’s sad tale. I do love it so. It was written by the Addrisi Brothers, who also wrote “Never My Love” for The Association, another group that just wasn’t satisfied cranking out tasty pop hits, striving for relevance. Can’t people just have a good time?
10. I was making out with this chick in North Buffalo named Chris. She was sassy molassie!! She and her mom rolled joints and made apple pie while I sat and watched. Her mother left to get some condomes or something for her new boyfriend, and Chris and I started the dance of the tongues, when this came on her TV, no lie:
One time I was with my very nordic-looking girlfriend on the East Side, and we were gettin’ hot and heavy, while her TV was on MTV, and, no lie, this came on to give me a laughing fit. YOU try dry-humping to this.
That’s all for now!!!!