Out of the F.A. Cup. Three losses in a row. Need a new hobby.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
HONEY DOVE by Lee Fields & The Expressions.
Screw up your ears a bit and you can almost hear this as Al Green circa I'm So Tired Of Being Alone. But this is a little rougher than anything Al Green ever did. Amazingly enough, even though it sounds like it dates from the same time (or earlier) as "Gets Next To You," it dates from around 1999. And, it might even be better!
Seriously, this is a great song! Fields doesn't have the honey or smoothness that Green has, but what his vocal does have is complete conviction. He sings/pleads/shouts for her, and you can't imagine how he ever lost her in the first place. As a counterpoint, the trebly, swinging lead is as elegant as the vocal is raw. But the high point is when the horns burst in and carry the track to the fadeout. It gave me chills the first time I heard it!
Ever since I picked this track up off of Soul Sides, I've been trying to hunt down information on Lee Fields or the Expressions, but to little avail. The album was released on a label that folded and now the only copy I can find is only available for $60. That's why I don't feel too bad recycling this track--I really doubt any of you have heard it, and you need to hear it. But if you have have heard it, maybe you can tell me more about it!
Photo: Buffalo Bill (2).
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
And we thought we had an eventful weekend! Mom left Oklahoma an hour after we did Sunday morning. But instead of making it back to the East Coast in record time, she had to negotiate a connection in Dallas, and unfortunately, Sunday's winter storm caught up with her there. She was stranded for over a day, and didn't make it back to Virginia until 7 p.m. Monday night! That's the bad news...
...The good news is that after she got home, she found out that while she had been attending the shower, she had been named (at the event described above) the Prince William County Bar Association's Guardian Ad Litem of the year! Congratulations!
Monday, February 26, 2007
DREAM by Al Green.
I made several attempts last night to decide on a song, along with several attempts to get some rest. Of the latter the first try was around 7:30 p.m., and I didn't get much more than an hour or two at a stretch, due to this cold I've caught. So for irony's sake, Dream is the right pick.
It's also an all time favorite going all the way back to our sophomore year in college, when Jimmie brought home "The Belle Album" one day. Al Green is one of those artists whose exposure is like a gorge: deep, but narrow. Everybody knows Let's Stay Together, for example, but very few people actually go out and get his lesser-known albums. Dream is unusual for having been self-produced by Al instead of by Willie Mitchell; it's also 7 and 1/2 minutes long. But it's class, and it was the song I kept humming to myself last night as I tried to get some rest.
Photo: Buffalo Bill (3).
Sunday, February 25, 2007
An eventful weekend. Since I'm stalling for picking next week's songs, I'll summarize the goings on below the fold:
Amy and I made it Newark International in plenty of time Friday afternoon for our flight to Oklahoma City. Especially since it ended up being delayed for two hours. Fortunately I had a couple of Presidents' Club passes handy, so we got to snack on free beer and Fritos for awhile. We made it down to Oklahoma on an extremely tedious flight--no amount of dirty looks or turbulence could deter two strangers behind us (who had only met because they were both late getting on the plane in the first place!) from chatting inanely at full volume the duration of the flight.
Saturday morning Amy and I and Mom and Grandma went out to the Cowboy Hall Of Fame for a couple of hours, and then to the County Line for lunch. Then it was time for the main event, Katie and Chris's wedding shower.
Having never attended one of these things, I wasn't really sure what to do, but it was basically a nice little joint family reunion. We got encouraging feedback about our own wedding--that so many family members are even considering hauling themselves up to Maine is really gratifying! Fingers crossed it works out for them!
The night wrapped up with some American Idol Karaoke Revolution. I'm proud to report that I earned a double platinum record for Let's Stay Together (years of Al Green singalongs finally pay off!), and even better, on my next turn I became the only person booed off the stage all night for a truly shocking David Brent-style If You Don't Know Me By Now.
This morning was an early start straight to the airport. The flight home was quick, but I managed to finish up a couple of books (I was thinking that perhaps I would use this blog for book reports, but not today. For the record, I finished "When Affirmative Action Was White" and "Vietnam, Jews, and The Middle East: Unintended Consequences." The former explored the fact that all of our most progressive social programs (The G.I. Bill, social security, etc) were enacted when Jim Crow was in full effect, and how the postwar middle class was built, among other things, on the backs of Black America. The latter book is an account of the Middle East (particularly the events leading up to the Six Day War) viewed through the prism of LBJ's preoccupation with Vietnam. This one took awhile to gather momentum, but the last 40 pages were filled with interesting facts and observations that have a resonate (positively and negatively) today.)
Anyways, as I said, the flight landed 35 minutes early, early enough that I decided to check on the Carling Cup final, which was at halftime. Amy and I decided to try to make it to a bar to catch the end with Ned and Marcio. John Terry obliged by having his face nearly kicked off by Abou Diaby, so we got to see the last fifteen minutes of normal time and eleven-odd minutes of extra time. Unfortunately, and as could have been and in fact was predicted, we got there just in time to see Chelsea go in front. We never looked like equalizing, especially after a comedy brawl that had Toure and Adebayor sent off (with Eboue sure to follow). But fair enough, we played really well the first half, and it's clear to everyone we're going to have a ridiculously good team in a year or two.
So then it was off to pick up Martin, nap, and then wonder if either this rapidly approaching cold or already-arrived snowstorm will be enough to keep me at home tomorrow!
Friday, February 23, 2007
BRAINIAC'S DAUGHTER by The Dukes of Stratosphear.
Whatever I was doing it the Eighties, it wasn't listening to XTC. My Anglophilia didn't really begin in earnest until later, when I realized all my favorite classic rock was British, but I missed most of punk and new wave. Even when Blur was my favorite group, the references to them being a "new XTC" or "third-rate XTC" basically went over my head. And when I finally did try them out, they didn't do much for me.
But a couple years ago, Nick gave us "The Dukes of Stratosphear" and it just blew me away. The Dukes of Stratosphear was an XTC side project from 1985, the point of which was to pay homage to their sixties psychedelic heroes. And as indifferent as I was to XTC, I'm totally devoted to The Dukes.
Brainiac's Daughter is a favorite. Andy Partridge and David Gregory describe it pretty comprehensively:
Andy: “Right, well Brainiac is the character in the Superman comics, the evil genius with the green skin and the sort of lightbulb screwed in his head. He was like a Martian Lex Luther and I thought he's be a wonderful psychedelic subject to write about, and his potential daughter: I don't think he had one but if he had she would have been, well, colourful, mauve and purple.”Oh, and it was produced by John Leckie.
Andy: “Brainiac's Daughter was a conscious attempt to write as if McCartney had tried to come up with a track around the time of Sgt. Pepper or Yellow Submarine - 1967/68 - so all the ingredients were picked to sound like McCartney. Banana fingers piano, descending chord changes, falsetto vocals, nonsensical lyrics . . . it's got the lot! We tried to make a McCartney psychedelic soup. People thought it was the Bonzos by the time we'd finished it.” Dave: “Or Thunderclap Newman!”
Photo: Sunrise at the office.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
SUNLIGHT BATHED THE GOLDEN GLOW by Felt.
We've had a few milestones today. Today is the first time we have dogsat for someone in our building. Martin and Lafayette (another labradoodle, but brown) played lazily for a few hours, earning her parents a night off and perhaps some brownie points for us. Arsenal played in the Netherlands and lost for the first time in 2007. The less said about that the better.
And this post marks our first song (in only 46 songs, but still) from the Eighties! It amazes me that Felt is not better known, but they're not. I found them cited as an influence on The Clientele, and it took me quite a few months to track down this album, "The Strange Idols Pattern and Other Short Stories." Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow is characteristic of Felt's sound. It's no surprise that it's from 1984, but even so, it's got a really distinctive sound: guitars as dry and clear as a bell, almost ascetic in method, but used in a robust pop form. Lawrence Hayward's vocals are basically always described as "deadpan," but that's because it hits the nail on the head. You don't get the feeling he spent too long working out his vocals, because he had such a naturally singular delivery. And, as all good pop songs should do, Sunlight clocks in under three minutes! Enjoy!
Photo: Magic hour.
Monday, February 19, 2007
WHIZZ KID by Mott the Hoople.
Just like hip hop samples, undoubtedly more than half of my music is from the first half of the first half of the Seventies. Whizz Kid is no exception. It was released on "Mott," which came out in 1972, a year after Friday's offering.
I picked Whizz Kid to post yesterday, and to be honest, I hadn't listened to it since I got my first iPod four years ago. It's possible it hasn't been played since Shiloh 210 (that is, my last year in college). Back then, though, this song and that album were a huge hit at our place. This was during the Britpop era, and there were obvious family resemblances between this sound and the stuff we were listening to, like Cast and Kula Shaker, ha ha!
Listening to it now, I'm much more drawn to the portrait of New York that Ian Hunter sketches out, where you move from Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights because you're a boho groupie with a "street punk" dad and a "drunk mum." Nowadays of course you move to Brooklyn for a better return on your investment!
Anyways this song is going to lead us out of the early Seventies for a few days at least. Happy Presidents Day!
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Amy and I were ever so excited about today. Owen was coming into town and we were going to be able to spend quality time together. I mean, when does that happen, right? We were so excited that I got up at 6:30 a.m., walked the dog, made coffee, and woke Amy up. On top of everything, Arsenal were playing a match, and they're always exciting too. So at 7:15 we walked over to the Red Lion to watch the match and meet Owen.
Well, at halftime of the worst match I've ever seen, Owen texted saying he was feeling unwell and consequently wouldn't make it to the viewing. Or words to that effect. So not knowing that the second half would be as bad as the first, we stayed by ourselves for the whole thing. I finished my third beer, and then we went home and went back to sleep.
At around one, I woke up and took Martin to the dog run, and Amy took a bath. Below is a picture of the snowy dog run. Martin is, well, not quite in the frame, but the snow is. On the way home, Owen texted me for directions to McSorley's, I stopped to get hot chocolate, and now we're going to go to the movies with Stu and Claire. What an exciting day!
Friday, February 16, 2007
GOD BLESS AMERICA FOR WHAT by Swamp Dogg.
Swamp Dogg is a legend. Let him tell you:
Without any formal training I awakened one morning only to find that I was a genius and could master a number of musical instruments including piano, tambourine, sticks, finger cymbals, tweezers, washboard and bobby pin. ... I owe all my present success to a very dear person, someone who stuck by me when things were really bad and has never made a motion to harm me or my talents in any way. A person whom I love, worship and admire beyond any shadow of a doubt - ME!!!God Bless America For What is another funny, bitter political song written by Swamp Dogg. The title once again gives you the gist of the song. It's from his second album, "Rat On!"
The cover of that album was deemed by the Grauniad to be one of the ten worst album covers of all time. Maybe so, but I have a theory that it also, along with Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, may have inspired Nick in the design of our save the date cards. Go past the jump to judge for yourself!
Photo: In the middle.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I've only seen the highlights, but I'm going to sit down and watch the replay for a few minutes before Amy and I head off for some Valentine's Day dinner. Sounds like it was a cracker! This sets us up for a Fifth Round meeting Saturday with Blackburn. I can barely believe it, but three years ago tomorrow, Amy & I saw Jose Antonio Reyes's first goals for Arsenal in a Fifth Round match against Chelsea. We were there with Randall (who had secured the tickets) and Jeff, and also Jason and Marie, though they were sat in a different, sadder part of the ground. When that first goal went in, I thought the stadium was going to collapse. Fantastic. Anyways, this year we may have a date with Owen, who will be over from Blighty on a stag do. Beers at 7:30 a.m. could make for another memorable occasion!
I DON'T WANT TO BE PRESIDENT by Johnny "Guitar" Watson.
Today's offering is, apropos of nothing in particular, a little more light-hearted. I Don't Want To Be President is a chance for Johnny "Guitar" Watson to muse on, well, why he doesn't want to be President. (Sample lyric: "I'd got to have someone taste my cognac before I could take a drink.") People it's bad. (Being President, not the song.) The song isn't much of a "blues," in the style of all of Watson's late period offerings, but it does have a blues guitar solo! (possibly the first guitar solo of this blog's young life?) So if you ever wanted to hear The Ladies Man do political commentary, this is the tune for you.
Also, Happy Valentine's Day! Have a good Wednesday.
Photo: Ringed in white.
Monday, February 12, 2007
THE FREEDOM UNDER CERTAIN KONDITIONS MARCHING BAND by Charlie Whitehead a.k.a. Raw Spitt.
I've been waiting a long time to put this one up on the blog. Charlie Whitehead released this album in 1970 under the name "Raw Spitt," and it's one of those that lots of people say should've been a classic, much like the marginally more well known Swamp Dogg's "Total Destruction to Your Mind" album. (That last sentence would sound so much more pedantic if the names involved weren't "Raw Spitt," "Swamp Dogg," and "Total Destruction to Your Mind," wouldn't it?) The connection isn't incidental: Charlie Whitehead was the protege of Swamp Dogg, who wrote most and produced all of the songs on the album, including this one.
The Freedom Under Certain Konditions Marching Band is a little bit bitter and a little gratuitously dirty. But there are so many other elements that make this such a fun song to listen to. There are fewer lines more strange and more joyful than "Eating onions and tomatoes / And drinkin' suntan lotion." Plus, there's a great fuzz bass stolen from Dance to the Music, a jews harp, and of course the marching band's snare. Playing taps.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Arsenal matches this season have certainly followed a certain template. Quick start, no goals, brittle defending, sucker punch goal lost, strong second half, get a goal back (and sometimes get another goal back). So we won again today after again going behind. This was an entertaining match, where both sides can feel like they should have won. Arsenal because they did, Wigan because they played well and were pretty unlucky not to get a second goal or a penalty or have one or both of ours chalked off for offsides. Ironically we had third goal ruled out and it looked to be the only one that wasn't actually (or technically) offsides. Highlight of the match seeing Jens Lehmann give himself a yellow to (a) wind up Phil Dowd and (b) save himself the hassle of traveling to Cardiff for the League Cup final.
Here are some highlights, courtesy of arsenalist.com.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Friday, February 9, 2007
IT'S YOUR THING by Cold Grits.
Back in 2005 I had the pleasure of attending Jeff's 30th birthday party in Marrakech. On the way, though, I stopped in London and picked up a bunch of CDs in Berwyck Street. One of them was this breaks compilation. One night over in Marrakech I played this track and spontaneously started hopping around my room. And I mean hopping because at the time I was recovering from knee surgery and could only hobble around with a cane!
Later that year I stuck it on this mixtape I did, which remains just about my favorite one I've done (favorite cover, at least!). Anyways, not much about the track, but it's really good, believe me! Better than the Isley Brothers even. Enjoy your weekend.
UPDATE: I see that Soul Sides has released the tracklisting for its (? his?) Volume Two compilation, which I've been looking forward to. I have a few of these tracks, including, as it happens, this very tune!
Photo: Graffiti in Valparaiso.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
ATOM SOUNDS by Jackie Mittoo.
Today's offering is another instrumental, but this one is a little different. It's off the back end of a Jackie Mittoo collection I got a few years ago, aznd for some reason it's always been about my favorite Jackie Mittoo track. It's briskly paced so it's not a ballad, but it's still best described as a minor key piece. To me it sounds kind of like an alternate universe Jamaican Japanimation song, like that would be playing in the back as Speed Racer speed races along in the Mach Five trying to reach Racer X with some terrible news of some sort. Or something.
There's almost no backbeat on this track but it's still very funky. See you Friday!
Photo: Long way down.
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Another addition to the burgeoning Okie Arsenal ranks here. I never blogged the match with Boro because it was blaaahg. Boring match. We looked tired. But still undefeated in 2007! Plus I've been spending so much time on the other website lately I needed to get away from the computer just a little bit. Now I have to decide what song we're posting tomorrow morning and about a million other things at work. Toodles!
Monday, February 5, 2007
CARDOVA by The Meters.
One consequence of Hurricane Katrina on the internets was that all sorts of music from the Crescent City got dusted off and posted, simply to memorialize the event, or as catharsis, as a coping device, or what have you. Louisiana 1927 by Randy Newman, for example, all of a sudden became very popular.
Naturally, a lot of people were playing The Meters. One of the better music blogs out there, The Funky 16 Corners, posted an entry of a pretty rare Meters track that I had never heard. Called Cardova, it's off their first album. The entry I read said this:
Opening with a fat (and ever so slightly fuzzy) bass line, soon joined by that snappy Modeliste snare, Nocentelli guitar and Neville organ, Cardova is simultaneously relaxed and super, super heavy, with a funk engineered to make your buttocks and feet move independently of the rest of your body. If by the end of this song you aren’t doing the Hip Drop, going all “BOOM-bity BAP BAP UHN BOP A CHICKA” like a goofball, and ratcheting up the volume until the bass is rattling all the bric-a-brac off the top of your speakers, you need to restart the tune and repeat until all described symptoms are apparent.Another reason why I like this song is because I passed it on to Oren, who decided that this was the music he'd like to be played whenever he entered a room, like an aural calling card. I spent several hours trying to work out the logistics of that idea.
Photo: Buenos Aires, 2006. This stencil graffiti was EVERYWHERE down there.
Friday, February 2, 2007
BREAK IN THE ROAD by Betty Harris.
Well what a song this is. Where to begin? Start with the drums: this song has some of the insanest Animal drums I've heard. They're so free, but completely tight and funky. I always thought it was Ziggy Modeliste, because it's well known that the backing band on this record became The Meters (well known, I say, because among funk fans this tune is basically the President). I just read, though, that it's actually James Black (another famous New Orleans drummer) on the kit. Anyway, that's just the drums.
The production, it's some of the raunchiest production you'll ever hear. There's so much random feedback all over, like the band is trying to bust out your speakers.
And then there's the vocal by Betty Harris. She just kills it. It's so tough, so nasty. For a song that clocks in at under three minutes, there are a career's worth of highlights. She's just so on top of the beat. My favorite vocal bit is at 2:20 where she just casually lets the backup singers finish the chorus up, then goes right back into it.
I originally got this on a Betty Harris comp called the "The Lost Soul Queen." Lost, because this was the last track she recorded before disappearing from the music scene thirty years ago. But just a couple years ago, she turned up in Connecticut, and it's kind of a cool story. I'll put an excerpt in the extended entry:
And a Break in the Road is exactly where Betty Harris found herself. Each Toussaint session involved weeks of waiting in a New Orleans hotel room until Toussaint decided he was ready to cut her vocals. None of her labels paid royalties. A plan to tour Europe with Otis Redding and come under his manager's umbrella was scrapped when Redding was killed in a plane crash in 1967.
"Otis had passed. Bert had passed. Babe had passed. I looked at this business and said maybe this isn't what God wanted me to do," Harris says. "I came out of high school with such high hopes, and as much as I loved singing, I just did not find things in the world the way I thought it was. I had to find me."
Harris concerned herself with raising her two children. She went by her married name and dropped completely out of music. Living in Florida, she kept her vocal chords in shape in church and at community functions. She moved to Hartford eight years ago, seeking better educational opportunities for her daughter Christina. She started giving vocal lessons at the Artists Collective.
Right around that time, Nashville entertainment attorney Fred Wilhelms negotiated a settlement with one of Harris' old labels. The artists would finally see some of the royalties they were owed. But when he tried to find Harris, he came up empty.
Four years ago, Christina moved away to college and Harris got her a computer. One day, Christina called: "Mom, you're famous."
Hopefully I haven't overegged it by pushing this tune so hard, but I really think you'll love it if you don't already.
Photo: Crack in the Sidewalk, 2006.