Friday, November 30, 2007


Listen to ERE MELA MELA by Mahmoud Ahmed.

From Rastafari to Haile Sellassie, here is some wonderful music from East Africa. I had a hard time picking a track for today because (solely thanks to the quality of the Ethiopiques series) almost every song I own is a brilliant piece of work.

I settled on Ere Mela Mela by Mahmoud Ahmed because it is especially otherworldly and creepy sounding, up to the very moment you get used to the Amharic scale and phrasings, then you realize it's simply gorgeous, and why it was a pop hit in the early 1970s. Well, pop hit may be stretching it (or may be not, I have no idea!), but Mahmoud Ahmed was and "a true icon of East African music." Ahmed's voice is so hard to describe without hearing him, but John Dougan did well enough for me: "it's Ahmed voice: swirling high notes that sound as if they're chasing one another, impeccable tone and phrasing that is the distinguishing element."

I hope you like it & see you again in December!

Photo: Silver Towers (3).


Thursday, November 29, 2007

List of "Top 100" Oklahoma musicians

My Dad just sent me this list that put together, of the Top 100 musicians from Oklahoma. Definitely worth checking out.

Just on first pass, Bob Wills (9!), Jimmy Webb (58), and Henson Cargill (71) are way too low (especially Bob Wills wtf?), but everybody is entitled to their opinion. I can't think of anyone off the top of my head they completely left out but I know there's one or two.

Interesting facts I just learned: Neal Schon from Journey (who my friend Chris memorably described as having a guitar tone "like a wet bar of soap") was born in Oklahoma City; Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains lives on a ranch outside Atoka; The Gap Band is from Tulsa, and their name was originally the "Greenwood, Archer, and Pine Street [i.e. Black Wall Street. Great book here if you're unfamiliar] Band;" and Spade Cooley brutally stomped his wife to death.

I may return to this list some week in the future!


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Listen to ARK OF THE COVENANT (Original Mix) by The Congos.

For a week I've immersed myself in the world of the ancient Hebrews reading this fantastic book, "How To Read The Bible," by Harvard's James Kugel. It's a one volume survey course on biblical studies, just like the ones we had to take at Baylor. I can't recommend it enough. The text (for the generalist) is excellent, but the endnotes (for the academic) are wild. I'd occasionally flip back to them and the amount of scholarship that goes into any given biblical verse is heavy, man.

You might think it's an awkward pivot from Bible studies to Jamaican music, but only if you had never listened to roots reggae. And in particular, "Heart Of The Congos" by the Congos. This album is drenched. Drenched in echo, drenched in haunting vocal harmonies, drenched in Rastafarian religious imagery.

"Even the ants / Safe in a Noah sugar-pan"

Ark Of The Covenant has been my favorite track from this album for a few years. Roy Johnson's conflation of the "Ark of the Covenant" (Numbers 10:33) with "Noah's Ark" (Deuteronomy 31:26) would be a little daft to somebody like Professor Kugel, but to me it's seamless and inventive. That's mainly because of the way his pleading tenor interweaves with Cedric Myton's falsetto. Not to mention Lee Perry's oft-mentioned production...

It's a beautiful song. And for most of you, this mix is totally new. It's shorter, relatively austere compared to the definitive Blood and Fire issue. Have at it, Ark Of The Covenant, highlight from the best album ever released in Jamaica. Possibly.

Photo: Silver Towers (2).


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Arsenal post: feel free to skip!

Well, interesting game, shame to lose, but it's not a surprise. It's difficult to go with a weakened team, nothing (or very little) to play for, against a team that raises its game against big teams, and who would be especially motivated against us.

It would probably be unfair to criticize any individual players, but what you can say at the very least is that few of them that came in did their cause much good. With the possible exception of Eduardo, they all had mediocre games.

Traore never ever got forward or did anything (though he was against Alves); Senderos was poor, almost as poor as his reputation (which I've felt is undeserved but not on today's evidence!); Hoyte was rightfully substituted; Gilberto was sluggish, laid Seville's first goal on a plate; Denilson was just okay.

As for Bendtner, I have to admit to having it in for him a little bit. He's a popular alternative among forum denizens who think Adebayor isn't good enough. I think those people are crazy. Bendtner did some good things in the box, and he has qualities Adebayor doesn't have.

But the latter would never give the ball away on his halfway line like Bendtner did three times in the second half. It really put us under pressure, whereas Adebayor keeps possession as well as anyone in the league.

Anyway, I'm not bothered about this match at all. I would have liked to see individuals performing better, but it's good experience for all involved. Let's hope Fabregas isn't too badly injured and move on to the Villa match!


Monday, November 26, 2007


Listen to DANSE KALINDA BA DOOM by Dr. John.

How to describe Danse Kalinda Ba Doom? Do you say that it is in a near-perfect groove as soon as it wants to be? That it's one of the eeriest, creepiest pieces of music you'll hear? That its first 25 seconds are almost completely disorienting, and that it is still revealing its secrets 40 years after it was recorded? How can we market this boogaloo crap? (Those first questions are mine, the last one reportedly what Ahmet Ertegun asked when first presented with the "Gris-Gris" album.)

I have this image of wandering into a voodoo back alley swamp where you're not supposed to be under the influence of something or another. In other words, what New Orleans is "supposed" to be like. But after Katrina everybody knows that's not the case and besides, Danse Kalinda and the rest of the album was recorded in L.A.--on studio time borrowed from Sonny & Cher!

I've done my best not to simply throw this song to the audience and beg you to listen to it, but you really should listen to it. (And adjust the balance so you don't have the always annoying late-60s aggressive stereo separation.)


A bit of signposting for you. This week the theme is a few songs with an "otherworldly" sound. Next week Corbett has been invited back to do some more of his songs. Then the following week we're going to roll out this year's Holiday Mix, which is already 95% done! Have a good Monday!

Photo: Silver Towers (1).


Friday, November 23, 2007


Listen to JUST TO KEEP YOU SATISFIED (Alternate Vocal) by Marvin Gaye.

Hi there, hope all of you had a good Thanksgiving! Here's a track for both veteran and casual Marvin Gaye fans. Recall a few months ago we posted one other Marvin Gaye track, I Met A Little Girl, from the psychodramatic "Here, My Dear." As we were saying, that entire album was a disturbingly candid commentary on Marvin's divorce from Anna Gordy.

"Though the many happy times we had / could really never outweigh the bad."

This was a concept from out of nowhere...except that it had been hinted at four years previously with Just To Keep You Satisfied, the final song on "Let's Get It On." Everyone knows the title track, and the rest of the album is just as sex-crazed...except for Just To Keep You Satisfied! ...Satisfied is frank, ironical, bitter, emphatically not an easygoing sex jam. It recasts Let's Get it On (both the song and the album) in an entirely different light. But there's no real way to understand Marvin Gaye without understanding his obsessions with sex and regret, so ...Satisfied is a key track.

Until the "Let's Get It On" deluxe edition came out, I was really intrigued as to how Marvin was able to shoehorn such a revealing and honest (and so bitter) lyric into this relatively conventional music. It's like one of those pop songs that sound all happy until you listen to the lyrics and their about jumping off a bridge. As it turns, out, ...Satisfied originally was a conventional ballad about being a good husband that Marvin (and Anna!) had written a few years back but never recorded. The deluxe edition has earlier cover versions with the original, "normal" lyrics.

But to close "Let's Get It On," with his marriage now in shambles, headed eventually to divorce, Marvin took the song and gave it a new arrangement and new lyrics to reflect his disappointment and disillusionment. The version we're posting today is an alternate vocal (for those of you already familiar with the album version), also available on the Deluxe Edition.

That's all we have for you today, so have a good weekend!

Photo: Fishermen below Overholser (3).


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Be thankful for what you've got.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Listen to GONNA GIVE HER ALL THE LOVE I'VE GOT by Marvin Gaye.

This Care Of Cell 44 analog is maybe not a lost classic, but it's an indicator of Marvin Gaye's quality that it's not considered a lost classic. If that makes any sense, which I doubt it does.

Gonna Give Her All The Love I've Got is the opening track from "That's The Way Love Is," released at the beginning of 1970. It's mostly covers, very conservative arrangements, and tasteful performances from Marvin. Yet it's a fascinating album, because it was recorded and released in the middle of tremendous personal turmoil (Tammi Terrell would finally die in March of that year from brain cancer, and professional turmoil (this was the last album released before "What's Going On," a project he had already begun at this point). So "That's The Way Love Is" marks the end of an era. Yet songs like Gonna Give Her evince no apparent tension or strife. Like I said, fascinating.

Photo: Fishermen below Overholser (1).


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I got nothin.

I've recently come to the conclusion that with nearly a year down on this blog venture that I really should be efficient enough to be posting something every day. Whether that's a song every day or just content, I don't know, but today I got nothin. Just so you know. Back tomorrow with a very nice song though!


Monday, November 19, 2007


Listen to IF THIS WORLD WERE MINE by Marvin Gaye.

If This World Were Mine is from 1967's "United," Marvin Gaye's first duet album with Tammi Terrell. Originally released as a B-Side to If I Could Build My Whole World Around You, it has since become something of a standard. Unusually, it was written and produced by Marvin himself, and it has to rate with his best original compositions.

And a great performance too. One thing to note is how restrained the two singers are. There's no trading vocal chops or dueling melismas, just a complete focus on the chemistry between Marvin and Tammi. This is Motown discipline at its finest.

If This World Were Mine is one of those songs you half expect to hear in some schlocky arrangement on American Idol or John Legend Unplugged, but that's not to say there aren't any good covers. In fact, for years my preferred take on the song has been Tyrone Evans's uptempo, urgent arrangement I got from the Trojan Singles box set. But that's for another day isn't it? Until then, enjoy your Monday!

Photo: Fishermen below Overholser (1).


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Oklahoma pity party.

Phooey. Small consolation that I saw it coming...


Friday, November 16, 2007

Oklahoma birthday party.

The best part about yesterday is that Maddox called up and said he had tickets to the OU basketball game. The best part of that is that when we got there we found out that not only did we have tickets but they were in the second row courtside. And then when we got to our seats, someone was sitting in them, but the best part of that was that we just sat in the seats right in front of them! We did our best to have fun and not get kicked out (we were on our last warning with the security lady, and one of the Memphis players actually turned around during a free throw to tell Maddox to "shut the hell up") and just about managed it.

Then we went to a bar across the street, and the best part of that was that we saw Arizona beat Oregon.

But now I have a headache.



Listen to FEVER by Jingo.

After two posts with no drums to speak of, the rhythm comes back in full force today. Fever is one of the heaviest tracks I know, a perfect fusion of James Brown and Fela [/african music cliche]. But it's a miracle I'm able to post it for you. Check out how the song was discovered:

In 1994, in an electrical shop that's now closed down, I found a copy of the single Fever by Ishmael Jingo. I had tried to find him on two previous visits to Africa and was unsuccessful. In 1998, I spent three weeks looking for him. I was told by people who said they had played with him that I should go to Mombasa. I finally found his village and his family, saw the garage where he had recorded the track, and met the bass player from the band, who gave me the photo of Jingo that features on the album. He granted me licence to use it.
The guy talking is Duncan Brooker, and the album he put out is a compilation called "Afro-Rock" [ed: apparently it's also now been put on the Last King Of Scotland soundtrack]. Fever is the opening track. I love the sound of the drum kit on this. It's probably something to do with the compression, but it sounds so hydraulic. From the massive break that opens the track to the way the musicians find space in the basic pattern to create all sorts of syncopations and polyrhythms and funk moments, you know these guys were huge James Brown fans. And we know this is the case, because one of the band's extant claims to fame is, get this, almost meeting James Brown:
For East Africans, their only real-life encounter with James Brown in person came in the late 1970s, and that too only at a distance, when the singer had a brief stopover at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and there to meet him in transit were the legendary nightclub band Gloria Africana with the late Ishmael Jingo, who had planned to pull off a surprise reception with a cover of one of Brown's songs.

"It was at the old airport; we played his timeless hit I Got You (I Feel Good). Alas, James Brown could not leave the plane, but he stepped out and waved," remembers Ali Kache, a Nairobi jazz musician who played with the band. The band was thrilled but desperately disappointed too as they had of course hoped to meet him in person.

That fleeting moment hence stands as East Africa's only real-life contact with James Brown, though the song played by the Nairobi group on that day is today the soundtrack for a Guinness Malt commercial on Kenya television.
Excellent. Do hit the link for this one, and have a good weekend!

[Note: I'm deleting the hyperlink that's usually here ("LISTEN") so it doesn't duplicate in the little player on the right. You can still download from the link at the top of this post.]

Photo: Street people (3).


Thursday, November 15, 2007

All mod cons

I know a few of you would like to play music directly over the internet without worrying about downloading and importing and all that. To that end I added a music player on the right-hand side of the blog. Just click on whatever song and it should stream directly, if you have Flash capability. If it works for people, we'll keep it!

I neglected to do this earlier, but I also wanted to point people to my friend Kendal's essay on Oklahoma's 100th birthday (tomorrow!). It's thoroughly readable and original and for my money it gets at something important about the Oklahoma character.


Space is the place

We made a little progress with our ceiling today. Finally got our moisture meter and the plaster & concrete are bone dry. Yea! Now we finally have to make a decision on whether to re-plaster like it was or add a drop ceiling with lighting fixtures. And how much (if any) we'll do ourselves.

Last week we posted a youtube video of a dinner with the Grizzly Bear gang. Today we're sharing a video from later that night of Stu interviewing Of Montreal. Keep your eyes out (and ears open) for a (tired and emotional) appearance by Ed Grizzly, who in turn provokes an on-camera appearance from Stu. The Of Montreal boys look just as confused by it all as my description of it!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007


YAABA by Francis Bebey.

Francis Bebey is a really big name in African music worldwide. Or at the very least, a really big name in getting African music recognized worldwide. Cameroonian, educated in France and the United States, it is said that Bebey "donned the mantle of a universal griot, a traditional West African councilor, musician, and historian. Indeed, Bebey was a griot for the entire world."

Bebey was "Africa's renaissance man:" a musician, a composer, a novelist, journalist, the list goes on. But here we're only a humble music blog, so we're going to focus on just one of Bebey's compositions. Yaaba is theme music to a French film released in 1989. It was shown in New York at that time, but isn't available on U.S. format anymore.

Yaaba kind of reminds me of Tetris video game music! (Which I don't mean to sound bad. It's just that it's keyboard music (to my ears at least, there aren't any traditional instruments on here at all, just keyboards), no percussion to speak of, and it progressively builds in complexity while always circling around its basic melody. It's very easy to play this one on a loop.


Photo: Street people (2).


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

La Francophonie

While (hopefully) all of you have been listening to Bokme from yesterday, I've been listening to this out-of-print Guinean record, "Venez Voir!!" by the 22 Band. There's very little I can tell you about it, except it's a large West African ensemble, circa 1980, fusing electric with "traditional" with Cuban styles, so it sounds vaguely similar to the Rail Band and Orchestra Baobab (though not really too close). If any of you are interested in it, let me know, I've got it uploaded already in fact.

So yes, the Francophonie. Arsenal-blogging has been kind of silly this season so far, we've yet to lose, and haven't even conceded a goal in Europe, so writing it up is almost gratuitous. I watched the match yesterday, and the only thing I can brag about is that after 15 minutes of watching Alexander Hleb miscontrol every single ball that went to him and looking completely hopeless, I thought to myself, "He's now bound to set up a goal, or score, or both." Which was true! Too bad I didn't get my prediction in print!


Monday, November 12, 2007


BOKME by Momo Wandel Soumah.

Greetings blogpeople! I wanted to say thanks to Corbett again for his posts. They were so well thought out and well written I'm a little embarrassed for myself. Must do better.

This week I'm going to share with you three of my favorite tunes from the great state of Africa. First off we'll have something from the city of Guinea. Momo Wandel Soumah was a huge star in Guinea, but as so often is the case, mostly unknown in the Western world. Here's how the Independent described his career:

A late flowering in the lengthy career of the visionary Guinean musician Momo Wandel Soumah brought him to the attention of world music fans, although the multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer never quite gained the recognition he deserved.
They released their first album, Matchowé, in 1992 on the French label Buda. Several well-received tours of Europe followed, but the death of two members meant that the follow-up, Afro Swing, didn't appear until 2001, on the Belgian imprint Fonti Musicali. Wandel Soumah's most recent success was as musical director of the Paris-based company Circus Baobab. In April this year [2002], they performed three sold-out shows at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
Soumah was 77 in 2002--in April he played sold out London concerts, but unfortunately by June he was dead.

Bokme is taken from the first album, "Matchowé." It was out of print but I found this track from the indispensable source of African music, Benn Loxo Du Taccu. Over there Soumah is described as a West African Tom Waits. That's not so evident on this particular song, though just like a good Tom Waits song Bokme is heavily influenced by jazz traditions without being jazz (or jazzy!). There is one interview where Wandel described his approach, and it is applicable here:
"I wanted to have jazz in my sound, but to associate it with folklore. Because I could hear something of jazz in my musical territory here. Every time I heard a jazz record, I thought that's a rhythm from here. There is the tam tam, the gingou, the little doun-doun."
"The bolon that we play makes the same sound as the contrabass. So I brought that in. We tuned it, and it gave the rhythm. Then I added the flute and the djembe. No drums. A jazz drummer gives the tempo with the bass drum and does his fills on the snare and the toms. The djembe does the same thing in our group.
Bokme is a lithe major scale melody played on the balafon, given different textures by a series of solos on alto saxophone, idiophone, flute, and djembe. Soumah calls out a vocal to frame and reset the song. It's really lovely, peaceful, and engaging. A great start to Monday we think!


Photo: Street people (1).


Sunday, November 11, 2007

More like this please

With Arsenal not playing until tomorrow, I was allowed a rare weekend of non-soccer disruption (never to be repeated until... NEXT weekend), but I did watch a lot of college football, and it was, as Brian put it, an almost perfect day. Ohio State lost, Notre Dame got embarrassed again, OU won though Baylor was respectable, Kansas won, beating I'm-a-man-I'm-forty, Missouri won. We're now one more loss from having our destiny back in our hands--it's been a crazy college football year!


Friday, November 9, 2007



Bill here. Corbett asked me to post this for him:

Well, it's the weekend and I'm in San Antonio, so I'm keeping it short
and sweet today. Plus, I was kinda long-winded about the Everly
...OK, really long-winded!

Today's artist is Link Wray. Wray had his biggest hit, "Rumble", on Cadence in the late 50's. He was primarily known as a guitarist and
seemed to go underground during the 60's, doing his own thing--mostly running his Maryland farm. However, the advent of the Band's first record lit a fire under Link Wray (as it did to all sensible people except maybe Marc Bolan who was otherwise occupied with alien hobo wizards) and he returned with an eponymous LP in 1970 that is truly amazing.

Credit goes to Bill for the "discovery" of this record. Today's song
is taken from "Link Wray" and it rocks HARD. This is one of the toughest, most intense slices of country-blues I have ever heard. Not only does it rock, it rocks acoustically--anyone who has ever done some home recording knows how difficult this can be. In addition to its musical charms, this song has some righteous lyrics about, well, fire and brimstone. Wray invokes some wicked Satanic imagery,
convincing me of his status as a true rock and roll badass.

So, sit down, open a beer and prepare to be amazed by the evolution of our last 50's rocker not content to let life pass him by! Enjoy the weekend and I hope to see you back here soon for my next series--"Folk Rock Redux--Blowin' Minds!"!


Photo: Kit Carson Home, Taos, NM.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Maybe I know that

Just checking in. We're still waiting for a moisture meter something-or-other on the ceiling. It's getting annoying. Philip and I went to see a couple of shows the last two days. First we saw Andrew Vladeck play a little folk showcase. Mainly so we could congratulate him on finally finishing his album. But it turns out he's not finished! Give it a year or two... (Having said that, I listened to the mixes he does have and they sound fantastic. The last round I heard in June I thought were good, but these are even better. So Andrew, if you're reading this, you done good!)

Last night we went out to Williamsburg to see Alana Amram's CD release party. She was just as good as expected, but the real surprise was this band called Puddin' Tang. Very Nuggets-y, but very tight. You never think openers will be any good (especially with such a bad name, frankly), but we both thought they were brilliant.

The other day I was looking through old blog posts trying to get this year's Christmas CD started, and I came across my friend Chris's blog on building a prefab home in West Virginia. If that sounds even remotely interesting, definitely go check it out. He's a very good blogger, and the house looks like a dream already, You can only imagine all the work that's gone into it--Actually not true, because he's told you all the work that's gone into it. Add it to your RSS feed, or your bookmarks, or whatever you do.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007



Today we're featuring one of the most wonderful acts in pop music, the Everly Brothers. An inspiration not only to the Beatles (the Everlys' Gibson Jumbos inspired the Beatles to ask for the same guitars from Brian Epstein) and Beach Boys, the brothers were influential on succeeding generations of country rockers (and country singers). The Everlys may have the most wonderful vocal blend ever. I think it was Gram Parsons who said they "harmonized as only people who are closely related by blood can" (or something to that effect).

Like Monday's subject, Del Shannon (but even more so), the Everly Brothers were unfairly pigeonholed by the success of their 50's singles. After being musically tutored by their father Ike (an excellent guitarist in his own right) as youngsters, the brothers found early success on Knoxville's famed WROL radio station, performing two shows a day. They were soon celebrated by the musical luminaries of Knoxville (including Chet Atkins) and were signed to Cadence where they made a string of legendary singles with the husband and wife writing team Boudleaux and Felice Bryant. The Everly Brothers' blend of Appalachian folk and close harmonies combined with a modern pop sensibility proved to be a musical goldmine in the late 1950's. Although their work continued to be just as strong after they signed to Warner Brothers in 1960 (see "Cathy's Clown", "Walk Right Back"), their last Top Ten hit was 1962's "That's Old Fashioned". This is a bit strange considering the Everly Brothers stayed contemporary right through the 60's, adding Byrds-y flourishes to their work and even recording an album with the Hollies in Britain. As with many artists of their quality, the Everly Brothers remained quite popular in Great Britain.

This brings us to today's song, "Ventura Boulevard", from the Everly Brothers' 1968 album, "Roots". This was a album length statement which pointed very clearly to many of the country rock trends that would become so popular in the 1970's. It's interesting that so many artists (probably due to the rapid style-shifting of the psychedelic years) were doing records that attempted to get them back to their "roots" ( e.g., Elvis, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Dylan), not to mention groups that were evolving toward a sound that hearkened back to a more idyllic (and probably imagined) time in American music (e.g., the Band). The Everly Brothers' "Roots" does a bit of both of these things--it both gets them back to some influential material (Jimmie Rodgers, traditional standards) while setting new trends. The latter was largely achieved by using Ron Elliott as a writer and producer for the sessions. Elliott was the brains behind the under-appreciated Beau Brummels, who themselves were recording the country rock landmark "Bradley's Barn" in Nashville. But that's a totally different story...

"Ventura Boulevard" is a lovely, sentimental song written by Elliott about a more innocent and pastoral Southern California. The lyrical content is accented by the Everlys' beautiful harmonies--I think they do a wonderful reading of this excellent song, which seems so out of step with the openly rebellious lyrics popular at the time. Rather, this song rebels through its innocence--I mean, "we had an ice cream for only a dime"? That is lovely. Even more lovely, however, is the Everly Brothers' treatment of the song. Enjoy this wonderful tune.


Photo: Some Ladies of the Canyon Meet a New Friend in Runyon Cyn.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I've come awful close

With Corbett doing an admirable job with the songs (and photos!) this week, I can't get my normal bloggy fix. Hence this post! Last week some of you might have read that Porter Wagoner died. You don't need me to tell you what a legend he was. But his (frankly) weird persona always interested me, as did his Nudie suits. With his passing a few people posted songs from his album he released this summer, an album he called his best work. I have to say it's pretty engaging, and I might have to pass a selection on here.

Amy and I put Porter and Dolly on one of our favorite Christmas CDs, "One More Round, Bartender, It's Christmas!" I was sad to read that another guy we featured on that mix, Hank Thompson, is struggling with cancer. To be honest, I was surprised to find out he was still around. I've got a whole lot of Hank Thompson and His Brazos Valley Boys, it's all top notch musicianship and always with a good sense of humor. Just last week I tracked down his Wednesday Night Waltz for a project I'm kinda working on. Best wishes to him and his family.

Next, this American Gangster movie, I didn't realize was a biopic. I think it grew out of this interesting article on Frank Lucas from 2000. One of the many anecdotes in the article has to do with his (possible) connection to a hit on an Italian lawyer who owed Lucas money. Gino E. Gallina, "then a Pelham Manor mouthpiece for 'top drug dealers and organized-crime figures,' was rubbed out 'mob style . . . as many passersby looked on in horror.'" I only bring this up because that hit happened thirty years yesterday, and it happened at Varick and Carmine, down the block from where Windy now lives and exactly where we watched the United match Saturday morning. Well it was interesting to me!

Finally, when Stu got back from the Iceland Airwaves, he was telling me about this traditional Iceland dinner he went to with Valgeir and the guys from Grizzly Bear. He said that one of the girls there told this too-absurd-to-be-true story about a discovery some friends of hers made in the woods while tripping on acid. And here is that story!

Late Update: Hank Thompson has died. RIP.


Monday, November 5, 2007



Hi folks,

My name is Corbett and Bill has graciously offered me the chance to guest blog this week. My natural inclination is just to post a bunch of obscure Buffalo Springfield & Byrds songs and have a folk rock a-go-go, but I'm going to try something I hope is a little more challenging.

This week's theme (apologies to those who hate things being spelled out too clearly) will be "Updated 50's Rockers--More than a Makeover". I'd like to explore a few artists who are primarily known for their hit singles in the 1950's or pre-Beatles 1960's and take a closer look at some of their later work.

Today we're going to start with Del Shannon (of Grand Rapids, MI) and his song "Sister Isabelle", a single released in 1969 on Dunhill. Shannon is best remembered for his smash 1961 hit "Runaway", with its eerie organ solo (recorded by Max Crook on his Musitron, a three-octave monophonic keyboard) and creepy lyrical themes of loss and abandonment. In many ways, Shannon's early singles (see also "Hats Off to Larry") foreshadowed the British Invasion--They had a focus on minor chords and were written by the artist himself.

However, by the mid 1960's, Shannon was far past the prime of his career. Despite being overshadowed during these years, Shannon continued to write and record, including the admirable Andrew Loog Oldham produced "Home and Away", an interesting and effective piece of psychedelia, and the ambitious "The Further Adventures of Charles Westover" in 1968. This brings us to our song for today, "Sister Isabelle". I first heard this tune while driving in Plainfield, New Jersey, listening to WFMU. I was really bowled over by it. It's sappy but tough, clever yet heartfelt. In short, it's exactly what my wife would call "Corbett-bait". I just love Shannon's yell at the end when he asks "Does He need you more than I do?" It also has an incredibly cool bridge, replete with swirly, phased choir-style vocals, nicely complementing the lyrical content. Anyway, this single reveals a writer still in strong form and I'll bet Billy Joel listened to it a few times before penning "Only the Good Die Young".

Unfortunately, as is often the case in pop-snob lore, the story does not have a happy ending. Despite being tipped as the replacement for Roy Orbison in the Traveling Wilburys, Del Shannon committed suicide by gunshot in 1990. On that note, enjoy "Sister Isabelle"!


Photo: Tule, Oaxaca.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

How easy could it be?

Last night we realized a little late that OU wouldn't be on regular TV, so we went up to Hill Country barbecue, where they say that they broadcast all of the Texas and A&M games. Not true. But a good meal anyway (and lots of UT fans having fun with Mike Gundy, so funny). We walked over to Duke's Bar & Grill in time for the second quarter. It was a walkover, which is fine with us!

Next week, if all goes to plan, Corbett will be blogging for you here. I am looking forward to what he has to play and what he has to say. Especially since he actually knows what he's talking about! Stay tuned.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

It's not that boring is it?

I expected the first scorer to go on and win 3-1 so at halftime I was pretty resigned. Fortunately we got a quick goal (brilliant work from Alex Hleb for that by the way), and it turned into a memorable match. We've dropped four points the last two matches which is two more than I was hoping, so the pressure remains on us.

Good times today though. Oren rang at 7:30 wondering why the match wasn't on yet (he forgot that UK's daylight savings time started last week). After the match we spent some time chatting with the bartender, who was chopping up limes & stuff to fill up his service tray. That's because, as Windy told me later, I had knocked over the whole tray ("cherry juice everywhere") celebrating our second goal. I had no idea.

By the way, here are the complete highlights from the Liverpool match.


Friday, November 2, 2007


TRANSPARENT DAY by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band.

I've been looking forward to posting this song for a couple of days. Not because it's really good (although it is), but ever since I put up the Judee Sill song I've had it in my head. I'd sing it to myself. But not "Jesus Was a Crossmaker." Instead I'd sing "Jesus Was a Homewrecker" or "Jesus Was an Arm-Breaker" or "Jesus Was a Drug-Taker" or "Jesus Was a Handshaker" or something else. Try it! Once I started I couldn't stop.

Moving on... I've been wanting to hear The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band forever, mostly because every single review or interview of The Clientele I've ever read it's been "this band sounds like The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band" or Alisdair Maclean saying "I wish I had written Transparent Day by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band" or something similar.

And it turns out that the first album is excellent all the way through. It's got a good amount of weirdness sprinkled through it; I can see why they only have a cult following. Transparent Day doesn't have any of that weirdness, though, just Byrdsiness, so don't worry! As always enjoy your weekend. If you're me this is a big sports weekend--Arsenal v. Man United tomorrow morning, OU v. A&M tomorrow night.


Photo: Woodstock (3).


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Grow a Mo for Prostate Cancer

Here occasionally we like to do things for a good cause. This month our friend Jason is spearheading a funny way to raise money for prostate cancer research. He's even got Bob Dylan helping him out. Check out the video and I'll include his appeal below the fold. I've pitched in a couple of bucks but I'm balking at growing a moustache of my own, mainly because I like being married!

[From Jason:]

During Movember (the month formerly known as November) many brothers will be growin a Mo (slang for Moustache) for The Prostate Cancer Charity.


- Prostate cancer is now the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the U.K. with at least one man dying every hour from the disease.

- One man in 11 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime in the U.K.

As perhaps the most clean-shaven man you know, I would like to take up the challenge but I need your support.

A 'tache for cash - if you like.

And I've roped in a little help from my good friend - Mr Bob Dylan!

You can pledge your sponsorship to this great cause by going to, entering my registration number which is 120094 and your credit card details.

Or you can sponsor me by cheque made payable to "The Prostate Cancer Charity" clearly marking the donation as being for my Registration Number: 120094. *

Many thanks

*Please mail cheques to: The Prostate Cancer Charity, ATT: Movember, First Floor, Cambridge House, 100 Cambridge Grove, Hammersmith, London W6 0LE.

All donations are made directly to The Prostate Cancer Charity which will use the money to fund high quality research into the causes, treatment and impact of prostate cancer and to provide support and information to men and their families.