News for September 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/30/11

Song Of The Day – “Rex Rhumba” by The Nat Cole Trio

Sure we all know Nat “King” Cole could sing…and lord knows he surely could play piano too. This Cole original highlights the guitarist in the trio, the great Oscar Moore, on a track from “The Capitol Transcriptions” recorded on March 20, 1946. Rounding out the trio was Johnny Miller on bass.

Edited: September 30th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/29/11

Song Of The Day – “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

Whether you know her from her hit, “Pillow Talk,” or as the Godmother of Rap and Hip Hop, Sylvia Robinson’s contribution to the musical landscape runs deep. At the helm of Sugar Hill Records, she discovered and produced early Rap hits like “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugar Hill Gang or this slab of street rhyme. Rest In Peace…your music will live on…

Edited: September 30th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/29/11

Song Of The Day – “Big Barn Bed” by Paul McCartney & Wings

This clip comes from the TV special “James Paul McCartney” which aired on Thanksgiving Day 1973. I can remember rushing to the TV set after dinner to watch the show. The song was from their then-current album, the much under-rated “Red Rose Speedway.” “Leap an armadillo” indeed!

Edited: September 28th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/28/11

Song Of The Day – “Rain And Snow” by Obray Ramsey

The Grateful Dead’s “Cold Rain And Snow” was based on Ramsey’s version of this traditional favorite. Ramsey was a banjo playing extraordinaire who worked with his cousin Byard Ray in the duo Ray and Ramsey. He was also a member of the group White Lightnin’. While hardly a household name, he did have a song, “Ballad Of Obray Ramsey,” named after him by Matthew’s Southern Comfort.

Edited: September 28th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/27/11

Song Of The Day – “Brand New Cadillac” by Vince Taylor And His Playboys

Even though this song was relegated to the B-Side of the single it was released on in 1959, it has grown in stature due to it being covered by The Clash on their “London Calling” album. It has been said that Taylor provided David Bowie with the model for his Ziggy Stardust character. He was also the brother-in-law to Joe Barbera of Hanna-Barbera fame and it was this connection that led him to visit England and form the Playboys.  His Hanna-Barbera to riches to drugs to religion story is also one of intrigue.

Edited: September 27th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/26/11

Song Of The Day – “Surgeon” by St. Vincent

On her latest album, “Strange Mercy,” Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) creates lush soundscapes with sharp, sensual lyrics layering pastoral synths, wiggy grooves and cutting guitars. Her musical past includes stints with Polyphonic Spree, Sufjan Stevens and Glenn Branca and her sound melds hints of Joni Mitchell, Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush and Joanna Newsome into a stew that is wholly her own.

Edited: September 26th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/25/11

Song Of The Day – “Easy To Be Hard” by Lynn Kellogg

Most know this song recorded by Three Dog Night, but here’s the original version from the 1968 Broadway Cast recording of the musical “Hair.” This song plus the other hits from the musical including “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In,” “Good Morning Starshine” and the title song were all written by Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni and James Rado.  I’ve been listening to this record since I was seven years old…way before I knew the meaning of “Sodomy,” “Hashish,” “Colored Spade,” “Walking In Space” and the numerous other titillating-for-their-time songs in this musical. It is indeed part of my musical DNA.

Edited: September 24th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/24/11

Song Of The Day – “I Am A Laser” by Ava Cherry & The Astronettes

David Bowie-philes will recognize this song as an early version of “Scream Like A Baby” from Bowie’s 1980 album “Scary Monsters.” Between the release of “Diamond Dogs” in ’74 and “Young Americans” in ’75, Bowie took his protégé, Ava Cherry, into the studio to record an album. The album, “People From Bad Homes,” was shelved and tied up in litigation with then-Bowie manager, Tony DeFries, and Mainman.  It never received a proper release until recently as a British Import. Listening to it now, you can hear the transition Bowie was making from the Glam Rock of “Diamond Dogs” to Plastic Soul of “Young Americans.” It is well worth seeking out.

Edited: September 23rd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/23/11

Song Of The Day – “The Black Angel’s Death Song” by The Velvet Underground

When this record came out in 1967 it didn’t sell many copies, but it’s been said that everyone who bought it started a band of their own. Such is its influence on the landscape of popular music. I’m not so sure that statement is true since I know someone who bought this record when it was new and he never started a band…however; he was ahead of his time.

Edited: September 23rd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/22/11

Song Of The Day – “Love And Affection” by Joan Armatrading

Armatrading hails from the island of St. Kitts and migrated to the U.K. where she brought her singular brand of soulful folk. This song is the centerpiece of her eponymous third album from 1976. While she didn’t make a huge impact to American audiences until the early 1980s, her true fans hold this song and the record it came from close to their hearts.

Edited: September 22nd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/21/11

Song Of The Day – “Relax” by Das Racist

Music festivals are all about choices. Most of the time, I try to be exactly where I think the best music is also going to be. However, the biggest mistake I made at Pitchfork this year was to leave the stage I was at after tUnE-yArDs’ set to go to see Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Moore was good…but I’m sorry I didn’t stay where I was to see Das Racist. Live and learn…

Edited: September 21st, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/20/11

Song Of The Day – “Anthropology” by Dizzy Gillespie

Recorded February 22, 1946, this be-bop classic written by Diz and Charlie Parker features Gillespie on trumpet, Milt Jackson on vibes, Al Haig on piano, Ray Brown on bass, Bill DeArango on guitar and J.C. Heard on drums. Saxophonist, Don Byas, was a member of the band but not on this track. This music still sounds so alive and cutting edge 65 years after its inception.

Edited: September 20th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/19/11

Song Of The Day – “Chicago” by Benny Goodman Quartet

This performance features George Duvivier on bass, Teddy Wilson on piano and Gene Krupa on drums. Even at this relatively late date for the Quartet, the musicianship is still first rate. There’s also a nice Krupa drum solo tacked on to the end of the video. With half the band from “the neighborhood,” it kind of makes me proud to be living in the suburbs of Chicago!

Edited: September 19th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/18/11

Song Of The Day – “Under The Falling Sky” by Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt covered this Jackson Browne classic on her second album from 1972, the now-classic “Give It Up.” The LP version is a rip-roaring electric take on this track, but here’s a great acoustic version recorded for WMMR Radio in Philadelphia from February 1972. If you’ve never heard the studio version…you should…but this one’s tasty too!

Edited: September 17th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/17/11

Song Of The Day – “Jaan Pehechaan Ho” by Mohammed Rafi

Just saw the 2001 film “Ghost World” which opens with the female protagonist dancing along with this scene as she watches it on TV. The scene is originally from the 1966 Bollywood movie “Gumnaam.” Mohammed Rafi was one of India’s most famous playback singers, a singer whose voice is prerecorded for use in the movies. His voice graced over 70 Bollywood films.

Edited: September 16th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/16/11

Song Of The Day – “Romance” by Wild Flag

They’re a little bit garage rock…they’re a little bit Go-Gos! Wild Flag features Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss from the band Sleater-Kinney, Rebecca Cole from The Minders and Mary Timony from Autoclave. Not exactly the super group that the media has labeled them, but a tight band whose first album was released this week. They’re off to a good start!

Edited: September 16th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/15/11

Song Of The Day – “Ducks On The Wall” by The Kinks

This delightful gem comes from their mid-70s concept album “Soap Opera.” Its muddled tale focuses on the star-making machinery and stardom itself. While the story is hazy at best, we do get a few Kink Klassics. Like the two “Preservation” albums before this one, the Kinks were still in big band story-telling mode. In concert, the album was presented as a stage show.

Edited: September 15th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/14/11

Song Of The Day – “The Acid Song” by Loudon Wainwright III

I first encountered this song on a 1980 radio broadcast starring David Bromberg celebrating the 6th Anniversary of the New York club, The Bottom Line. It was a big hit with me and my college cronies. Turns out Loudon finally got around to releasing the song on his 2003 live album “Career Moves.” The Bottom Line version is rowdier…but this one does the trick.

Edited: September 14th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/13/11

Song Of The Day – “Dislocated” by The League Of Gentlemen

Formed as a dance band in 1980 by King Crimson mastermind Robert Fripp on guitar with Barry Andrews on organ, Jonny Toobad on drums and Sara Lee on bass. Lee played bass for the likes of Robyn Hitchcock, B-52s, Ani DiFranco, Gang Of Four and countless others. The League released one record and did one tour. Here’s a rough and rare clip of them in action.

Edited: September 13th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/12/11

Song Of The Day – “Senator” by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

I may be in the minority, but I think Malkmus’ records with the Jicks are better than the ones he made with Pavement. Nevertheless, he’s been on a roll and this, his fifth album since leaving Pavement, is one of his best. “Mirror Traffic” was produced by Beck. Gone are the long guitar jams of his last album, replaced with more concise, well-written songs.

Edited: September 12th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/11/11

Song Of The Day – “Cry A While” by Bob Dylan

10 Years After…9/11/01 also marked the day that Bob Dylan’s late-period classic “Love And Theft” album was released. I had an advance copy and was happily listening to it on my way to work that day. Little did I know that the whole world would change when I walked through the office doors and found everyone huddled around the TV. My memories of the day are forever linked with this record…”Cry A While…”

Edited: September 11th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/10/11

Song Of The Day – “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer

Certainly the most cutting edge dance track of 1977 and perhaps one of the greatest of all time. The brain child of German producer Giorgio Moroder and the Queen Of Disco herself, it was the first disco hit to use totally synthesized backing tracks paving the wave for techno. Its robotic energy took the sound that fellow Germans Kraftwerk pioneered to the top of the charts.

Edited: September 9th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/9/11

I can remember the shock of new upon hearing Bowie’s “Low” album for the first time in 1977. Sure, his previous record “Station To Station” pointed in this bold new direction, but here side one featured seven vocal song sketches followed by four longer instrumentals on the flip. Bowie had fallen under the spell of Neu!, Kraftwerk and Brian Eno, but the music that came out of it was pure Bowie.

Edited: September 9th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/9/11

Song Of The Day – “Too Much” by Sufjan Stevens

Stevens goes all electronic and orchestral on this stand-out track from his 2010 album, “The Age Of ADZ.” I love it when musicians do it all themselves on their records, and this one is pretty much a one man show. The video accompanying this song captures the manic, claustrophobic feel of the track.

Edited: September 8th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/7/11

Song Of The Day – “The Rest Is Silence/There Is No Me…Without You” by Glen Campbell

Glen taps into his inner Beatles and Beach Boys on this track from his latest album, “Ghost On The Canvas.” The record is being marketed as his last record ever due to his illness with Alzheimer’s disease. If it is, he’s going out on a high. Check out the guitar solo on this one, eerily close to “Something” by The Beatles.

Edited: September 7th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/6/11

Song Of The Day – “A New Day Yesterday” by Jethro Tull

What a live powerhouse they were…right up there with Led Zep in the day, although most Zep heads would never admit it. Anderson was a far more dynamic leading man than Robert Plant, and a far more accomplished musician. Here’s a live version of a song originally from the band’s second and best album, “Stand Up.”

Edited: September 6th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/5/11

Song Of The Day – “Diga Diga Doo” by The Harlem Footwarmers

On this record, they were billed as the Harlem Footwarmers. In reality they were The Duke Ellington Orchestra. Whatever you called them in 1928, the fact remains they were the hottest band around featuring the great Barney Bigard on clarinet, Jabbo Smith on trumpet and Johnny Hodges on saxophone. Diga Diga this!

Edited: September 5th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/4/11

Song Of The Day – “All By Myself” by Johnny Burnette Trio

I first discovered this song in the late 1970s by way of Robert Gordon’s excellent cover version. A few years later I was introduced to the off-the-tracks rockabilly excitement of the 1956 original featuring Johnny on guitar and vocal, Dorsey Burnette on slap bass, Paul Burlison on guitar and Buddy Harman Jr. on drums.

Edited: September 4th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/3/11

Song Of the Day – “The Crunge” by Led Zeppelin

My Rhino Records calendar proclaims that this month is Zeptember! Who am I to argue? Here we have the mighty Zep tapping into their inner James Brown with aplomb on this ultra-funky workout from their 1973 album “Houses Of The Holy.” “Where’s that confounded bridge?,” indeed!

Edited: September 3rd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/2/11

Song Of The Day – “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” by Randy Newman

This classic originally from his 1968 debut album is miles ahead of the stuff he’s been writing for Disney over the last 20 years. A guy’s gotta make money…and the kiddies do like those songs however trite they may be. There was a time when ol’ Randy was an acerbic, witty and keen observer — like in this often-covered song.

Edited: September 2nd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/1/11

Song Of The Day – “Allergic To Love” by Carl Perkins and NRBQ

On the surface it seemed an unlikely pairing. Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Carl Perkins teams with “the world’s greatest bar band,” NRBQ, at the start of their illustrious career. At the time, NRBQ really were unknown with only one album under their belt. Turns out this record was a flop, but over the years it has gained classic status.

Edited: September 1st, 2011