News for September 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Someday Baby” by Merle Saunders, Jerry Garcia, John Kahn & Bill Vitt
Last week I posted a deservedly less than positive Song Of The Day critiquing the music from the Dead’s 18-CD “Spring 1990” box set…and I heard plenty about my comments from lots of my Deadhead friends. So, I thought I’d make it up to them with some pre-Jerry Garcia Band, JGB from the Keystone in San Francisco. Back in 1973, Jerry Garcia and Merle Saunders could be found multiple nights at the club playing low-key gigs. It was an opportunity for Garcia to stretch out musically, playing mostly covers with musicians other than The Grateful Dead. On nights when he wasn’t on the road with The Dead or playing at The Keystone with Merle, he would also show up at the club with his other band, the equally great Bluegrass unit, “Old And In The Way.” Here we have the boys stretching out on a high-energy Lightning Hopkins original, from the newly released 4-CD box set called “Keystone Companions” featuring the complete 1973 Keystone recordings. If you want to hear a fully-engaged Jerry Garcia, look no further than these recordings!
Edited: September 30th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Clique” by GOOD Music featuring Kanye West, Jay-Z and Big Sean
Kanye West is a mutha-fucken’ “G” – that’s not “G” as in Gangsta, by the way, that’s “G” as in GENIUS. Think what you may about Kanye’s antics, and he’s always full of surprises, but you can’t touch him when it comes to creating some of the greatest Hip Hop records…ever! Truth be told, the point Kanye was making at the Grammy Awards when he interrupted Taylor Swift was a valid one. Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” was the best video of that particular year, certainly better than the ones that were receiving the awards, and with the passage of time the video has become one of the most iconic music videos of all time. It was the bone-headed way he chose to handle himself that night that caused him problems. The “GOOD” of GOOD Music stands for “Getting Out Our Dreams” and it is also Kanye’s record label. The new album called “Cruel Summer” features many of the artists from the label’s roster including John Legend, Kid Cudi, Common, Pusha T, plus some of his other high-profile friends. This track features Kanye, Jay-Z and Big Sean.
Edited: September 29th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Baby Hold On” by Eddie Money
This ex-NYC cop burst onto the music scene in 1977 with his own brand of meat ’n’ potatoes rock that fit perfectly into FM radio formats of the day. It was rock impresario, Bill Graham, who signed the former Eddie Mahoney to his management company and secured him a record deal with Columbia Records resulting in a debut album that included this smash hit and its massive follow-up, “Two Tickets To Paradise.” Money soon fell into the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and became addicted to drugs negatively impacting his career and landing him into rehab. Upon cleaning up his act in the mid-1980s, he scored again with the duet “Take Me Home Tonight” featuring ex-Ronette, Ronnie Spector on vocals. He has also appeared in several TV sitcoms and can now be seen hawking insurance for Geico.
Edited: September 28th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Loser” by Grateful Dead
The latest mammoth box from the Grateful Dead archives is “Spring 1990” featuring 18 discs spanning six full shows between March and April 1990. If you believe the powers that be at Dead.net, the Spring 1990 tour was “consistently great, where every show is excellent, not a dud in the bunch.” Now I saw my share of Dead shows and have pretty much purchased everything Dead.net has foisted in my direction, including last year’s exceptional 73 CD “Europe ‘72” box set, but for this one, I didn’t even nibble. I saw them in 1990 and like most of the shows from the 1990s; Jerry was phoning it in from la-la land while Brent Mydland attempted to take up the slack, failing miserably. So when the archive decided to release a more manageably priced 2-CD retail edition called “Spring 1990 – So Glad You Made It,” I decided to give it a try, figuring that I’d get the best performances from the big box. If that is the case, the box set must be one dismal listening experience. Even at a modest two discs, this set exemplifies all that was wrong with the Dead circa 1990: Jerry’s ravaged voice is buried in the mix to cover its shortcomings, Mydland’s also ravaged vocals supporting Jerry’s and his endless noodling on an annoying electronic keyboard supposedly for that “spacey feel,” the dual drumming of Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman plodding away and dragging every song down to a crawl, Weir at his most annoying especially on the “ad lib” vocals that end many of his songs, Phil Lesh and his sub-sonic bass blasts strategically placed to stir the crowd, and a host of cover tunes rather than the material that made them legends in the first place. Sure, Jerry could still play guitar and he shines on a few of the tracks, including this one and “Bird Song,” but this sad state of affairs makes me feel sorry for those who parted with their hard-earned $200.00 to buy the full set…
Edited: September 27th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “All Apologies” by Nirvana
I don’t know how many people realized what we had with Kurt Cobain when he was alive…much less himself…but his contributions to music have grown enormously with the passage of time. No time to write today…it’s Yom Kippur and that would be considered work. So I will just leave you with “All Apologies” until tomorrow when Song Of The Day resumes. “All Apologies” “All Apologies” “All Apologies” “All Apologies” and then some…
Edited: September 26th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I’m Sorry” by Brenda Lee
Well, it is Yom Kippur…and what better way to atone for sins than to apologize with a little help from Little Miss Dynamite and her 1960 smash hit. Brenda Lee was 15 years old when she recorded the song and Decca Records held back the release of the single because they thought she was too young to be sorry for, well, anything. When it was finally released on a single, it was the flip-side to the up-tempo hit “That’s All You Gotta Do” until DJs flipped the record over and landed it directly on the top of the charts. So, there you have it…a deeply felt “I’m Sorry.”
Edited: September 25th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Labrador” by Aimee Mann
Aimee Man has been creating articulate character sketches in song since the 1980s when she was MTV-marketed as part of the group ‘Til Tuesday and could regularly be seen (heavily made up) singing “Voices Carry” sandwiched between Milli Vanilli and Culture Club videos. After the demise of ‘Til Tuesday, Mann set out on a solo career making some of the purest pop for now people, and her latest album, “Charmer” deftly continues this trend with aplomb After ‘Til Tuesday, she attained greater fame when her song “Save Me” from the film “Magnolia” was nominated for a Grammy and Academy Award in 1998. After numerous setbacks with major record labels, she finally launched her own Superego label in 1999 and began self-releasing records. She’s essentially been making the same record over and over again (albeit a great one) featuring brainy lyrics that dissect slices of life into sharp tales of love and love lost, melded to her keen sense of hummable melody. “Labrador” turns her attentions to devotion and relationships, and the song’s video recreates the “Voices Carry” video shot for shot in a new context. She is currently touring behind “Charmer” and working on bringing her 2005 concept album about a boxer called “The Forgotten Arm” to the stage.
Edited: September 24th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “All Er Nothin’” from the Original Soundtrack to “Oklahoma!”
The Broadway version of “Oklahoma!” opened in 1943 and ran 2, 212 performances. With music by Richard Rodgers and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein III, the Pulitzer Prize-winning score gave us the standards “Oh What A Beautiful Mornin’,” “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “(Everything’s Up To Date In) Kansas City,” “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top,” “The Farmer And The Cowman” and the hit title song. The 1955 Academy Award-winning film version starred Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, Gloria Grahame, Gene Nelson, Eddie Albert and Charlotte Greenwood. Paul Newman, James Dean and Joanne Woodward all screen-tested for the film and were denied parts. Here we have a Gene Nelson (as Will Parker)-Gloria Grahame (as Aldo Annie) duet with a great string arrangement and some of the most clever lyrics in the entire musical, opening the door to a sadly, by-gone era of articulate songwriting.
Edited: September 23rd, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Aurora” by Oregon
Orgeon is a progressive Jazz quartet that created a singular sound all of their own by melding a then New Age sensibility (before New Age was a genre) with Indian sensibilities. Featuring phenomenal musicianship courtesy of the world-class talents of Ralph Towner on guitar, Paul McCandless on reeds, Glen Moore on piano and the late, great Colin Walcott on the sitar, the group formed in 1971 and released a series of records for the Vanguard label throughout the 1970s. This track is from their 1973 second album called “Distant Hills.” Their history goes back as far as 1960 when Towner and Moore attended the University of Oregon. By 1969, they were both backing Tim Hardin who introduced them to The Paul Winter Consort. The following year, they joined The Paul Winter Consort, who is best known for their George Martin-produced “Icarus” record, and included amongst its ranks Walcott and McCandless. I was fortunate to see the original lineup of Oregon in concert in Washington DC in 1983. At the time they had rejoined forces after a five year layoff and were touring behind their first album on the ECM record label. While touring behind the 1984 follow-up release, “The Crossing,” Colin Wolcott was killed in a car accident in Germany. The group has carried on and they released an album this year.
Edited: September 22nd, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Trying” by Dwight Yoakam
It’s been seven years since Dwight Yoakam’s last album of original material and although time has moved on, it has seemingly stood still when it comes to this album…and that, of course, is a good thing. Yoakam has been treading the line between honky-tonk country and roots rock ‘n’ roll for over 30 years and his approach and sound on the 12 sturdy tracks of “3 Pears” is chock full of the rockin’ soul and painful ache we’ve come to love him for. It was a meeting with Beck Hanson (aka Beck) that got him back into the recording studio in the first place, and Beck turns up here as producer of two tracks. Elsewhere, Kid Rock collaborates on the album’s opener, “Take Hold Of My Heart,” a song that Yoakam began writing 19 years ago and sounds like an outtake from Bruce Springsteen’s “The River.” And no Yoakam album would be complete without at least one full-on honky-tonk cover, and “3 Pears’” offering is the Joe Maphis classic “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke” which is probably better known to rock fans by the Flying Burrito Brothers recording. Elsewhere dashes of horn flourishes provide a soulful bed for “It’s Never Alright” to sleep in, Springsteen-ish bells light up the title track and Beatle-esque touches abound on “Long Way To Go,” adding up to a welcome return for Yoakam on “3 Pairs.”
Edited: September 22nd, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Scarlet Town” by Bob Dylan
I’ve spent a little time with the new Dylan album and while many of the songs still need to get under my skin both lyrically and musically, I’m here to say that It would be hard to justify the 5-Star accolades that are being heaped upon the record especially when there are three songs, encompassing close to 30 minutes of music, that are far less than compelling. Sure some of the tracks here are good including this one, the old-timey “Duquesne Whistle” (co-written with Jerry Garcia collaborator Robert Hunter), the rocking “Narrow Way,” the ballad “Soon After Midnight,” the sinister “Pay In Blood” and the long violent parable “Tin Angel” all featuring some of Dylan’s most violent and at times funniest lyrics…and not a note of harmonica to be found…anywhere. It is a dark album indeed, but I just don’t see how the record can be getting 5-star reviews when the rest of the record is stuffed with overlong songs that kind of meander along, like the tedious 14-minute title track which is a fictional account of the Titanic disaster, “Early Roman Kings” that contains laugh-out-loud lyrical couplets but comes musically wrapped in a rehash of Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” and “Roll On John” a plodding tribute to John Lennon 32 years after his death. Dylan is in fine late-period growl here and the band is mostly made up of his top-notch touring unit, including the venerable Tony Garnier on bass, George G. Receli on drums, Donnie Herron on steel guitar, banjo, violin and mandolin, Stu Kimball on guitar, Dave Hidalgo (of Los Lobos) on guitar, accordion and violin, and one of Dylan’s greatest guitar foils, Charlie Sexton on guitar. With sturdy production courtesy of Jack Frost (Dylan) himself, it’s great to see Dylan still at it after all these years, and this record is a big improvement over his last one. Five stars? Hardly…perhaps three!
Edited: September 20th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” by Judy Collins
This tune, one of Collins’ greatest recordings and the title track from her 1968 album, wasn’t written by or for Collins to record. The song was written by the late, great Sandy Denny who recorded a demo of it in 1967. Shortly thereafter, Denny joined forces with The Strawbs who had a go at the song on their “All Our Own Work” album which was recorded in 1967 but not officially released in the U.S. until 1973. Judy Collins heard Denny’s original demo in 1967 and recorded and released it as the B-side to her smash hit single “Both Sides Now.” She then made that recording the title track to her classic album “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” whose musicians included Stephen Stills (guitar), James Burton (guitar), Buddy Emmons (pedal steel), Van Dyke Parks (piano), Chris Ethridge (bass) and drummer/mother murderer Jim Gordon. Sandy Denny then took the song with her when she joined Fairport Convention where it was recorded for their 1969 album “Unhalfbricking” becoming the group’s signature tune. Others who have committed this song to wax include Nana Mouskouri, 10,000 Maniacs, Cat Power, Charlie Louvin, Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet, Nina Simone and many others.
Edited: September 19th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Foreigner Suite” by Cat Stevens
Here’s a rare live version of Cat Stevens’ “Foreigner Suite” performed in its entirety for ABC TV’s “In Concert.” By 1973, Stevens was coming off a very successful run of records including “Mona Bone Jakon,” “Tea For The Tillerman,” “Teaser And The Firecat” and “Catch Bull At Four,” that were all recorded with pretty much the same band and producer. The release of “Foreigner” found Stevens jettisoning much of his musicians, branching out musically with this multi-section extended piece, turning his attention toward spiritual matters lyrically and taking on the production chores for himself. Musically, the suite featured many different sections melded together into a whole and was much in the same vein as fellow 1973 releases, “Band On The Run” by Paul McCartney and “A Passion Play” by Jethro Tull. While “Foreigner” was much maligned upon its release and sold poorly, Stevens bounced back with his follow up record “Buddha And The Chocolate Box.” In 2009, Stevens sued Coldplay for plagiarizing the melody of the final segment of “Foreigner Suite” with their song “Viva La Vida.”
Edited: September 18th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel
This song, from Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” album, was written in the same house on Blue Jay Way in Los Angeles that George Harrison rented, and named a Beatles’ song after. The percussive track was formed by recordings of Paul and Art slapping their thighs while others thumped on a piano bench, dropped bundled drum sticks in an echo-laden room and strummed guitars with slackened strings. From this, producer Roy Halee created the musical bed for one of Simon and Garfunkel’s most joyous and catchy songs. The song was not a paean to an elusive love named Cecilia, but rather the Cecilia of this song was the patron saint of music in the Catholic tradition and the song was about the trials and travails of songwriting. Simon would revisit St. Cecelia again in his song “The Coast” from his 1990 “The Rhythm Of The Saints” album with the lyric “A family of musicians took shelter for the night in a little harbor church of St. Cecelia.”
Edited: September 17th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “You Are Woman (I Am Man)” by Barbra Streisand and Omar Sharif
Don’t ask me why I came up with this song for today, but here it is. Perhaps it was the visit with my 82 year old mother last night in New Jersey. She and my father played the “Funny Girl” Soundtrack, where this song is from, non-stop while I was growing up. Maybe it was watching the season premiere of “Boardwalk Empire” this evening which takes place during the roaring twenties, much like the story of Fanny Brice and Nicky Arnstein whom Streisand and Sharif portray in the movie and this clip. Or maybe it was just the wine I had tonight with my holiday dinner. Whatever the reason behind the pick, this track is one of the few instances where Streisand’s shtick truly works, and “Funny Girl” is one of the classic film musicals of the 1960s.
Edited: September 16th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Ruin” by Cat Power
I don’t know what it is about Charlyn Marie Marshall, the artist we now know as Cat Power. Every music rag I pick up amply pours the accolades on like maple syrup and, of course, I feel the need to eat it up. As a result, I’ve purchased several of her records and find that, while they are indeed pleasant, there’s really nothing there that keeps me coming back for more. So when I started reading how her brand new record, “Sun,” was her best since, well, her last one, the critically acclaimed “The Greatest,” I knee-jerked an ordered myself up a copy from Amazon. So once again I find myself the proud owner of another Cat Power record that I probably won’t come back to once the hype wears off. Sure, there are a handful of good songs here, including the one I’ve chosen for today, “Peace And Love,” “Manhattan” and “3-6-9,” but I just don’t see myself reaching for this record in six months. Such is the problem when voracious music fans like me gobble up every printed word about new records and then feel the need to hear them. Sure, I’ve got Spotify, but I can’t use it at work, so my main listening time occurs in the car to and from work where CDs and MP3s still reign supreme. I’m going to make a pledge to keep on playing this record and wait for that Chan Marshall magic to smack me in the head…or better yet maybe I should smack myself in the head for buying this record in the first place…
Edited: September 15th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Comfortable (Flyin’ Scotsman) by Ian Hunter & The Rant Band
Bob Dylan isn’t the only artist supposedly having a late career renaissance. Over the last several years, septuagenarian, Ian Hunter, has put out a succession of terrific records packed with full-on Mott rockers complete with the Dylanesque wordplay he’s come to be known for. Now, let me digress a minute because it seems that in all of the rock rags I read, critics feel the need to refer to the 70-year-old rocker set as “septuagenarians.” While the term is correctly used, I just find it a hoot that critics can’t find anything more interesting to say about an artist than to fill in precious column inches with the fact they they are now septuagenarians. Now that I’ve got that off of my chest, I can now join the ranks of those critics… Anywho, part of the reason for Hunter’s run of great records is the pliant backing supplied by the Rant Band featuring James Mastro (of Bongos fame) on guitar, Steve Holley (Elton John, Paul McCartney) on drums, Paul Page on bass, Mark Bosch on guitar, Andy Burton (Tiny Lights) on piano, Mark Rivera on sax and Andy York (Jason & The Scorchers) on backing vocals. Together they make a MOTTly sound especially on this track from Hunter’s brand new album “When I’m President.” This song would have sonically fit comfortably on the 1974 album “The Hoople” comin’ in on the heels of “The Golden Age Of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
Edited: September 14th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Andy’s Chest” by Lou Reed
“Swoop, swoop, oh baby rock, rock…” Only early ‘70s radio would play a song with blatant references to giving head and not have a problem with the lyrical content. Such was the atmosphere that welcomed Lou Reed’s second solo record after leaving the Velvet Underground and his biggest hit “Walk On The Wild Side.” If Lou standing on the back cover with a huge boner in his pants wasn’t enough, fans were treated to his usual lyrical fare – transvestites, drug use, Andy Warhol, frequent hookups and, or course, homosexuality. The album was produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson who had been profoundly influenced by The Velvet Underground and had regularly covered several of their songs in their live sets. In fact, this song was originally a Velvet Underground outtake from 1969 sessions that went unreleased until the mid-1980s Velvet Underground compilation albums “VU” and “Another View.” Sundazed Records will be issuing a box set of all of the Velvet Underground vinyl albums this fall that is supposed to include the great lost 1969 Velvets album. “Transformer” came out in 1972, the same year as Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” album, and in my estimation it has stood the test of time much better. With that said, it was Bowie’s golden production touch (and background vocals on this track) that revived Reed’s career, giving him his biggest album and hit. Bowie would go on to resuscitate the careers of Mott The Hoople and Iggy Pop from here, while Reed continues to release records on his own.
Edited: September 13th, 2012
Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – “Would That Not Be Nice” by Divine Fits
MORE DIVINE FITS! Yesterday I chose a song from this album featuring Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade on lead vocals. Today’s song features Spoon lead singer, Britt Daniels taking the lead spot on a song that has the ghosts of INXS flying all around the mix. Divine Fits released their debut album “A Thing Called Divine Fits” last week and I was intrigued because of the involvement of Britt Daniels. If there’s a 1980s revival going on, and I think there is, then Divine Fits are at the forefront with an album featuring tightly wound songs, infectious dance rhythms, modern rock synths and none of the dated ‘80s production and dreaded drum sounds that drag down much of what was recorded back in the day. This could very well be one of the best records I’ve heard all year…
Edited: September 12th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Baby Get Worse” by Divine Fits
When I first started playing Divine Fits’ debut album, “A Thing Called Divine Fits,” I immediately gravitated to the songs that featured Britt Daniels on lead vocals. Daniels formed the band with Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks while on hiatus from his band Spoon. In fact, it was Britt Daniels and the Spoon connection that led me to this album in the first place. What I found was that this record is chock full of really good glam-infused tunes written by each band member with a heaping helping of ‘80s synth-pop and punk rock thrown in for good measure. This track, featuring Dan Boeckner on lead vocals, immediately caught me off guard and insinuated itself into my cranium. It is firmly on “repeat” mode in my iPod.
Edited: September 11th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “The Plank” by The Devil Makes Three
I enjoy going to music festivals even at my advanced age (for festivals) of 51 years old. Sure there’s lots of crap you’ve got to put up with…audience surges…crowd surfers…extreme weather…lethal body odor…but discovering music you would have never heard otherwise far outweighs the aforementioned disadvantages of putting yourself out there for three days at a clip. Such was the case at Lollapalooza this past summer when early on the Sunday schedule I walked up to the stage where Devil Makes Three’s set was already in progress. The trio from Santa Cruz, California of guitarist/vocalist Pete Bernhardt, banjo, vocalist and guitarist Cooper McBean and stand-up bass and vocalist Lucia Turino were already well into their set of self-penned tunes that melded bluegrass, folk, country and blues together into a roots brew that was a breath of fresh air against the steady din of electronica and metal that most of the Lolla acts offered. That’s not to say that Lollapalooza didn’t offer its share of great moments and music this summer, it’s just that it was nice to see an acoustic trio with well written songs getting some early afternoon appreciation. This song is the lead track on the group’s 2002 self-titled debut album. They’ve since released three more long players, including their latest which is a live album. In addition, Pete Bernhardt has released two solo records.
Edited: September 10th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Pay Me My Money Down” by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Not the Seeger Sessions Band, who Bruce fronted for his recording and subsequent tour, but a more recent version backed by The E Street Band from the “Wrecking Ball” tour. One of the many highlights of last night’s show shined a bright light on The E Street Band’s expanded horn section featuring Clarence Clemons’ nephew (and new Springsteen foil) Jake Clemons. While this song was originally a Negro slave song, it was made famous by The Weavers, of whom Pete Seeger was a member. It was later popularized by The Kingston Trio. It is a perfect song for Springsteen to include in his show since it fits in to the message of his latest album, but gives fans a break from some of the heavy handed “Wrecking Ball” tracks on display. Here, the E Streeters introduce a little New Orleans flair to their version.
Edited: September 9th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Working On The Highway” by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
I just returned from my first E Street Band show in well over 15 years and the first Bruce Springsteen show in six. The last time I saw Springsteen was with the Seeger Sessions Band in 2006, and it was one of the best Bruce concerts I’ve ever seen. With a show tonight that included such nuggets as “Because The Night,” “Pay Me My Money Down,” “The E Street Shuffle,” “The Ties That Bind,” “Rosalita,” “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” “No Surrender” and this song, plus the requisite concert staples of “Badlands,” “Born To Run,” “Dancing In The Dark,” “Promised Land,” Darkness On The Edge Of Town,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” “Thunder Road” and more, it made it easy to forgive The Boss for making us endure a clutch of songs from his relatively lame “Wrecking Ball” collection. Add special guests Eddie Vedder and Tom Morello and you’ve got one heck of a show. Such is the stuff of Bruce concerts 2012… and he rocked out the mighty Wrigley Field 110% for over three hours at a clip.
Edited: September 9th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Reggaejunkiejew” by Ween
MORE WEEN! This is the 2003 “All Request Live” version of a song originally released on the 1994 “Pure Guava” record by Ween. Before anyone gets too excited, I’m a Jew and so is Aaron Freeman (aka Gene Ween), so don’t get it in your head that this track is slamming Jews, Rastas or even junkies. It’s just Ween, well, being Ween. The band has musically touched on its Jewishness before with the song “I Can’t Put My Finger On It” from the album “Chocolate And Cheese” that usually features an extended Klezmer intro in concert. And Freeman has been getting back in touch with his Jewish roots by studying to be a Bar Mitzvah. The 1994 “Pure Guava” version of this song is a bedroom recording that hangs on its choppy bass line with lots of electronics and modified vocals, as was the stoner Ween tradition of the day. This version is far more freewheeling in its execution and features some stunning shredding courtesy of Mickey Melchiondo (aka Dean Ween). The “All Request Live” record was recorded live in the studio and broadcast over the internet in 2003, a novelty for the time. All of the songs included on the broadcast and record were requested by fans.
Edited: September 7th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Haunts Of Ancient Peace” by Van Morrison
Here we have one of Van Morrison’s most soulful pieces of music, originally from one of his most underrated albums. “Common One” was released in 1980 and features six deeply moving extended jazz meditations that hawked back to Morrison’s classic “Astral Weeks” album in sound and texture. However, unlike “Astral Weeks,” this record’s release was met with unanimous derision from the critics who didn’t understand the literary and jazz underpinnings of the music and found it ponderous and boring. While the record does lack the kind of immediacy that grabs you on the first listen, it does reap generous rewards upon further listening. The title of this song was named from a 1902 book by Alfred Austin (Poet Laureate 1896-1912). This version features the “Common One” band and was recorded at Montreux before the album’s release. The personnel on this performance includes new band members Mark Isham on trumpet, John Allair on organ and synthesizer, Pee Wee Ellis on saxophones and Peter Van Hooke on drums, along with Jeff Labes on piano, John Platania on guitar, David Hayes on bass and Dahaud Shaar on percussion, who were all members of Morrison’s Caledonia Soul Orchestra.
Edited: September 6th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Don’t Make Promises” by Tim Hardin
While Tim Hardin was a terrific singer possessing a distinctive vibrato-infused style, he was better known as the gifted songwriter who wrote the classics “If I Were A Carpenter” and “Reason To Believe.” While both songs were covered often by many artists, one of his most covered songs was this lesser known gem. “Don’t Make Promises” was the lead song on Hardin’s first record, “Tim Hardin 1,” and was covered by a myriad of artists including Joan Baez, Bobby Darin, The Kingston Trio, Helen Reddy, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, Rick Nelson, Marianne Faithful, The Beau Brummels, Three Dog Night, Dave Alvin and Paul Weller. As a stage performer, Hardin was erratic at best as illustrated by his appearance at Woodstock where he and his performance were disheveled due to his drug addiction. It’s been reported that Hardin became addicted to heroin while serving in Viet Nam in the early 1960s, which set him up on inevitable road that led to his death from an overdose in 1980. During the latter part of his career, Hardin gave up on writing original songs and focused on covering old rock and roll tunes, today his modest canon or originals is ripe for rediscovery.
Edited: September 5th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “The Trouble With Candyhands” by Deerhoof
Emanating from San Francisco (Greg Saunier & John Dieterich) by way of Japan (Satomi Matsuzaki), Deerhoof have released 12 albums of unpredictable music with a sound that would have made Yoko Ono proud and John Lennon jump for joy. It has finally come to pass that the ingredients of Yoko Ono’s recordings circa “Double Fantasy” that were championed by John Lennon have somewhat reached the mainstream with Deerhoof and their brand new release “Breakup Song.” Part electro-crunch, part sing-song melodies, part twee vocals and completely infectious in the dance rhythm department, “The Trouble With Candyhands” is a prime example of this band’s unique and irresistible sound.
Edited: September 4th, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Duquesne Whistle” by Bob Dylan
In a little over a week, the world will be graced with Bob Dylan’s 35th studio album. While his croak is (and always was) an acquired taste, I love the old-timey feel of the records he’s released in the last decade, and judging by this track the new record should musically be in the same vein. The “Tempest” album will release on 9/11, which was the release date of his “Love And Theft” album in 2001. While Dylan’s penchant for “borrowing” has led some to believe he is creatively spent, his “borrowing” has been a significant trait of the folk tradition from whence he came. The definition of Duquesne is: “A Suffren class frigate of the French Navy, designed to protect a fleet against air threats, surface ships, submarines, and, to a lesser extent, provide fire power against land objectives. She is the sister-ship of the Suffren.” I’m not exactly sure what to make of the video that accompanies this song…
Edited: September 3rd, 2012
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Summer Highland Falls” by Billy Joel
I revisited the “Turnstiles” album by Billy Joel today. It was the first time I’ve given the record a spin in at least a decade and it fit me like a glove. I often marvel at how music has the power to bring you right back to what you were doing when you first experienced it. As I listened to the record, memories of my awkward 15 year old self came rushing back and instead of remembering the misery of being that age, it made me feel good. My friend, Gary Theroux, used to always say that “Nostalgia is the past with the pain removed” as we went about the business of putting together music collections for Reader’s Digest, and his words never rang truer. Listening to “Turnstiles” brought back memories of some of the other records I was listening to at the time: Bruce Springsteen “Born To Run,” David Bowie “STATIONTOSTATION,” Wings “Venus And Mars,” Patti Smith “Horses,” Stevie Wonder “Songs In The Key Of Life,” Bob Dylan “Desire,” Genesis “Trick Of The Tale,” Gentle Giant “Free Hand,” Joni Mitchell “Hejira,” Tom Waits “Small Change,” Led Zeppelin “Presence,” ELO “New World Record,” Steve Miller Band “Fly Like An Eagle,” Steely Dan “The Royal Scam,” Al Stewart “The Year Of The Cat,” Boz Scaggs “Silk Degrees,” 10cc “How Dare You,” Lou Reed “Coney Island Baby” – the list goes on and on. I still harbor a deep emotional connection with most of these records. What are your favorites from the class of 1975-76?
Edited: September 2nd, 2012
Encore Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Voice Poetry” by Ornette Coleman
Back in 1978, Ornette Coleman formed his first double trio, “Prime Time,” and began releasing records on his own Texas-based record label called Artist House Records. “Body Meta” was recorded in 1976 and featured Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass, Charles Ellerbee and Bern Nix on guitars, and Ronald Shannon Jackson and his son Denardo Coleman on drums. The short-lived label also released terrific and challenging records by James “Blood” Ulmer and Waymon Reed. While by no means top 40 music, the record was one of Coleman’s easier to listen to records providing a good entry point for those into discovering more about him and his Harmolodic sound. (Original Post Date: 1/25/11)
Edited: September 1st, 2012