Link: The White House Record Collection

In 1973 Johnny Mercer selected 1,800 pieces of vinyl for the White House with as much Pat Boone as the Beatles. Six years later John Hammond with John Lewis, Kit Rachlis, and Bob Blumenthal created a second set that included the Ramones and Parliament Funkadelic among others.

Jimmy Carter’s grandson became a little obsessed about what happened to all these disks, and tracked them down, eventually having a bit of a listening party in a White House conference room, playing I’m So Bored with the USA while President Obama governed upstairs.

This story is that story and it’s kind of neat. Read it here.

Farewell Chris Bailey

A sad occasion to remember a fine singer and excellent band.

This obit goes out of its way to credit the Saints as groundbreaking because they beat the Sex Pistols and Damned to record release, but omits all of those who came before who weren’t called punks. Seems sloppy, and does not diminish what Bailey and the Saints did.

Albums That Should Exist

One of the first posts here at Rock Remnants was Mike Salfino’s brilliant imagining of the album the Beatles might have made if they hadn’t broken up, based on the best songs from their initial solo albums. You can read that here.

Today I stumbled across a blogpost about a show Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe did for the BBC, playing acoustic covers of (mostly) Everly Brothers tunes as the Beverly Brothers. It’s excellent.

That blogpost is on a now dormant (since 2017) blog called Albums That Should Exist.

Paul, the creator, created scores of elpees out of material that is thematically related but was never released. The blog ended with a third album of Tom Jones duets taken from his TV show, some of which we’ve posted here through the years.

Right now I’m listening to an album of Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello demos.

The albums exist, archived on a Fileshare site called Zippyshare, which seems to be alright. At least my virus software didn’t pick anything up. It’s well worth being careful, but also well worth checking out this ambitious and accomplished project’s website.

Betty Davis Died.

I have to admit, I figured she passed long ago. She’s been very quiet since the 1970s, apart from Light in the Attic’s awesome reissues.

We’ve posted about her before. Here and here. Her work is strong, uncompromising, and beautiful, in a funky way. If you’re not in already, dig in.

Mike Judge made a series of videos about funk artists? Holy cow.

The Beatles, Get Back

Carl Wilson, the rock writer, does a great job here explaining Peter Jackson’s epic (when it comes to the Beatles in January 1969, not civilization) TV show about the Beatles, called Get Back. I finished it last night and it is delightful, insightful, and well worth watching. Read his story here.

Commander George Frayne Died.

The first rock band I saw play live not in a shopping center parking lot was the Allman Brothers Band, opening up for Mountain. But the first band I went to see many times in many cities all over the country was Commander Cody and HIs Lost Planet Airmen.

I listened to a lot of music in high school (doesn’t everyone?), and I loved the Beatles and Stones and Who. I really got into those excellent Jethro Tull records, though mostly Benefit, Yes, New York Dolls, and that first Jefferson Starship album (I mean Have You Seen the Stars Tonight), but whatever, the point is the records I listened to more than the golden age of the Stones and the dawning of J. Geils (big faves too) were those of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen (who I saw open for Jefferson Starship at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium back in ’75).

What I liked about Commander Cody’s band was the way they fit together. Eight players, many instruments, many vocalists. A great guitarist, a rowdy leader, Billy C. Farlow, and most importantly, great songs.

Many of them were covers, most of them kind of obscure, but not always. But the band treated the covers with surprisingly sophisticated respect. Which meant not trying to copy the original, but also not trying to undercut the original with a smirk. List to My Window Faces the South for a bit of pone that is sonically delightful, respectful to the musical setting and yet still keeps it out of the museum. Maybe thank Virginia Creeper, the pedal steel player for that, but I think it’s bigger than that.

Originals like Lost in the Ozone and Seeds and Stems Again Blues (this version with Nicolette Larson on vocals) speak for themselves. They sounded classic the minute they were pressed into vinyl. Which is why they covered Willin’ a few years later, a song of similar majesty but not theirs.

Commander Cody was the center of all this. He got the crew together and with his boisterous pounding piano and over the top vocals on some great novelty sides created hits for a band much more into outre precincts like rockabilly and truck driver songs. Reading his obits reminded me today about how important a force can be. George Frayne was the force that made this band tick, even if it is the collaborative results that are why you should listen to them even today.