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.
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.
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.
I found a story about the photoshoot that led to the album cover and a bunch of other shots. The story irritated me. It claimed that the topless photos the Slits generated out of the shoot were subverting the male gaze because of their intentions, which may well have been pure, but based on the quotes everyone involved knew that topless images, even those slathered in mud, are going to read as more sexualized than clothed pictures. To claim otherwise doesn’t pass the smell test. That story was a dead end.
But the site, Proxy Music, is apparently about the intersection of visuals and music and I quickly found this excellent story about William Eggleston’s photos being used for album covers. I have to say that I knew some of these covers, didn’t know many, and didn’t connect those I knew to Eggleston, one of the masters of photography in the second half of the 20th century.
In 1967 I turned 11, and my aunt Dottie’s present was a copy of The Rolling Stones Between the Buttons.
It may be my greatest present ever, though I’m sure that’s a reckless statement. I’ve been gifted a lot, thank you totally.
The thing about Between the Buttons is it is not a Rolling Stones blues record. Though the blues are played, for sure. I’m terrible at these historical things, but the record seems to represent the apotheosis of Brian Jones. His influence is everywhere, and the music benefits from odd instrumentation and challenging harmonies.
It’s not like the 12×5 Stones were underachievers, but in many ways the Between the Buttons cuts are wilder and more creative than the more extravagant Beatles experiments at the same time. The Stones didn’t ever, I think, get totally absurd in their posture (even considering Gomper), while the Beatles got pretty mental in their days. In any case, Between the Buttons is an album of pop songs, some influenced by psychedelic experiences and styles of the time.
When I decided to write about this I had an “neglected elpee” angle, but everybody gives it five stars. Everyone considers Between the Button a masterpiece. So what I have to share are some clips, in case you didn’t know about masterpiece it is (it wasn’t really conceived as an album).
My two cents. These Stones are Brian Jones Stones. This is incredible music, orchestration, songs. The Stones went from great bluesimitators to pop meisters like the Beatles and the Kinks. Brian Jones was in charge of that.
We always think of Jagger and Richard, but this was a band that was led by Brian Jones, in the first part, and Mick Taylor in the classic part. And when Ron Wood came in the live magic didn’t end, but the songwriting and arrangements did.
Between the Buttons may be the high mark of the Brian Jones era. It’s a high mark indeed.
And, that kicked my brain cells back to Robbie Robertson’s eponymously named debut album which is a killer in my meager opinion.
Employing Peter Gabriel and U2 and the Bodeans among others to help with instruments and especially vocals, the album really goes all over the map musically, with each song a little stronger than the cut before.
This one, Somewhere Down the Crazy River is clearly the one that tripped the Little Willie John wires:
But, this song, Hell’s Half Acre is as driving and kickass a rocker as ever lived. I can actually leave it in a loop for five or six playings on my phone it is so good and visceral.
Here is hoping everyone out there has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday!
Every week on my show on FNTSY (the Tout Wars Hour, 9-11 PM, ET every Thursday night he plugged shamelessly) I ask my special guest to reveal a favorite album, movie, TV show, athlete to watch, and food and the list, as Fantasy now spreads generations, is big fun.
There are wonderful surprises like Tim McLeod loving Sunburst Finish by Be Bop Deluxe and Eno Sarris, being a fan of his namesake’s Taking Tiger Mountain by Storm.
A couple of weeks ago my special guest was Jeff Zimmerman, and when I suggested that basic script for the show that week I also noted that during our final five minute segment we do indeed review those pop items like players we like to watch and music we like to listen to.
Jeff warned me in advance that he was not that much of a music person, and I responded no problem, and there must be a Beatles or Stones or some kind of album or song in his head somewhere he liked and just do the best you can.
But, never, ever, ever, did I expect his actual entry to the list which is a blue grass cover of The Wall performed by Luther Wright and the Wrongs.
So, I went digging a little, and found the album, and during my guitar lesson that same week I asked my friend and mentor Steve Gibson if he knew about Luther and his band’s treatment of the Floyd.
Steve did not know The Wall specifically, but he was more than hep to Nashville musicians gathering and deconstructing famous albums and bands in a phenomenon known as “pick on,” as in “pick on Aerosmith” or “pick on AC/DC.”
I cannot say that this revisionism is totally my cup of tea as much as I like both the Floyd and blue grass. Clearly these guys are knockout musicians, but I think I actually prefer to hear them cover the Carters and Irish jigs, but just discovering this subculture of music was a kick and a half.
This is Luther’s treatment of my favorite tune from the Floyd album. I still prefer David Gilmour’s chorusy guitar ripping through, but this is still pretty good.
When it comes to pissing matches and irreconcilable pluralism, no one does it better than Rolling Stone magazine.
They decided to make a list of the 40 best punk rock albums of all time. But, they limited each band to one elpee. While I can see the reason for the limitation, I think having decided upon it, they should have realized that calling it the Top 40 Punk Albums of All Time was a falsehood.
Also, should compilation records qualify? Singles Going Steady was almost contemporaneous, sort of, but the Bikini Kill singles album came out way later. Terminal Tower was kind of Pere Ubu’s Kinks Kronikles, but does that make it chartworthy?
Might not be a bad idea for us to play around with our own Top 10s, with as many elpees from any band as you feel is warranted in, in the comments. Think I’ll invite Dave Marsh to contribute. I’m sure he’s got a Bob Seger record in mind.
Peter put up a great post here, and Steve responded with a cool list. I am, I believe, the oldest (Steve is still the most curmudgeonly, though) so my teen years halt at 1972 meaning Brit Pop and Psychedelia ruled my adolescene.
Tommy, The Who. Boy did I relate, especially as a misunderstood, chronically sick kid who saw things differently than seemingly everyone else around me.
Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, Small Faces. A killer bit of British psychedelics, packaged way weirdly, and displaying maybe the best band of instrumental players ever who were in a single band Steve Marriott went on to Humble Pie, Ronnie Lane recorded with many including Pete Townshend’s early solo stuff, Ian McLaghlen played all over including with the Stones, Kenny Jones was the Who drummer after Keith Moon, and Ronnie Wood? Duh.
Cheap Thrills, Big Brother. Live garage rock at its very best. These guys are so fucking tight it is scary
Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan. A seminal part of my life: I listened to it every night as I went to sleep for two years.
In Search of the Lost Chord, Moody Blues. My foray to prog rock, and since my parents drilled classical music into me early on this was the perfect synthesis. And, it still sounds good to me.
Otis Live in Europe, Otis Redding. With Cheap Thrills, 801 Live, Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East, this is maybe the best live album ever.
The White Album, Beatles. Man, all over the map. When I was a little older than my Blonde on Blonde days, I would listen to this (like Cheap Thrills) on my headphones, at night, as I was going to sleep. So interesting and all over the place for maybe the most creative band ever.
Surrealistic Pillow, Jefferson Airplane. I remember the day I bought it, and where I bought it. Still kills and is so sophisticated for such a young band.
Moby Grape, Moby Grape. Too bad these guys couldn’t hold up. As noted, one of two Peter (my asshole brother, not my mate the wonderful Mr. Kreutzer) dissed.
The Doors, The Doors. The other the bro dissed, and one I listened to every time I put a stack on the spindle.I will always wonder if the Doors were really a great band, but no question this is a great album.
I have been listening to the complete reissue of The Who Sell Out, which has the original tracks and bits of commercials supporting Peter Townshend’s penchant to make an album a cohesive unit.
Townshend, as most of you likely know, imagined the album as a daily radio program on the BBC, so he sprinkled in radio spots, largely performed by the band making the music sparkly, the ads goofy and funny, and the entire work just so different and musically prescient that the whole affair just kills me. In fact, The Who Sell Out is my favorite album by the band.
With the reissue all the original cuts are indeed there, along with the released spots, but there are almost 30 cuts on this, with several takes on several songs in several styles making the whole smorgasbord kind of fascinating in so many ways.
But, at the core is the music which my mate Steve Gibson called alternative, even though the album was released 10 years before the Sex Pistols saw daylight.
If you listen to the song below, Jaguar, I think you will see what Steve means.
If you drop down to Rael, you will find an instrumental riff that worked its way into Underture from Tommy.