From “half way to Memphis” to rocking Cleveland and everything in-between, Ian Hunter has now brought us five generations of songwriting wit and musical prowess. This ode to a dear friend, David Bowie, reminds us of better days. Days when we smiled, we laughed, and we enjoyed the camaraderie and friendship shared between two amazing human beings.
“Dandy – the world was black ‘n’ white You showed us what it’s like To live inside a rainbow Dandy – you thrilled us to the core You left us wanting more And then we took the last bus home”
The song was written by Mickey Newbury, a famed Nashville songwriter, supposedly about the LSD experience. What I learned today is that while it was made into a hit by The First Edition, the first version was by Jerry Lee Lewis, who always rocks.
One of the commentators on the above clip said to look for the Mickey Newbury version. Why not?
I’ve been listening to the Holy Modal Rounders, a band that is known for first using the word psychedelic in a song (!) and then became a big part of the Fugs for a while. So, the Rounders, East Village folkies with political and bluegrass roots, with a yen for spiritual awakening on many levels, and an antic sense of humor. A droll one, too. Also a love for songwriting and old timey music and new timey takes on old timey ways.
Which doesn’t describe Boobs A Lot, a novelty song they wrote for the Fugs. The Fugs version is fun, a call and response thing. The Rounders version came out on their fifth album, Good Taste is Timeless, in 1971. As a college boy in Southern California in the mid 70s I discovered it as a staple on the Dr. Demento radio show on Sunday nights.
What I remembered of the song was its delightful glee, but what I heard tonight was some pretty cool rocking, growing a solid Bo Diddley riff in a pretty clever way. A novelty song, sure, but a fun listen to for the music, too. At the end of the day, a rock song with novelty lyrics.
So, to make this a shaggy dog story, when the Rounders album finished (I was making dinner), I for some reason thought about the Pink Faeries, a band I learned about five years ago. They were British psychedelic rockers from the early 70s, they grew out of a band called the Deviants that I haven’t looked up, but they then made some records that are uniformly excellent. Not because they’re polished, but because whether they’re covering Chuck Berry tunes or offering their originals, they have an inexhaustible drive (two drummers) and weaving guitars (two lead guitars) and the chops to make propulsive memorable rock.
This is rock that managed in its time to bridge the Allman Brothers and the punk scene that was soon to come. Check out my previous posts for Pink Fairies (that was my spelling then) for some choice cuts, but today let’s admire Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout, from 1971 as well, which is a heavy metal tune that morphs into an exemplary jam band tune without apology. Before heavy metal and jam bands were a thing. And back again on this live track from the John Peel show.
For me a big question is how much had Pink Fairies heard the Allman Brothers at this point. The Allmans were first. Part of this song leans heavily toward Morning Dew and Elizabeth Reed. And the double drummers compound the point. None of which is a bad thing, no matter who came first.
I wrote about Ellen Foley’s very excellent Spirit of St. Louis, an album of her boyfriend Mick Jones’s songs, some written with Joe Strummer. And most of it played by the Clash as her backing band. Some will disagree about the excellent part.
Another odd collection is Wendy James’s debut elpee, Now Ain’t the Time for Your Tears, from 1993. James was the singer in a new wavey band called Transvision Vamp that I don’t really know. After that band broke up she somehow ended up recording a solo elpee with all the songs written by Elvis Costello, some with his then wife Cait O’Riordan. Like Spirit of St. Louis, this is odd music that veers from punky riffs, to rock, to artsy new wave, and like Spirit of St. Louis, I find it very captivating.
London’s Brilliant, like many of the songs, appears to be self-referential, a song for James to sing that also describes her place in the rock world at the time the record was made. It is one of those co-written by O’Riordan. And perhaps I should warn you that it totally cops (and admits to copping) the guitar riff of Clash City Rockers.
A few days ago Rolling Stone published a story about a song that appeared on the internet some years back and no one can figure out who recorded it, wrote it, or where it came from. It’s not a very good song, but it is kind of catchy, and suitably mysterious.
It was apparently recorded off a German radio show in the early 1980s.
It seems like there must be other music out there that is similarly unknown. Why did this one break out?
This is about a story in The Guardian. In 1979 an experimental/noise/art/industrial/krautrock band called Nurse With Wound put out their first album. The inner sleeve listed their favorite 291 bands.
In the 90s that list became something of a challenge for fans of this sort of music to find, and some it was released on CD for the first time. Now, 40 years after it was originally released, Nurse with Wound is working with a record label trying to put together compilation sets with one track from each of those bands. This is their story, well worth reading if only for some of the band names.
Here’s that album, which is everything haters of experimental music are likely to hate, but with some interesting sounds along the way.
The first volume of the compilation is out now.
My friend Rael posted about a girl group called the Fortune Cookies on Facebook. They have a record called It Should Have Been Me. Good song, standard girl group arrangement. The video uses The Graduate well.
But of course things don’t stop there. There is, it turns out, another song called It Should Have Been Me with a wedding theme, and a totally different sound. Also well worth hearing.