The Veronicas, “Untouched”

Here’s the tune..

I’m not sure I’ll ever play it again. I’m pretty sure I never heard it before tonight.

It’s from 2008. It hit No. 17 on the US Billboard charts, but even though I had a nine year old in the house it didn’t make an impression on me. But what’s striking is the speed (fast), the strings (aggressive), and the guitars (really aggressive).

Couple it with some plain talking lyrics and an oddly effective chorus and I’m not sure why it didn’t make it to No. 3. Maybe because it’s from Australia.

In any case, this post isn’t a recommendation exactly, but a nod to the idea that the pieces of great songs and great ideas can also end up in pieces of commercial product that might actually have some personality to it.

I think I will listen again.

Link: Proxy Music

I had occasion to go looking for the album art for the Slits’ Cut, a rather amazing record from 1979 that sounds as fresh today as it did then.

Read the story here.

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.

This is well worth checking out. I’m sure Proxy Music has more.

A Whole Lot of Gordon Lightfoot

Robbie Fulks is a songwriter I had heard about a lot more than I’d heard until a few years ago he made an album with the Mekons. A good album.

Fulks is a good songwriter and player, the opposite of a star, but a lifer with a lot to offer if you dig in. I haven’t yet dug in far enough, but this unbelievably long and detailed analysis of Gordon Lightfoot’s life and performance and songwriting is a marvel of storytelling, aesthetic analysis and covering the whole of a subject.

For instance, Fulks listened to every Gordon Lightfoot song at least once. Except maybe not all of that last 2004 album, but many others more than once.

He relates the story of Cathy Smith, a groupie with amazing breadth who went to jail for administering John Belushi’s final fatal dose, with aplomb, because it is Lightfoot’s story too at a few points.

My point is this is well worth a read even though it is way long, and if you start to lose interest skim ahead a few grafs and you’ll be onto another Lightfootian topic that will amuse and astound, ending with an in depth analysis of Lightfoot’s writing, which is exacting and sharp and a lesson in poetry and lyrics.

Dig in by clicking this link.

Amy Madden, The Red and the Blue

There’s an excellent story in the NY Times about Amy Madden, who I wouldn’t have known about if Ginia Bellafante didn’t write about her.

You can read it here. And you can hear an excellent song by her here, with her playing the guitar and Jon Paris playing harmonica.

Here’s a clip of her playing bass in Jon Paris’s band. Which gets funner as it goes along.

Name That Tune!

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?

The Search for Nurse With Wound’s Favorite Bands

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.

What’s your favorite Beatle single.

Think about this now. Rank your top five. There were 22 it seems, in the UK. The Guardian has their own take. You can find it here. My favorite was Eight Days A Week, I own it, but it seems it wasn’t released in the UK. Reading the story I guess I understand the writer’s thinking, but he’s out of his mind. Here’s the My Sharonna of the birth of rock/pop music. No doubt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2rkW0Tu3H8

Robert Frank is Dead.

Frank created a book of photographs called The Americans back in the 50s. It’s a terrific book of strikingly straightforward and revealing images full of, um, Americans.
Jack Kerouac wrote the introduction to The Americans, an obvious choice at the moment On the Road ruled the world. Kerouac also wrote and narrated Frank’s first film, a shambling tale of New York City’s bohemian lives, called Pull My Daisy. You can view it here. Frank, of course, took the photos that made up the collagey cover of the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street.
Frank also made a tour documentary with the Stones at about the same time. It is called Cocksucker Blues and the Stones, who have said they thought the film was excellent, sued to keep it from being released because its explicit sex and drug scenes were too much even for them. A deal was reached that allowed Frank to show the movie five times a year provided he was in attendance. I remember one year leaving the Rolling Stone magazine Christmas party early to see the film at the Anthology Film Archives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. You can find the film in pieces on You Tube, from time to time. Frank clearly wasn’t policing the copyright, nor were the Stones, as evidenced by this music video that uses some of the film.
Frank also made some dramatic films that drew notice, though the only one I saw was a shambling road picture featuring a who’s who of cool rock dudes in the late 80s (I’m talking guys named Johansen, Waits and Strummer, plus Leon Redbone).
This is the trailer with French titles.
This seems to be the whole film with German titles.
Final bonus video with Frank’s Super 8 film of the Stones.