Lunch Break: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, “Didn’t It Rain”

I feel like a stupid ignorant fuck, having lived nearly 65 years, being a music junkie, and having never heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe till a couple of days ago, but I got a link to some of her stuff via my weekly NPR music email push, and there she was.

Not much I can say but, “wow.”

Check this out and you will see what I mean. Swear to fucking god.


Lunch Break: Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Mr. Saturday Night Special”

I think I have owned up to the fact that I was never a huge Lynyrd Skynyrd fan, particularly, during the heyday of the band.

I always thought Freebird sort of silly and overindulgent, and the band did pretty much seem like a street fight version of the Allman Brothers, and I remember being in London, at my cousins Jim and Evie’s, when the news of the 1977 plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zandt. That was on the heels of the release of the album Street Survivors which featured the band prophetically with a wall of flames behind them, and the truth is my first thoughts were about the power of karma.


Well, except that I did indeed find the song What’s Your Name? was a  pretty funny and well executed pop song. And, over the years, as with bands  like Rush, and even the Zep, whom I was cooler on for years than the band  deserved, I have come to appreciate the Skynyrds as a pretty good and fun  band with some good chops and clever words.

But, over the last month, the SONY TV HD Channel–one of several million   it seems on my remote–a lot of documentaries about music and bands have   been showing. There was one on the Allmans, and a pretty fun one on wierd   Christmas songs that featured a lot of time with Dr. Demento, among others.

But, for some reason I taped Gone With the Wind: The Remarkable Rise and Tragic Fall of Lynyrd Skynyrdwhich clocks in at almost three hours, believe it or not.

And, the film was more than engaging, highlighting not just the band, but in particular the driven Ronnie Van Zandt, the brains and driving force behind the group, who it seems was hardly a thug.

In fact, Van Zandt seemed to have been disciplined and focused beyond all belief, as the film reveals. He learned to be a pretty good singer, and truly was a solid enough songwriter, and, well, if nothing else, his band was a lot of fun. They were also a monster triple guitar attack band, although it seems improvising was not within the realm of the group.

I do recommend the film though: interesting, engaging, and well fun watching a lot of stoners reminisce.  For a sample, how out Mr. Saturday Night Special. Tell, me though: is it pro gun, or anti? Van Zandt was fabulous at these vagaries.

Lunch Break: Aerosmith, “What It Takes?”

Along with Rush and Lynyrd Skynrd, Aerosmith was another band I gave very little thought to during the 70’s and into the late 80’s.

I do confess that Sweet Emotion is great little guitar song, but aside from that, not much the band did tickled much of anything in me till Pump came out in 1989.

As with lots of other bands who had a defined sound, Pump was surely Aerosmith, but it was poppy and accessible like 1984 was for Van Halen, and I really thought the album was a pretty strong effort all around.

But, none of the songs nailed me like the Beatles homage, What It Takes?

From the chorusy solo that points to Let It Be, to the bridge background vocals with the band harmonizing “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” to the lovely droning arpeggios and fade that are sort of a blend of Let It Be and Hey Jude this is just a great tight little cut that always makes me smile.

Nothing fancy, but in a perfect way, this is sort of the Beatles way much of the time, no matter how complex getting to simple was.


Lunch Break: Beck, “Satellite of Love”

I never seem to be able to watch the entire Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions all in one shot. The broadcasts, on HBO, usually run about four hours, and my body has a muscle memory chip to fall asleep anytime I watch TV for more than 90 minutes at a stretch.

I did catch the end, though, the other day, and there was a lovely induction speech for Lou Reed by Patti Smith, and then an equally lovely acceptance by Lori Anderson, and then the live tribute, which began with Beck leading the performance of Satellite of Love.

I  must admit that though I love Reed and the song, that my first thoughts of the title go to the wonderful late 80’s-early 90’s TV show, Mystery Science Theater (MST). MST’s premise was a shlubby janitor (Joel Hodgson) gets zapped into space and is forced to watch crappy movies and the results can be registered. If you check the Wiki link, you will see more, but Joel named the ship on which he was marooned “The Satellite of Love,” in an obvious homage to Reed.

So, you get  goofy clip, and now a pretty joyful version of the source. Miss you Lou!

Lunch Break: Bob Mould, “Turning of the Tide”

Peter’s fine Bob Mould post reminded me of…Bob Mould.

Like Steve I was a fan of Husker Du, and then Sugar, but I was more than surprised when Mould appeared as a contributor to Beat the Retreat, a compilation/tribute (ugh, I hate that word in this context) to guitarist and songwriter Richard Thompson.

I am pretty out there as a huge Thompson fan. He is my favorite live performer and songwriter, and well, he was my favorite guitar player till I got turned on to Bill Frisell and appreciated Mick Ronson as much as I do now. Still top three with some pretty good company.

Anyway, Mould covers this fine Thompson tune, and kills on guitar, but he also really nails the timbre of Thompson’s voice. Best of all, I found a couple of other Mould covers of Thompson, so more to come!

Bob Mould, Tomorrow Morning and Kid With a Crooked Face

I missed this loud performance of new songs on David Letterman last February. There is something tonic in hearing this much noise on mainstream TV, even if Mould’s melodies are so narrow that it’s hard to tell where one song starts and the other begins.

And that bass solo sounds a little too much like the theme from Friends for comfort, but the rest is as comfortably loud as Danzig on Mothers Day.