A meme borrowed from the inestimable David Schwart…

A meme borrowed from the inestimable David Schwartz at Mumble Herder:

So, here’s how it works:

  1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
  2. Put it on shuffle
  3. Press play
  4. For every question, type the song that’s playing
  5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
  6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool . . .
  • Opening Credits: “Chatterboxes” – Deerhoof. A jittery song without a rhythm section, basically a pretty melody over percussive guitars. The lyrics are about passing stories through generations, and I like this as a good opening credit song. To wit: “Set sail, seaworthy vessel/Fill your holds with the sound/Of daughters and sons/Wagging their tongues.”
  • Waking Up: “Dr. Schwitters Snippet” – Faust. An optimistic, Moog-driven, 49-second snippet from The Faust Tapes ending with a theremin and the beginning of an explosion. Sounds like a hell of a day.
  • First Day At School: “Lisbon” – Six Organs of Admittance. Wow, this is pensive stuff. This track is solo acoustic guitar, in the style of Robbie Basho or John Fahey, all minor-key moody mood music. I guess the first day at school is a sad one. This track calls for a half-speed montage. Now!
  • Falling In Love: “Always” – Tom Verlaine. Kinda rockin’ post-Television Verlaine track that sounds like many kinda rockin’ post-Television Verlaine tracks. I have no idea what he’s singing about, but “think it over” is repeated in the chorus. Killer guitar lead.
  • Fight Song: “I Love You So Much It Hurts” – Ray Charles. Hey, is my iPod off by a song? Maybe I’m just a lover, not a fighter.
  • Breaking Up: “I Summon You” – Spoon. Damn, I take it back. This is a perfect break-up song. Consider: “Where are you tonight?/And how’d we get here?/It’s too late to break it off/I need a release/the signal’s a cough/but that don’t get me off/I summon you to appear, my love/Got the weight of the world/I summon you here, my love.”
  • Prom: “Elevate Me Later” – Pavement. Built on a fantastic riff, this is a kiss-off to, well, somebody. I know every word to this song — in fact, it’s nigh unto irresistable to sing along — but I have no idea what it’s about. “Those who sleep with electric guitars/range-rovin’ with the cinema stars/well, I wouldn’t want to shake their hand/because they’re in such a high protein land.” Yeah, you tell ’em, Stephen.
  • Life is Good: “Der Vaum” – Faust. OK, more Krautrock from The Faust Tapes. This has a jaunty little melody, with lots of dramatic pauses, but it also has two heavily-reverbed competing vocal lines that appear to mix German and English. All I know is that something is “breaking my head.” I guess that’s good.
  • Mental Breakdown: “Holy Train Wrecks” – The Weird Weeds. Remember when I went to see Jandek and made a bad joke about one of the drummers being in Jandek’s death-cult youth group? That guy was Nick Hennies. This is his band, and they’re freakin’ great. Another sign of alignment between the current assignment and my iPod, because this song is strange and beautiful enough to cause the fragile to experience hallucinations.
  • Driving: “Needing Someone” – Gene Clark. Alright, a bit of 60s folk-rock for driving. I’m guessing that the movie would just appropriate some of the groovier motorcycle scenes from Easy Rider for this.
  • Flashback: “Dog” – Sly and the Family Stone. Maybe this part of the movie is an extended Walter Mitty segment where I imagine life as a late 60s hippie hepcat. Maybe I could be a hoofer hoping to break into a supergroovy production of Hair. Or did that come later? I have no idea. ‘Cause I’m not young, but I was born years after this song came out.
  • Getting Back Together: “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow” – Brian Wilson. Ha! OK, then. No, wait! Ha! Cue the fireman’s helmets! This is going to turn out well.
  • Wedding: “Yellow” – Okkervil River. Wow, a sad song about people who love each other but break up, anyway. That’s harsh, iPod. There’s some beautiful moments in this song, I have to say: “Our paths and our futures are hidden in mists that are stretching out over impossible distances/totally obscured/And I really do think that there’s probably more good than anger or selfishness, sickness, or sadness would ever completely allow us to have in this life/I think I’m sure/But that doesn’t mean it’s bad.” This seems better for the next category, so maybe I fell asleep through one song.
  • Paying the Dues: “Victory Garden” – The Red Krayola. Oh, I love this song. I was familiar with the Galaxie 500 cover first, but the original is just great. It’s a bit more 60s psychedelia instead of the late-80s psychedelia of the G500, but man, this is great stuff. Less than two minutes long, too.
  • The Night Before The War: “The Sweet Sounds of Summer” – The Shangri-Las. Yeah! I’d rather hear teenage symphonies to god before holy hell rains down on me.
  • Final Battle: “We’ve Been Had” – The Walkmen. I have a Walkmen song on my iPod? Really? I’m stunned.
  • Moment of Triumph: “A Song About Walls” – The Geraldine Fibbers. A rather upbeat song, but the lyrics, all fractured fairy-tales, are most decidedly NOT upbeat. A girl junky (with a “needle in her eye,” yikes!) hurls her addiction through the walls. Well, that’s ok, I guess, but there’s a lot of darkness about boyfriends and sex with dealers and stuff like that. The noise-to-melody ratio is about 1:1, and that’s freakin’ awesome.
  • Death Scene: “Le Grande Illusion” – Television Personalities. Niiiiiiiiiiice. I’m going out to the sound of a forlorn teen implicitly comparing his secret love to one of Renoir’s greatest films. How are you going out?
  • Funeral Song: “NightEndDay” – Pelican. Superbombastic funeral, ja! Jesus, I hope they’re setting my death-boat on fire, releasing a flock of endangered birds into the wild, razing and salting the land, and sending my body over Victoria Falls to justify using this music. Even then, it may not be enough. This song’s over 10 minutes long, so they should probably intercut some scenes of rampaging marauders setting villagers on fire to keep people into it.
  • End Credits: “Now That I Know” – Devendra Banhart. Well, this song seems to say, “Thanks for watching this downer of a biopic. Hope you don’t slit your wrists much on the way home!” Lovely stuff, but sad, sad, sad.

More Required Viewing !!!

    There was a time,

believe you me,
long ago and far, far away,
when all the best boots were Beatle,
trebly white Vox six-strings cooly matched your best gurl’s plastic mini,
and the words “Garage Band” had not yet become just another registered Apple trademark.

Well, it isn’t only those Hives who care to dwell to this day in such defiantly monophonic, tight-legged times:  
Coz, believe it or knot, those otherwise empty Eighties and Nineties were positively littered as well with Levi and Rickenbacker-clad mopheads singing and playing up wholly frug-worthy storms for all who would listen

…whilst, alas, the vast majority of mankind were told to dig Hall and Oates or even that Fred MacMurray of “rock and roll” [sic!!] instead, I must most sadly recall.

But if you’d really like to hear and see what all the fuzz SHOULD’VE been about back then
(not to mention trace the socio-musical routes of either White Stripe straight on down),
simply take the next eighty-odd minutes to sit and spin with Purple Cactus/Dionysus’
utterly woofer-rattling Knights Of Fuzz DVD + ROM.

Yep, it’s all here, now, and forevermore:
Classic, cutting clips full of wholly-living-colour Cynics, Fuzztones, and tons more Untamed Youth
including vintage (1983!) Cheepskates,
their upstate New York brethren The Chesterfield Kings
(always the out-of-their-headed Stones to the C-skates comparatively tamed Fabulous Four);
why, even K of F mastermind Timothy Gassen dons his very own psilocybin-dipped Marshmallow Overcoat for not one but – count ‘em! — two vibe-riddled vids.

Lo, lest we neither forget Toronto’s towering 10 Commandments
featuring our sweet James Lord on Crampy-indeed lead vox
…..and Speaking of O Canada,
Montreal’s groovy Gruesomes are more than fully represented via their Monkees-on-methamphetamine “Hey!”
(very personally speaking, one of my fave pure pop clips OF ALL TIME).

But that’s still not it !!

Besides all this anarchic archival footage also comes hours more read-only memory content, including 300-plus pages of Tim’s criminally out-of-print Knights Of Fuzz encyclopedia-lysergic, twenty-six full ‘n’ frantic audio clips, and tons upon anti-trendy tons of additional articles, photos, reviews and data galore both old and retro-new!   

You can get completely fuzzed up right now if you’d like,
by dragging it into the virtual garage for your fully day-glo all-media preview.

But I heartily recommend taking the whole paisley plunge
by grabbing the real thing
right here
right now.

Ready?  Steady?

Then GO Already !!!

Blue Ash

Blue Ash is a Lost in the Grooves artist. Click to sample the music or purchase tracks from Around Again – A Collection of Rarities From the Vault 1972-1979. And keep an eye peeled to Frank Secich’s Blue Ash blog here at LITG for news, photos and insights straight from the band. This reissue (of a double CD first put out by the good folks at Not Lame) is just the start, as we’ll soon be digging deeper into the Blue Ash vaults for songs never before heard by fans.

Metal Mike Saunders provided this vintage record review for the Lost in the Grooves anthology:

Blue Ash No More, No Less (Mercury, 1973)

“I Remember A Time” could do for Blue Ash what “Mr. Tambourine Man” did for the Byrds: the start of a brilliant career, a Number One hit, instant mythology. The guitar intro lasts all of five seconds before Jimmy Kendzor and Frank Secich’s voices come in, oozing of everything the Byrds and Lovin’ Spoonful ever promised, the soaring harmonies in the chorus driving over jangling lead guitar work. It’s the sound of tomorrow right here today, it’s the perfect folk-rock single. It’s beautiful, that’s what.

This is one of the most spirited, powerful debuts ever from an American group. No More, No Less opens with “Have you Seen Her,” a fast rocker kicked off by four whomps on David Evans’ snare. This is the one that makes me think of The Who; the lead guitar is pure West Coast, though.

"Just Another Game” is the one quiet song, an effective tonedown before “I Remember A Time.” “Plain To See” is similar to “I Remember A Time” in the way its simple, compelling melody rocks out with vocal harmonies framed over a trebly Byrds guitar sound.

“Here We Go Again” follows, midway between the hardest and softest numbers on the first side. What’s great here are the group vocals on top of the tuff folk-rock cum hard rock instrumental sound; it’s like killing two birds with one stone, the whole premise behind the old and new Mod groups (Small Faces, early Who, the Sweet), not to mention the hard pop masterpiece known to the world as “Do Ya.”

By the time this album ends, there’s no doubt about it, Blue Ash have got themselves one hell of a debut LP that may send fellow stateside groups like Stories, the Raspberries, and Big Star running back to the woodshed to come up with music even better than their present stuff. (Mike Saunders)

I just read that Claude Luter passed away. F…

I just read that Claude Luter passed away. For those who know the book I co-edited for Rizzoli “Manual of Saint-Germain-des-Prés” by Boris Vian, his name comes up often. One of the key figures in the whole Paris post-war generation – he is probably the key figure to bring New Orleans jazz to that great city and culture.

Sadly not that much information on him in English, but I imagine him to be a fantastic personality – especially anyone who was close friends with Boris Vian. If I am not correct he played regular shows at A club till very recently. Luter was 83 years old and forever young. TamTam salutes you!

John Phillips “John The Wolfking of L.A.” CD (Varese Sarabande)

A lot of reviewers are focusing on Bob Dylan’s aping of Phillips’ cover pose and costume on the front of Desire, but the most interesting things about Wolfking –and there are plenty–are in the grooves. This storied 1969 solo disk from the ravaged ex-Papa proves that not just symbolist poets make their best work when systematically deranging souls and senses. (Of course, Rimbaud didn’t surround himself with ace players from the Wrecking Crew and Elvis’ band, nor with the Blossoms on backing vox.) Wolfking is an eclectic, ambitious and playful romp through scenes of Hollywood and Malibu excess and redemption, exquisitely sung and arranged. Phillips’ style fuses country, pop, scat, gospel and soul in a very personal and appealing way. Eight strong bonus tracks easily turns the disk into a shoulda-been double, including the tender "Lady Genevieve" which negates some of the emotional ugliness of "Let It Bleed, Genevieve" from the original album, and ending with the superior single version of "Mississippi."

(Buy from Amazon. See also Brian Doherty’s review of the album from the Lost in the Grooves book.) 

Thanks, Watson!

I saw the recent blog about Johnny Guitar Watson and wanted to add my two cents about this brilliant guitarist by reviewing a different compilation from a year ago. Regardless of when you discover “Guitar” – it will always be a scintillating funktastic experience.

Johnny Guitar Watson – The Funk Anthology
Shout Factory
Right off the bat I have to say these are the funkiest two CDs I have heard in a long time. CDs so funky I will put up a dare to you: I will wager my unassailable credentials as a hipper-than-hip music journalist, my various lifetime achievement awards for snarky critique-writing, my curmudgeon’s license, and my title as Funk Overlord (yes, Funk Overlord – I won it fair and square from the guys in Black Merda in a card game!) if you can find two CDs funkier then this. Now, James Brown doesn’t count, but anyone else is fair game.

Though Watson originally started his career and gained his first fame as a bluesman, Watson was a master at continually re-inventing himself throughout his career and by the end of his life was known more for being a George Clinton-esque funkmeister than for his blues. He first started in the ’50’s as a piano player and then switched to guitar, which is where he first began getting noticed. In this way he was a lot like Ike Turner, who also first strarted working as a piano player before picking up the guitar. Like Turner, Watson was an inventive bandleader who came up with many innovative arrangements and skillful gimmicks to set himself apart from the pack. While not pursuing the business angles Turner did to get noticed, Watson was able to market himself as a viable solo artist due to his excellent singing voice, which led to many opportunities never open to Turner. Where Turner had to either find his Tina or record instrumentals, Watson was able to take advantage of many styles, though paradoxically, it took Watson many more years to become a household name than it did Turner.

He eventually did get his due, though. Starting with his signing to the Dick James Music Group in the early ’70’s, Watson was set to take his road-tested funk persona to a new level. He had long since went through his early blues phase, a soul phase in the ’60’s, and several other R&B-based experiments which kept him on the verge of breaking through in a big way but had not quite clicked with the public. Luckily for Watson, he was always ahead of the curve in terms of his ability to judge what would be popular next, what the public was looking for. His problem was he had just not been in the right place or situation to capitalize on it. His extraordinary musicianship kept him in the game as well. Capable of playing many instruments, Watson was always an innovator with sound just as much as with vision. One of the first to experiment with synthesizers, Watson was dreaming up funky applications for them years before most of the artists people readily assume as being the leaders of the new technology. For example, Watson was using the talkbox years before Peter Frampton and funkateer Roger made their names with the device.

This 2 CD set covers the best of Watson’s time with the Dick James Music Group and also includes cuts from his last recording, Bow Wow, which was released in 1994. Of course, most of the set leans towards Watson’s work from the mid-70’s to about 1982 – which was the last time he recorded before his comeback Bow Wow so the set pretty much covers his latter and most fertile period right up until his death. There are a healthy four cuts each from the six albums he released – and one can definitely hear the progression as Watson’s funk style became more and more assured and confident with each subsequent release. While Bow Wow is nothing more than a desperate, lackluster attept by Watson to show he could still funk with the best of them, the album does have a few moments on it that a Watson fan (or any stone funk fan for that matter) would like and most of those are included on this CD set.

For those of you who think Sly Stone and George Clinton’s various projects were the only funky things going on in the ’70’s, this set is going to shock the hell out of you. Music just can’t get any funkier than this. Pick this up now!

So that’s it. Get you some Johnny Guitar Watson as soon as you can ’cause you don’t want to live without the funk for very long!

The Music Nerd knows…..about Da Fonk!

The Abominable Snowman

While it certainly wouldn’t qualify for Paul Schrader’s canon of great films (or anybody else’s, for that matter, including mine), whenever I happen across this 1957 movie (sometimes calling itself The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas) when it airs on Turner Classic Movies, I inevitably watch until the end. Director Val Guest treats screenwriter Nigel Kneale’s intelligent script so matter-of-factly that parts of the movie achieve a documentary feel (helped along, admittedly, by the wealth of stock footage of the Himalayan mountain range and avalanches). 

I remember staying up late one night to watch this, for the first time, as a child, and being absolutely mesmerized by Peter Cushing’s long-awaited face-to-face encounter with the Yeti. The effect remains the same for me today: menace mixing with mystery as the unbelievably tall beings step from the shadow into the light, finally revealing the eyes of the Yeti. Those age-old eyes. 

Ox Populi

It’s true:
The one and only Chief Beatle would’ve actually hit 66 today. 


But lest we EVER forget
that other great big, loud, solid (yet stolid) John

who once made those Sixties swing,

who too was born on 9 October,

and Who is as well, most unfortunately indeed,
nowhere around anyway anywhere anyhow anymore.

And just when we could use him
the very very most…..

The Rules of the Game

“You see, in this world there is one awful thing, and that is that everyone has his reasons.”

I’ve known that quote well for many years, thanks to the writings of Paul Nelson (who referenced it often), just as I’ve known that the man responsible for originally uttering those words was Jean Renoir. But until last week, when I watched his fine film The Rules of the Game for the first time in over twenty years, I didn’t know (or I’d forgotten) that the quote emanated therein. Spoken by the pivotal character Octave, played by Renoir himself, hearing the words spoken aloud, in French, was a surprise and a revelation.

(In writing a biography of Paul Nelson and collecting his best writings into book form, and trying to understand how someone so talented and so loved came to an end that few of his old friends could comprehend living a life that was solitary at best, lonely at worst, while no longer writing for publication I’ve been tempted to rely on Renoir’s words to explain and excuse what happened. Thus far that strikes me as too easy; but then, I’ve more than once used Renoir’s quote to explain my own actions.)

In the September/October 2006 issue of Film Comment, director Paul Schrader writes an ambitious, lengthy (the longest article the magazine has published in its 42 years), erudite, and sometimes impenetrable piece entitled “The Film Canon” (the introduction to which may currently be found online). Supposedly sans favoritism and “taste, personal and popular,” based on “those movies that artistically defined film history,” he cites The Rules of the Game as the number one greatest film of all time.

According to Schrader: “For me the artist without whom there could not be a film canon is Jean Renoir, and the film without which a canon is inconceivable is The Rules of the Game.”

It is no doubt a great film: funny and poignant and heartbreaking and, ultimately, very moral (thus satisfying Schrader’s dictum that “no work that fails to strike moral chords can be canonical”). But even if it were not, if it were only a so-so movie that happened to contain Renoir’s memorable quote, which spoke to me last week as if it were Paul Nelson trying to help me understand, there’d be a place in my heart for The Rules of the Game.