Self-exiled to NYC in 1967, the surf/pop chameleon sunk into the Village folk scene and built a relationship with Atlantic Records that he hoped would eclipse his professionally successful, personally painful, history with Dunhill. Unfortunately, after five years of nonstop songwriting for hire, the muse fell silent, so the week Sloan flew down to Mussel Shoals to record with the house rhythm section and producer Tom Dowd, he had to force ten songs. Sweet but slight and largely absent the usual Sloan hooks—though "New Design" is a low key knockout—the album works a loose and soulful Hardinesque groove, with Sloan sounding alternately hopeful and exhausted. High points include "And the Boundaries Inbetween" with its subtle psychedelic tinge, and the abstract kiss off of "(What Did She Mean When She Said) Good Luck," but this is definitely one for die-hard fans. Maybe with the renewed interest in Sloan and his terrific new Sailover CD, someone will reissue 1972’s Raised On Records next.
1. THROW ME AWAY (9:13)
2. UGLY MAN (7:12)
3. LITHE BODY (9:25)
4. THE POLICE (7:21)
5. RUN AWAY (5:32)
6. IF I WANTED (5:45)
1. WINE YOU DEVIL (8:50)
2. YOU HOLD ME UP (5:37)
3. YOU JUST ABOUT KILLED ME (6:53)
4. LITTLE WHILE (5:36)
5. LONELY DOG (6:51)
6. LET ME TRY AGAIN (12:54)
RECORDED LIVE: SCOTTISH RITE THEATRE AUSTIN TEXAS
AUGUST 28, 2005
(C)(P) 2006 CORWOOD INDUSTRIES
P.O. BOX 15375
HOUSTON, TEXAS 77220
Dr. Dog – Easy Street (National Parking)
I love to check out bands on Myspace. That’s how I find music these days. It’s a perfectly egalitarian system. You get a few pictures & four songs, whether you’re Sting or The Hangnails. During one of my semi-inebriated late-night trowels I stumbled onto Dr. Dog. What I heard really intrigued me, so I bought their cd, Easybeat. While waiting for it to arrive I read some reviews that mentioned their overt Beatle-ness. A few really slagged them for it, like saying, ‘We’re so over this, dude’. Well it arrived today and I’m on listen number six. I suppose it can be called Beatle-esque in that it has harmony, melody, & unexpected juxtapositions of musical elements (i.e. string quartets giving way to garage-band breaks, sing-alongs that pop out of nowhere, feedback over augmented chords). There is nothing here that is ripped from the fabs, save for one tossed-off Obladi-ish bass line on the opening number. Mostly what is Beatle-esque is an obvious striving to make something that’s going to stick around. Not to say it’s pretentious or precious in any way, it’s just that it’s obvious these guys are shooting for something. There is intent here that goes beyond writing a good or even catchy song. And like the Beatles, it walks the line between melancholia and jubilation, often in the same song. Mostly, it sounds like a band in a room dicking around and having a lot of fun. Sonically, It has the weird lo-fi weirdness of the Basement Tapes. No high end at all, which is kinda neat. Gives the ears an unexpected rest. It was recorded on a 1/4″ 8-track, probably the same Fostex I have in my closet. It’s a magical little machine that may have contributed to the discs hazy mood. There are correlations between Easybeat & the two Simon Dawes EP’s, which have a similar fly-by-the-seat sound of the Kinks recording in a tool shed. Like the Dawes records, vocals distort, people go off microphone, and ragged harmonies are left in with the spot-on ones. Such a simple act, and one that could be interpreted as a careless one, but the bravery of leaving the grit in results in a sound that’s soothingly human, a sound you can snuggle up to. Couple that with the great songs these guys write, and you got something that’s essential. I hope no one gives them a budget for the next record, either.
Sure, I come back after a little sabbatical and there’s no fanfare, no cake, no party, and, worst of all, no friggin’ BALLOONS for chrissakes. What the #$%^?
Anyway, been gone for too long, drinking shit that’s too strong, learning some songs and singin’ ’em wrong, removing some groupies’ thongs and hitting some bongs, listening to T-Rex and banging some gongs – fuck it…it’s time to slow down a little and who best to slow down to than some Snakey?
And by “Snakey” I mean some Tony Joe White, the coolest Southern mutha since James Brown.
If’n ya don’t know the name, ya still know White’s game as he has written some of the coolest soul hits around. Some of them, like Polk Salad Annie (his only big hit as an artist), Rainy Night In Georgia and Groupie Girl, have become rock and roll evergreens, covered by many, many artists and allowing White to earn a living as a songwriter even as his under-the-radar albums stay unknown to the public but worshipped by true music fans who love his foot-stomping boogie beats, masterful guitar work and swampy rock/country songs.
And before ya say something like, ‘sure, he wrote a couple of hit songs, so what’ consider he’s made a career out of using his thick Southern drawl, his womper-stomper (a wooden board he stomps on to create a beat while he plays guitar – yeah, that’s right, a fucking wooden BOARD – how’s that for primal?) and a guitar to create songs many people consider legendary. As a plus, the French love him and treat him like a hero when he tours there!
Believe me, Tony Joe White could take those White Stripes off of Jack White, tie Jack’s ass up with them, shove some Black Keys up Jack’s ass and still have time to sing a cool little ditty about some trolls who love rock and roll, dig? I mean, twenty albums (all of them cooler than shit) and 40 years of singing swamp pop ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at.
But, like all true artists, Tony Joe has had his down times. Pretty much labelless from 1983 to 1999, White survived off of songwriting royalties, selling homemade albums out of his car, and touring Europe. While not a bad life, surely not fitting a songwriter and personality such as him.
Thankfully, at the dawn of the millenium, things started turning around. People gave him deals, good ones, and since 2000 White has released about six albums and had a bunch of others reissued on labels large and small. Just this year he has two releases: one on New West Records featuring an Austin City Limits TV appearance from 1982 and a new studio album featuring duets with male rockers Mark Knopfler, J.J. Cale, and Eric Clapton among others. The new studio set is a companion piece to his last studio record in 2004 on which he duetted with female artists like Shelby Lynne and Lucinda Williams.
As his nickname suggests, Tony Joe White keeps shedding old personas like a snake sheds skin and comes back new and improved every few years or so. Right now, he is on the tear of his career and if you have a chance to see him live I would pay whatever he is asking (and double it!) and see a legend in action. Until you have the good fortune to do that though, please pick up his records. Every one of them is a gem and any blues or rock fan will get a supreme delight out of hearing him do his stuff.
He is a true original. Please check him out, buy yourself a wooden board and maybe write your own best sellers like Tony Joe does.
Who knows about wooden boards?
The Music Nerd knows…..????!!!!????
I’ve been sick. I’m at about 35% right now. If I felt better, though, I’d be dancing in the streets.
Yesterday, walking along Flatbush, I passed a gentleman who had just emerged from McDonalds and who, by his dress, had hopefully seen better times. He looked as if, at some point in his life, he had tried in his way to be free. The man didn’t look at me but above me, towards the source of several throaty graaas and skveets. (I must confess that, at the time, I didn’t realize what I was hearing were graaas and skveets; but the reference materials I’ve since read assure me that’s indeed what I heard.) After I passed the man, I heard him crying out excitedly behind me, and turned to find him looking skyward. Pointing to the top of the telephone pole that stood between us, he approached me and said, “Peruvian parrots! I heard about them a year ago, but this is the first time I’ve seen them!” I looked up and, to be sure, several bright green birds sat on the telephone wire or fluttered in and out of the stick nest they had crafted around the transformer.
“They’re the only parrots that make their nests like that,” I told him. “Other parrots just use a hole in a tree.” The birds often breed colonially in their single large nests, with separate entrances for each couple. Known as Monk Parakeets, or Quaker Parrots, the birds belong to a species of parrots that originally hailed from Brazil and Argentina. Legend has it that in 1967 or 1968, a large shipment of the birds, destined for sale at New York City pet shops, escaped at JFK. Over the prevailing decades, the birds established their domain and now, throughout Brooklyn, their nests are commonplace atop telephone poles, created around the warmth of the transformers (which apparently sometimes overheat and catch fire).
According to the experts, the birds are highly intelligent and social creatures. Those kept as pets routinely develop large vocabularies. The in-the-wild Brooklyn variety, however, are only known to say “Oy vey!” and “Fuhgeddaboudit!”
Yesterday, the man, still mesmerized by the site of the brightly colored wildlife, an unexpected gift outside the golden arches, reached over and touched my arm as he said, “They’re a blessing.”
Andy Warhol’s “Tarzan and Jane Regained . . . Sort Of “
Wallace Berman’s “Aleph”
With respect to my father’s exhibition (Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and his Circle) that is taking place at the Berkeley Museum, there will be some cool films along with the show. My father’s film “Aleph” will be shown as well as the rare Andy Warhol film starring the great Taylor Mead as well as my father and yours truly playing “Boy.” I know…. Don’t ask!
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 21
7:30 Beat Films
Hailed in its time as a harbinger of a new film movement that prized spontaneity and lived experience, Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie’s Pull My Daisy (1959) is perhaps the ultimate Beat film, narrated by Jack Kerouac and featuring Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Peter Orlovsky. Plus: Aleph (Wallace Berman, 1956-66); Breakaway (Bruce Conner, 1966); The End (Christopher Maclaine, 1953); A Movie (Bruce Conner, 1958).
SUNDAY DECEMBER 3
2:00 Tarzan and Jane Regained . . . Sort Of
Andy Warhol (1963)
Wallace Berman, Taylor Mead, Claes Oldenburg, and other art stars appear in an Andy Warhol romp through 1963 L.A., including Berman’s backyard. With Lawrence Jordan’s Triptych in Four Parts (1958), featuring Berman, Michael McClure and John Reed.
PFA Theater: 2575 Bancroft Way at Bowditch, Berkeley, CA
Info: (510) 642-1124 Advance Tickets: (510) 642-5249
Finally, something so earth-shatteringly good that I break my vow of silence…
This is a vintage audition tape sent to Stanley Kubrick for Full Metal Jacket. I alway liked Modine in that movie, but now I’m starting to wonder if Kubrick picked the wrong guy.