Category Archives: Paul

Paul’s Favorite New Music of 2018 Part 1

Its been another great year for music, both reconnecting with the classic songs I grew up with, older songs I love, and discovering new music.  I really feel that one way to stay young is to seek out all the great new artists and music that’s being continually made.  So here are some of my favorites from 2018 in no particular order (but I will save my favorite for last).  These are the songs and in a couple cases whole albums that connected with me this past year.  I’ll do this in 2 posts, here’s post 1.

Skinny Lister – Thing Like That

I first got into this self described “shanty punk” band when they opened for Frank Turner a few years back and saw them live earlier this year.  This song is their statement about all the craziness that has been happening in their own country re: Brexit and in the US with the election of Trump.

 

Amy Shark – I Said Hi

Great pop song from an artist getting a lot of attention down under in her native Australia. She’s been quoted saying this song is “It’s an anthem for anyone who is waking up everyday fighting for what they believe in and challenging the universe!”  And its catchy too!

 

Miya Folick – Thingamajig

Off her debut album Premonitions, this hauntingly beautiful song is all about saying your sorry and truly meaning it.

 

The West Coast Feed – You Belong to Me

I first heard about this 9 piece self described “swagger rock/soul” band off a fellow music blogger’s site (but I am forgetting who!).  I love the video where they completely upend the laid back cocktail party.  If this doesn’t get your toes tapping, there is no hope!

 

Liz Brasher – Body of Mine

This quote from this Memphis based artist says it all: “I don’t like rules, and I don’t like to be put into a box.  I make music that’s garage rock meets the Delta blues meets gospel meets soul. It’s southern music — my version of southern music.” This sultry song sums it up perfectly.

 

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

My partner in crime Mike turned me onto this Denver based band.  I love the old school soul/R&B vibe of this song off their album Tearing at the Seams

 

Post 2 coming soon….

 

 

 

It’s Christmas Eve!

Ah, settling in for a nice evening with family and Christmas movies…

Wait, what’s that noise?!?

MUST BE SANTA!!

I’ve said before that one of the great things about doing a music blog is getting turned on to music I may not have heard of before – perfect example, Thom at The Immortal Jukebox posted a wonderful entry last night on Christmas (here), and included this video.  I knew Dylan had done a Christmas album but had not checked it out.  I have no idea why he is wearing a wig in the video, or what’s going on with the altercation and chase at the end of the video, but the look that Dylan and Santa exchange at the end is priceless.  My new favorite Christmas song and video!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

 

A few of my favorite Christmas songs

Christmas songs – there are as much a part of the holidays as all the other traditions – at least in our house.  Start with the canon of songs, perhaps a couple dozen or so?  This leads to endless variations on the same songs, some of which are horrendous, most just shrug your shoulders eh?, and few good ones.  Of course, I realize that what fits in that last category varies widely – as the saying goes, your mileage may vary.  Here are some of my favorites.

Eurythmics – Winter Wonderland

From the very first A Very Special Christmas benefit album from 1987 – I really love Annie Lennox’s vocals on this track, and very Eurythmics take on this classic

 

Brenda Lee – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Sixty years old this year, this song by Johnny Marks (who also wrote Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer) has always seemed a modern addition to the canon (even though it is 60 years old, when rock was in its infancy).  Brenda Lee was 13 years old when she recorded it.

 

Chet Atkins, Jingle Bell Rock

Originally recorded in 1957 by Bobby Helms, this instrumental version by Chet Atkins was first released in 1961.  Somehow hearing the song without the lyrics and just Atkins playing makes it a better song imho.

 

Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmas Time is Here

I could pick any song off this album, the soundtrack to the 1965 classic A Charlie Brown Christmas.  One of my favorite Christmas shows with a real message, and an thoroughly original set of songs that worked perfectly.

 

Pretenders – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Another choice from A Very Special Christmas, Chrissie Hynde’s vocal take on this 1944 classic of the canon makes this song one of my favorites.

 

Bruce Springsteen and the E. St. Band – Santa Claus is Coming to Town

If you know me, or have followed this blog for any length of time, this isn’t a surprise – how could I include a list of favorite Christmas songs without including Bruce’s version of this classic! –  of course I am biased, but I think this is one of those rare occasions where the cover version meets or exceeds the original!  Just love this version!

Anyway, again, very best wishes to everyone for a joyous holiday season!

Take it away Bruce!

 

 

Here Comes Shatner Claus!

Ah, the holiday season.  A time to celebrate with family and friends, to partake in long standing traditions of religious services, meal sharing, gift giving.  And as music lovers, to appreciate the music of the season.

So just in time for Christmas, we have a new album from William Shatner (of Star Trek Captain Kirk fame) called “Shatner Claus”.  Shatner, the self described “godfather of dramatic musical interpretation” (ahem…) has released a number of “albums” over the years in a number of genres.  I’m not sure what is meant by dramatic musical interpretation, but if it means Shatner talk/singing lyrics to songs in his patented way over the top, overly emotional dramatic to the point of farce way, then he is in peak form on this album.  The songs are so distractedly bad that when listening to it for the first time on my way home from work, I accidentally took the wrong exit off the freeway (a route I have taken so often I could normally do it in my sleep!)

Interestingly (or amazingly in my mind) he has recruited a number of legitimate musicians to accompany him on these songs.  Its an eclectic mix, from Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, to Brad Paisley, Judy Collins, and Rick Wakeman of Yes.  In a number of cases, this makes the songs tolerable, until of course we begin with the “dramatic musical interpretation of Santa Shatner.

So what does it sound like?- picture if you will the obnoxious uncle who comes over for the holiday celebration, has too much to drink, and commandeers the Christmas song karaoke machine to entertain the family.  Let me give you some examples.

Have you ever wondered what Jingle Bells would sound like if on the sleigh ride you brought along a case of beer, and had Henry Rollins along to scream “JINGLE BELLS!!” at you?  Well, here you go:

Winter Wonderland is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and when done right, it can really conjure up a beautiful traditional Christmas scene, even if its not snowing outside.  And then there’s this.

After this performance, perhaps the other adults suggest you take your uncle out to get something to eat – unfortunately, the restaurant you choose is playing Christmas music, and Feliz Navidad comes on – Uncle Bill (after a few more drinks) decides he really needs to wish everyone in the restaurant a Merry Christmas.  Well, it might sound something like this.

And it goes on from there.  I won’t torture you with many more – but if you wonder how Silent Night as done by Shatner and Iggy Pop might sound, or Shatner’s take on the “ba radda da dum” of Little Drummer Boy” you’re on your own.  Oh, and there is also a punk rock version of Jingle Bells again with Henry Rollins that sounds like an outtake after a long night of drinking – just perfect for the family sing along.

I leave you with the only official video from the album, Shatner Claus “singing” Rudoph the Red Nosed Reindeer” with some help from Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.  If you can ignore the creepy elves and the fact that they appear to have decided midway through to finish the song at a college frat party/rave with Santa dressed as a Vegas lounge singer, its not that bad….

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Digging in the Garage – Episode 2

Time for a second episode of Digging in the Garage, where I feature some of my favorite garage tunes, as heard on Nuggets or Little Steven’s Underground Garage.  See here for the inaugural episode which has more background.  Let’s get digging.

First up, (We Ain’t Got) Nothing Yet by the Blues Magoos.

The Magoos were a Bronx psychedelic rock band that was part of the NY scene in the mid 60’s, along with The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Youngbloods. According to Songfacts, the Magoos were a huge influence on Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd.   Released in October 1966 on the album Psychedelic Lollipop, the song reached #5 on the US charts in February 1967.  The boastfulness of the lyrics about being on their way to massive success was apparently matched in their live performances, where they wore electric blue suits with flashing lights.  Ironically, it was their only hit.

 

Outside Chance – The Turtles

The Turtles are best know for their #1 single Happy Together, which famously knocked the Beatles Penny Lane out of the top spot in the American charts.  The vocalists Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman later achieved fame as Flo & Eddie.  Outside Chance was a single released in 1966 that amazingly failed to chart.  Fun fact – the song was co-written by a young Warren Zevon.  I love the contrariness of the lyrics – rather than pleading with the girl to love him, the singer flatly states: Stone walls surround me I’m surprised that you even found me, And you don’t stand an outside chance.  Although perhaps there is hope, since the next line is: But you can try!

 

Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love)The Swingin’ Medallions

This is one of my favorite songs of all time.  A classic example of “frat rock,” so called because the record sounds like it was recorded during a frat party (with party voices in the background).  The Swingin’ Medallions were from, of all places, Greenwood, South Carolina – which just goes to show you that great songs can come from anywhere.  Their 1966 cover of Double Shot (originally recorded in 1964 by Dick Holler & the Holidays) went to #17 on the charts.  It contains the all time time classic line It wasn’t wine that I had too much of, It was a double shot of my baby’s love.  Hilariously, it was banned from some radio stations (perhaps in the South?) for its mention of drinking and sex.  My how times have changed.  Anyway, I first heard of it on a Springsteen bootleg where Bruce mentions it while introducing Sherry Darling (an homage to frat rock songs).

 

If you have any favorite garage songs you think I should feature, let me know in the comments.

Til next time…

Sources: Wikipedia, Genius Lyrics, SongFacts.

Creeps, Deviants and Psychopaths

So its that time of year – Halloween.  Traditionally its has been associated with ghosts, vampires, and monsters.  Spooky fun.  But in the US, especially in the last 50 years, the holiday has also become associated with slasher flicks, serial killers, and other psychopaths – blame John Carpenter’s classic movie Halloween.  Or maybe not – maybe this is just my excuse to do a blog on some of my favorite songs about creeps and deviants.  I’m sure there’s a whole subgenre of these songs that I’m not aware of – my picks are by artists that you’ve probably heard of and that I’ve always liked.  And one is probably the creepiest song I have ever heard.  So without further adieu:

More Than I Can Do- Steve Earle

From his come back album of sorts, I Feel Alright, this uptempo song seems at first to just be about a guy’s unrequited love for someone – but as it continues it definitely moves into stalker territory.  “You left me just when I needed you
So l ain’t even close to through with you.”  Definitely Creepy.

I Feel So GoodRichard Thompson

From Rumor and Sigh, this song is definitely not an endorsement for the ability to reform juvenile delinquents.  Again, a pretty uptempo melody but there’s no denying where things are going right from the start: “I feel so good I’m going to Break somebody’s heart tonight I feel so good I’m going to Take someone apart tonight.’ And it goes from there.  Definitely Deviant.

Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon

From the album of the same name, this darkly humorous little ditty from the incomparable Warren Zevon starts weird and moves straight to deviant/psychopathic.  Zevon’s tongue in cheek lyrics – “He’s just an excitable boy” also perhaps are a dark commentary on society’s penchant for making excuses?  Also love the sax solo.

Midnight Rambler – The Rolling Stones

From Let It Bleed, this classic song from the Stones is pure psychopathy and evil.  It was written in part about Albert De Salvo, aka the Boston Strangler, who murdered 13 women in the early 60’s Boston area. Keith Richards has called it a blue opera, or a blues in 4 parts, even though the chord sequence isn’t a blues one.

And the finale, the song that always creeps me out just listening to it –

What’s He Building in There – Tom Waits.

From the album Mule Variations.  Not really a song, as much as a spoken word performance with a montage of assorted random background sounds.  Is it about a misunderstood freak?  A deviant, or something darker?  That’s the beauty of it – you can only wonder.   If you listen to any of these songs, listen to this one – even in the middle of the day,  it’ll freak you out.

Ok I have to go turn on every light in the house right now – til later…… oh, and Happy Halloween!

Sources: Wikipedia, Genius Lyrics, SongFacts

Digging in the Garage – Inaugural Edition

One great thing about the music blogosphere is being exposed to other’s musical tastes and experiencing great music you’ve never heard before or had forgotten about.

This is how I got turned back on to early garage rock.  Someone somewhere mentioned Nuggets, the great early compilation of garage and psychedelic singles of the 60’s.  The original Nuggets (official title Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968) put together by Lenny Kaye was a 2 disc compilation released in 1972 by Elektra Records.  Subsequent versions were released by Rhino Records in the 80’s.

Between listening to these, along with multiple episodes of Little Steven’s Underground Garage (as part of “research” for my blogs on Little Steven (here and here), I’ve heard some great tunes.

So I thought it would be fun to do a recurring feature highlighting 2-3 of my favorite finds (or re-finds) from time to time.  I’m going to be pretty broad in what gets in – if its shown up on Nuggets, or the Underground Garage, or by a band that was on either, its eligible.  Thus, the Digging in the Garage title!  Get it?

For this first one, let’s start as Nuggets does, with “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)” by The Electric Prunes.  Great song title and band name!  The Prunes formed in 1965 in Los Angeles and recorded 2 albums before breaking up in 1968.  Their name apparently started as a joke, but they decided to keep it since it was so unusual, it would be memorable to listeners. Too Much to Dream was  written by Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz, and was the band’s second single. In 1967 it reached # 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The oscillating reversed guitar sound which opens the song was done by lead guitarist Ken Williams with his 1958 Gibson Les Paul and a Bigsby vibrato unit and then played backwards.

Next up, Don’t Look Back, by Barry and the Remains.  The Remains, from Boston, formed in 1964 and achieved a strong following in the New England area.  Their biggest claim to fame was opening for the Beatles on the Fab Four’s last US tour in 1966.  Don’t Look Back, written by Billy Vera, was from their debut album, 1966’s The Remains.  Ironically, opening for the Beatles didn’t break them nationally, and they actually had broken up prior to the album’s release.  I especially like the “Shout” type interlude midway through the song.

Next, let’s go to Cleveland for The Outsiders and Time Won’t Let Me.  The band had been playing as an R&B band the Starfires until changing their name in 1965.  Time Won’t Let Me, written by rhythm guitarist Tom King and his brother-in-law Chet Kelly, was a Top 5 hit in 1966 and became a million seller.  I love the combination of the 12 string guitar riff and the horn section chart.

Le’ts wrap up this edition in the Pacific Northwest, with Have Love Will Travel by The Sonics, from Tacoma WA.  The Sonics formed in 1961 but had their greatest success starting in 1964-65.  Have Love Will Travel was on their 1965 debut album Here Are The Sonics, and is a cover of the 1959 version by Richard Berry (fun fact: he also wrote Louie, Louie).  With its fuzzy guitars, booming drums, dirty sax, and screaming vocals, plus its primitive recording method, it seemed to come from an entirely different universe compared to most other songs of the time.  The Sonics are seen as precursors of punk, and this song is a great example.  If this song doesn’t at least get your toes tapping, check your pulse – you may not have one!

Well, that’s all for now.  I’ll have more nuggets in the future.

Source: Wikipedia

Nuggets image: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10513930