Friday, April 26, 2013

Hank Williams Jr. - "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)" (forgotten song)

I wasn't planning to post today, but in the space of an hour:

1.  I received an email from Drew that the usual suspects from HS were planning a get together in early June.

2.  I read that country music legend George Jones died today

Put those together, and you get Hank William Jr's 1981 hit "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)". 

We had a great time last year at Drew's wedding & bachelor party, although for the latter starting the festivities in the early afternoon made it a bit of challenge to stay out to last call @ 2am:
All my rowdy friends have settled down
And they seem to be more into laid back songs
Nobody wants to get drunk and get loud
Everybody just wants to go back home
We did manage it, but perhaps we should start later in the day this year (quitting before last call would just be shameful).  Of course, that's the way of things -- what chance do we stand if the epic benders of George Jones and other friends of Bocephus come to an end:
And I think I know what my father meant when he sang about a lost highway
and old George Jones I'm glad to see he's finally getting straight,
and Waylon staying home and loving Jesse more these days,
and nobody wants to get drunk and get loud and all my rowdy friends have settled down.

Yeah I think I know what my father meant when he sang about his lost highway
and Johnny Cash don't act like he did back in '68
and Kris he is a movie star and he's moved off to L.A.
and nobody wants to get drunk and get loud and all my rowdy friends have settled down

"All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)": studio version, live version (ca. 1985?)

Obligatory George Jones song: "White Lightning"

P.S.  Hank, I love your paens about the lovable, self-destructive man-child archetype, but when it comes to political commentary, please STFU.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Unkle - "Do Androids Dream of Electric Beats?" (LP Review)

Although this is "only" a bootleg, it is one of the prized members of my CD collection.  Unkle's* 2001 triple LP "Do Androids Dream of Electric Beats?" might be the best DJ mix I've heard.  Unkle has always been James Lavelle and whomever he is working with at the time (at this point, it was Richard File -- but make no mistake, this is James Lavelle's vision).  Originally intended for a Japanese radio show, this is not your ordinary club/ dance mix and is more suited for a theater than a club.  With the title being a clever nod to Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and the cover art from Futura 2000, the sci-fi theme is clearly established.  In my review of "The Less You Know, The Better", I described Lavelle's vision as "the soundtrack to the weird sci-fi movie that only James Lavelle can see."  If you listen to this mix from start to finish, you'll start to catch glimpses of the movie too. 

James Lavelle is an extraordinary DJ, and the set pulls together various tracks and genres that would fail miserably in less expert hands.  In addition to the usual suspects from Lavelle's label Mo' Wax, there are The Beatles, The Stones, Rare Earth, Fleetwood Mac, Iggy Pop and other surprises.  I could try to write more about it, but fortunately due to its not-quite-legal status, it is pretty easy to find on the web.  Just listen (each disc is just a single track):

Disc one -- "Shin" Youtube, Soundcloud
Disc two -- "Gi" Youtube, Soundcloud
Disc three -- "Tai" Youtube, Salacious Sound

All three discs in a single Youtube playlist.  You'll have to look at the Wikipedia and Discogs sites to piece together the source material for each track. 

Don't even think about finding an original version -- there were only 500 copies made, and even the bootleg versions command a pretty stiff price now.

Standout songs: n/a. 

Skip 'em songs: n/a

Final Score: 9/10  You read a lot about DJ sets being a "journey", well this is a textbook example.  And if "Do Androids Dream of Electric Beats?" is a textbook, then James Lavelle is your teacher.

* I've chosen to credit this to "Unkle", although this was released as Unklesounds, or UNKLESounds, or UNKLE Sounds, depending on what you read.  Add to the confusion is the fact that James Lavelle & guest have also released UNKLE, U.N.K.L.E., and other variations.  I'm lumping them all under "Unkle".

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pink Floyd - "Cymbaline" (forgotten song)

I'm always surprised at the rare concert footage you can find on Youtube.  Not long ago I found this June 15th, 1971 recording of Pink Floyd performing "Cymbaline" in a church (Abbaye de Royaumont, France) for French TV.  Supposedly it is available on the bootleg DVD "Pro-Shot In Europe 1969-1972", but I have not been able to find a copy.  The sound quality is great, but the cinematography is... "interesting".  I think the idea was to capture the feel of the church itself, but instead it seems like the cameraman can't find the band for the first minute or so.  Once the camerman discovers where the band has setup their gear, it settles into a good video (typical for the era, a single cameraman wanders amongst the band as they play).

I've already covered the song in the context of the 1970 concert "An Hour With Pink Floyd (KQED)" (also only available as a bootleg DVD).   The KQED version is similar, but slightly longer and maybe a little bit heavier. Also, it features an odd 30 second pause in the action starting at ~6:00. 

The studio version originally appeared on the 1969 "Soundtrack from the Film More".  A really good LP in its own right, I have this on tape (recorded during college sometime), but I really need to get this on CD. 

The June 1971 recording might be one of the last live performances of "Cymbaline"; by the time of the October 1971 recording of "Live at Pompeii", "Cymbaline" had been replaced by new material from "Meddle".

It might be my favorite Pink Floyd song, and it is surely one that I can listen to over and over again. 
The path you tread is narrow
And the drop is shear and very high
The ravens all are watching
From a vantage point nearby
Apprehension creeping
Like a tube-train up your spine
Will the tightrope reach the end
Will the final couplet rhyme?
Cymbaline - live 1971-06-15 (from "Pro-Shot in Europe 1969-1972")
Cymbaline - live 1970-04-29 (on Vimeo since Youtube regularly squelches the KQED videos)
Cymbaline - studio version (with footage from the movie "More")

In case you were wondering, the final couplet doesn't rhyme.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Cribs - "Payola" (LP Review)

"10 years on and 2001 is long gone
So I didn't wanna write another leather jacket love song"

Those are the opening lyrics to "Leather Jacket Love Song", the only previously unreleased song on the The Cribs 2013 singles compilation "Payola".  It's also a great song and an appropriate way to describe a ten year retrospective.  It is also indicative of what's disappointing with "Payola" -- only one unreleased song. 

There are actually two versions of "Payola": a single CD with 21 singles from their first five LPs and the one unreleased song, and a "deluxe" double CD that also includes 18 b-sides, bonus songs, and non-LP singles.   Of course I have all of albums and many of the singles and EPs, so my interest was in the deluxe edition to try to fill out some of the songs that I was missing. 

Much like my review of "Preemptive Strike", I'm reviewing the collection as a collection, not really the songs themselves.  The songs are great, but on a collection like this you have to review how the collection itself was created.  My problem with "Payola" is that 1) it oversamples the later LPs, and 2) doesn't have enough hard-to-find material for completists.  On disc 1, only seven songs (of 21) come from the first two LPs.  But as a collector, I really want to talk about disc 2.  The Cribs have always had a strong focus on singles and their associated b-side; for example, see their 7" collector box set.  Not being a 7" collector, I was hoping to get canonical copies of many of their hard-to-find songs.  Here's a list of their non-LP songs, roughly in order of the time frames of the corresponding LPs, with "*" indicating presence on "Payola":

The Cribs (2004):

On The Floor
Death To The Dead Bodies
Feelin' It!
I Gotta Go To LA
Song From Practice 1

The New Fellas (2005):

Happy's Just A State Of Mind And A State Of Mind Is Just Electrical Impulses           
*It Happened So Fast           
North Of England                               
I'm Still Blaming You          
*Saturday Night Facts Of Life
*To Jackson            
I Was Her Man But I Done Her Wrong             
*Advice For A Roving Artist
*Non-LP single: You're Gonna Lose Us

Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever (2007):

*Kind Words From The Broken Hearted            
*Fairer Sex            
*My Adolescent Dreams          
Run A Mile             
*Get Yr Hands Out Of My Grave          
*Bastards Of Young
I'm a Realist (Postal Service Remix)
*Non-LP single: Don't You Wanna Be Relevant?

Ignore the Ignorant (2009):

*So Hot Now
Curse This English Rain
*Is Anybody There?
Non-LP single: Housewife

In the Belly of the Brazen Bull (2012):

*Glandular Fever Got The Best Of Me
*On A Hotel Wall
*Eat Me
*Better Than Me
*Don't Believe In Me

Again, the bias toward later material is evident -- there are no b-sides from the era of their first LP and five songs from their 2012 LP.  B-sides from the era of their second LP are well-represented, but unfortunately for me those five songs are also on the 2006 Japanese-only EP "Arigato Cockers".  Apparently that EP is hard to get, so I consider myself lucky for having a copy and I guess I can't really fault their inclusion on this collection.  The songs from the era of MNWNW are excellent and deserve more coverage than they receive, but unfortunately for me the only one I did not already have was The Replacements' cover "Bastards of Young".  I did not have any of the included songs from the era of the last two LPs, and although I already have "Curse This English Rain", I don't see how one could exclude this excellent song twice: once on "Ignore the Ignorant" and now on "Payola". 

I'm also disappointed in how they treated the non-LP singles.  "You're Gonna Lose Us" and "Don't You Want to Be Relevant" are excellent songs, but they should appear on disc 1.  Also, the single-sided 7" from the Johnny Marr-era, "Housewife", is still effectively unavailable -- that should be on disc 1 as well. Speaking of Johnny Marr, "Leather Jacket Love Song" is the last song he recorded with The Cribs and it is excellent -- this should have been a single in its own right. 

So in addition to the one unreleased song, I already had 10/18 of the songs on disc 2, and I'm no closer to getting copies of the really obscure songs from 2004 & 2005.  So while "Payola" is welcome, it is also a bit frustrating that the collection falls short of what it could have been.

Standout songs: nearly all of them, but here is a list of songs not covered in other reviews: "Leather Jacket Love Song" (live version for NME), "Fairer Sex" (2007 live version; Payola has the studio version), "Get Yr Hands Out Of My Grave", "Bastards of Young" (2007 live version; Payola has the studio version), "Glandular Fever Got The Best Of Me", "On A Hotel Wall"

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final score: 8/10.  I wish they had included some of the earlier leather jacket love songs.

N.B. Yes, I have not yet reviewed "In the Belly of the Brazen Bull" or "Live at the Brudenell Social Club".  I'm working on it.