Sunday, October 15, 2017

2017 - October 15 - Tin Soldier

I really like The Small Faces... Kenney Jones on drums, Ian McLagan on organ/keyboards, and the leaders, Steve Marriott on guitar and vocals and Ronnie Lane on bass and vocals. Eventually they added Peter Frampton, and then it all collapsed. However, it didn't collapse until after they had released some mighty powerful music on both Decca (which also was the home of The Rolling Stones) and Immediate Records (which was run by The Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham). As part of their Immediate output, they released the song Tin Soldier in 1967, the second of two instant classics (the other was Itchycoo Park - and yes, I expect to play that one as well). Tin Soldier was not released on any regular album - it was a single only. It is a Steve Marriott composition - and he also takes the lead vocals on it...

Saturday, October 14, 2017

2017 - October 14 - Uninvited

I don't know what made me think about this song today, but I remember when I first heard it and how incredibly powerful it was. Alanis Morissette was a powerhouse in the late 90s. Her albums Jagged Little Pill and Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie sold well, she had a great live band (featuring Taylor Hawkins, who left to join the Foo Fighters), and she seemed unstoppable (even though there was the great SNL line, going something like, Alanis, not everything you write in your journal is a song - referencing her very strange phrasing of words in her songs to make the words she wanted fit the song.

Today's song is a great example of that. I had never understood what she sang (but now I do because the words are in the YouTube link). Her syllables are stretched and pronounced in ways that completely prevented me from hearing them. But... The music spoke to me. So simple, yet building and building to an incredible climax. The use of dynamics is spectacular.

This is from the Wim Wenders movie City of Angels. This is Uninvited.

Friday, October 13, 2017

2017 - October 13 - I Ain't Superstitious

Friday the 13th. Long held to be a day of bad luck... It's a good thing we have Willie Dixon to set the record straight... Granted, it was recorded by Howling Wolf in 1961, and artists as far apart as Santana and Megadeth have also had their take on it. But... Then there is Jeff Beck - from the album Truth from 1968 featuring Rod Stewart on vocals... Yeah, now we're talking... I Ain't Superstitious.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

2017 - October 12 - Somewhere In Space

Today's featured musician was weird. By any standard. Just plain weird. What else can you say about someone who takes on a name after the Egyptian sun god Ra. However, he created some wonderfully strange music. Today's tune, Somewhere In Space is by Sun Ra and His Myth Science Orchestra, and it is one of the more accessible pieces. He was out there in thought and in music, but there is something very compelling about that...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

2017 - October 11 - 'Round Midnight

So I missed a great milestone yesterday - the late great Thelonious Monk would have turned 100. I got introduced to Monk late - just a few years ago, I believe it might have been in the music appreciation class I took at MCC. What I found was a composer and pianist capable of devastating beauty and intricacy. There are so many tracks to play, but this is one of my absolute favorites. 'Round Midnight has become a jazz standard since it was written in the early 40s and recorded in 1944, and I first got to know Miles Davis' version with the haunting muted trumpet. However, in 1957, Thelonious Monk released a solo piano album, Thelonious Himself, and that's where this solo piano version of 'Round Midnight is found. I am glad I discovered Monk - he is a true treasure in jazz, and he was born one hundred years and a day ago today.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

2017 - October 10 - No Quarter

It's been quiet from me again for about a week, but have no fear, I am back again... I have known this was the song I would play today for quite some time - I just had to think about the approach for a minute or so (maybe 10,000 minutes, but who's counting). Anyway - the song is No Quarter and the artist is Led Zeppelin. And the version is from Celebration Day, so it is only 10 years old, and it features Jason Bonham on drums.

I think this might start my trinity series... I have three favorite Led Zeppelin songs that tower over anything else they've done, so I started thinking about finding three songs from other bands as well - especially if there is one of them I haven't played yet. For Led Zeppelin, my trinity is When The Levee Breaks from their fourth album (1971), Kashmir from Physical Grafitti (1975), and today's song, No Quarter, from Houses Of The Holy (1973) - although I play the live version from 2007.

I still remember when I got Houses Of The Holy. I bought it on cassette tape, and it wasn't very expensive. I remember wondering about the song titles, especially D'yer Mak'er, wondering how the hell I was supposed to pronounce that (hint: Jamaica - but that took a lot of reading of their history to figure out). But I had no expectations at all to No Quarter, a song that came out of nowhere and swept me off in a blizzard, because that is what I am feeling (the winds of Thor are blowing cold). This is John Paul Jones' finest moment in Led Zeppelin - his electric piano completely owns this song. And Jimmy Page's guitar isn't far behind. Bonzo's drumming was always understated on this song - but in his son Jason Bonham's hands, it gets even better. And Robert Plant... Well... He is Robert Plant. He is releasing a new solo album on Friday, and I am excited about that.

But to me, No Quarter is simply one of Led Zeppelin's finest moments - regardless of version. And I hope you will enjoy it as well...

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

2017 - October 3 - Into The Great Wide Open

What a weekend... I took time off from just about everything to spend with my parents before they left for Norway again. I had to teach on Friday, but other than that I didn't do much that could be considered productive... So over the scope of this one weekend, we ended up watching soccer, celebrating my mom's birthday, visiting Grand Rapids' tourist trap #1, Artprize, where I ran into Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top but was too starstruck to get a picture taken, having them leave - and then take in news of death and destruction. I won't comment directly on the shooting in Vegas outside saying it's a tragedy. However, too many news outlets and people are doing too much speculation, and it's not doing anyone any good. Just report the facts as they come out. Talk about the aftermath. But this incessant analysis of what could be behind the shooting is bullshit in its purest form. Until trained people gather a ton of information and have the full picture, it is a waste of air to speculate based on the steady trickle of information leaking from who knows where...

And then there was Tom Petty. I wasn't the biggest fan, but I liked him a lot. I like that he got to finish what he already had labeled his final tour. There is poetry in that to me. But I will miss his voice. Free Falling has had a great place in my heart for a long time, but today I want to play another one of his great songs: Into The Great Wide Open, the title track from his 1991 album. How many stars can you identify in this video?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

2017 - September 28 - Anthem

I love Steve Wynn’s 1990 album Kerosene Man, which also was his solo debut. This was right around the time I discovered him as well, as a result of a more or less chance visit to a solo acoustic gig at Skansen, which also happened to be the club where my parents met a long, long, long, long time ago. It was also the same venue where I saw my first rock concert seeing TNT around 1985. The club is no longer there, but Steve Wynn is still going strong with a reunited Dream Syndicate. Today’s song is not about our supreme leader or the NFL - but it is an awesome song. It is Anthem.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

2017 - September 27 - Toe to Toes

Mastodon released Empire Of The Sun earlier this year. It is a solid album, but to me, the highlight from the recording sessions was not included on the album itself, but rather on the very recently released Cold Dark Place EP. The video features studio antics, but the song is quintessential Mastodon. The song is Toe to Toes.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

2017 - September 26 - Die Mauer (The Wall)

There isn't much to say. Die Mauer was written about the Berlin Wall, but it's just as relevant today. It tells the story of two lovers who lived blocks apart, but were separated by the wall. We all saw how spectacularly well the Berlin Wall worked (yes, that was sarcasm) - and now our Supreme Leader will try a much longer version of it.

Ebba Grön was one of my favorite punk rock bands, and this song is simply great! I shared a new version of it on Facebook yesterday, it was done by Joy M'Batha in a very powerful way, so check it out (it was on Swedish TV's program Ebbots Ark). But the original is also powerful, so here is Ebba Grön with Die Mauer (The Wall).

And then there is a more recent version by Pimme himself - Thåström