Sunday, September 28, 2008

10 More Random Albums

Tchaikovksy Schwaneness (Swan Lake), Dornröschen (The Sleeping Beauty) Berliner Philharmonker Herbert Von Karajan

I read a biography of Karajan about 7 years ago; it was fascinating, the book was fascinating so was his life. Of course I feel a bit guilty about this because Karajan was a Nazi, or at least he was a member of the party – he had to be to work in Germany, just about the time he was getting his professional career underway, and he was denazified by the allies after the war. He didn’t seem to have any strong political convictions either way, and in a way that works both for him and against him. It was an open question throughout his life, something he could never quite put behind him, but nothing anyone could really hang on him either. But it was never resolved, not in the book, though the author was something of an apologist, and not in his life.

Still he was an accomplished conductor, good at Beethoven and the romantics, the German ones, not surprisingly, not as good at the French composers or baroque.

I bought this album for one of my kids, my son I think, because he’d been listening to stuff like this, but I don’t think he ever listened to this album. The suites were not arranged by Tchaikovsky, who only ever arranged a suite of the Nutcracker. That’s by the way.

Wagner’s Greatest Hits

It was Columbia that came up with this idea of releasing greatest hits albums by classical composers. I don’t think it works all that well, I don’t think that taking bits and pieces from this symphony or concerto, that sonata, an aria, gives one a very satisfying musical experience. This collection falls flat.

Ravel Bolero, Missorsgsky Pictures At An Exhibition Herbert Von Karajan Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

This is worth it just for the cover. Deutche Grammophon LP covers were never less than elegant, sometimes as nice as the music inside.

We once heard a performance of Ravel’s Bolero, by the Winnipeg Symphony conducted by Kazuhiro Koizumi, and afterwards he made the snare drummer take an extra bow. I have at least two records with Pictures At An Exhibition, and 3 recordings by Emerson Lake & Palmer, which according to the pundits is 3 too many.

Vivaldi, Le Quattro Stagioni, Roberto Michelucci, I Musici

Everyone has to have The Four Seasons, and so do I. This is a Phillips recording, released in 1969, the cover printed in Holland. It’s a fancy fancy package, with a bunch of notes, and samples of the actual musical notation. This is what we miss when we download music….

Itzhak Perlman,Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1,André Previn, London Symphony Orchestra

André Previn did the soundtrack for Valley Of The Dolls. That has nothing to do with this. I think someone gave me this record. She was a kind of friend of the family, has some serious domestic difficulties, left town to make herself a better life and left me her LPs, all classical. She also taught my son in grade 1.

Sibelius Symphony No. 5 in E flat major op. 82, Finlandia, Herbert Von Karajan, The Philharmonia Orchestra

I think I got this at Value Village. Karajan again, I’m not sure he’s the best Sibelius conductor. Finlandia is bombastic; anyone can do it. This is mono. Angel Records. How long has it been since Angel Records existed? At the very bottom of the back cover it says:

“This monophonic recording will not become obsolete.”

Schubert Octet Op. 166 D.803, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields’ Chamber ensemble

Like so many of these classical albums I bought this one for very little at a little second hand record shop on Vaughn across from The Bay. It was operated by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra who had been doing annual record sales as a fundraiser, and who apparently expanded the concept to a permanent one. I had some fascinating conversations with the guy who used to run the place. I’ll provide details at some point…

Sallah, Original Sound Track From Israel’s Sensational Comedy Film Hit! Starring Haym Topol.

I don’t know anything about this, like where it came from. I never listened to this, and I certainly never saw the movie, which was, according the cover, nominated for an Oscar in 1965. Topol was Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, a few years later. According to imdb, it was called “Sallah Shabati.” And the pictures on the cover made it look like the best film that was ever made in the world.

Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II

Okay, here’s one I can sink my teeth into. I bought this one, back in high school, and I had this one and Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits. And I got into this big time. I still think that it’s a really well put together collection. But it melted. It got left in the sun somewhere or other, and now I still have the vinyl and it’s warped. What a shame. I have all the music, though, elsewhere. Of course.

Mp3 don’t warp. Hurray for mp3s

Mozart “Jupiter” Symphony, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Erich Leinsdorf

Eine Kleine Nachmusik is so common that is sounds hackneyed already. I love the Jupiter though. It’s one of the first classical pieces that I got, in both senses of the word. I think that this is another one that I got from Value Village.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Sons Of The Pioneers

The Best Of The Sons Of The Pioneers

The Best Of The Sons Of The Pioneers

In 1996 I quit my job. I was a professional. I was a professional and I had a career. I’d been working at this “career” for 12 years, and I quit.

What I did then was this. I got a job as a courier. Not very high class that job, but I did it for 9 months, long enough to give birth to a second career (sorry, could not resist). I went back to school then, and ended up doing what I’m doing now.

But being a courier took me all around the city. So guess what? I got to drop in here and there at all these cool libraries that I wouldn’t ordinarily have seen. There was the Pembina Trail and Westwood and Louis Riel and Munroe and Transcona and etc and etc. And each branch has something on CD that was of interest. All those CDs, just waiting for me to come and get them…

I so I think it was Transcona where I found the Sons Of The Pioneers. Transcona is in the east end of the city, and it’s kind of joke, the way Timbuktu is a joke, Transcona being the place that’s so unlikely that living there or going there seems absurd. I don’t know why actually. People live there. It’s not absurd to them. I actually worked there for two years; well I worked at the edge of Transcona, but, weather permitting, I would go out at lunch time and walk across a big field and end up on Regent, where all the action was. That was like the west end of Transcona, Crossroads Shopping Centre, and everything you could ask for, Value Village, Staples, Future Shop, everything.

But the library wasn’t there. It was (is I supposed, I don’t think they’ve moved it) on Day Street, farther to the east. That was more like “downtown” Transcona, and older area, farther away from the real downtown, more esoteric for those of us like me who lived in the city our lives but for whom Transcona was as familiar as Leningrad.

And so I got this western music at the east end of the city. Or I think I did. Let’s just say I did.

Roy Rogers was actually in this group for a while, but Bob Nolan was the real star; he wrote “Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds” and “Cool Water.” And “Riders In The Sky” (aka “Ghost Riders In The Sky”, aka “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky”, aka “Ghost Riders in The Sky (A Cowboy Legend”) is on here, I think the original is by Vaughan Monroe but it should have been by these guys, and that’s one heck of a song if you don’t listen to the words, which are a bit dumb, kind of anti-climactic when you realize that this supernatural tale of a hallucinating cowboy and a phantom herd of cattle is actually just a warning to behave yourself, so I like the Ramrods version, and any other instrumental version. “Cool Water” was done by everyone and his brother too; I have Burl Ives, and a bunch of others, all of whom escape me at the moment, and the Allmusic web site isn’t working very well, so I can’t even look it up. But yeah, Burl Ives.

Ok this is cowboy music, get along little dogie. Love the harmonies…

The Sons Of The Pioneers:

  • Cool Water

  • Room Full Of Roses

  • No One To Cry To

  • San Antonio Rose

  • I Still Do

  • Have I Told You Lately That I Love You

  • Tumbling Tumbleweeds

  • The Everlasting Hills Of Oklahoma

  • Riders In The Sky

  • The Last Round-Up

  • My Best To You

  • Chant Of The Wanderer

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Billie Holiday

The Legacy (1933 - 1958)

The Greatest hitsThe first record I ever borrowed from the West Kildonan Library, from any library in fact, was The Point by Harry Nilsson. They used to keep the covers on display, but the actual LP was behind the counter. They were concerned about theft I imagine.

10¢ it cost to borrow an LP. I think that was for three weeks. Later I started borrowing from the Centennial Library and it cost 10¢ a week, up to 30¢ for 3 weeks. It could get expensive. Later than that, they dropped the charge. It’s been free since forever.

They built the WK library in 1967, that was Canada’s centennial year. I have this very definite but at the same time very vague recollection of going there when it wasn’t there yet; the library was housed in Garden City Collegiate, which was a five minute walk from home. I was 8 or 9, and I even have some recollection of a book I borrowed. I can’t remember the title nor the author, but I have an image in my mind of the story, it was woodsy, maybe someone sitting in a rocker on a porch in the south, maybe, kind of like Erskine Caldwell without the cruelty.

I got a card at the new building straight away. I remember borrowing the biography of Abraham Lincoln, then John Kennedy. I must have had a thing for martyred presidents. That was when I was 10. Last time I was in there I was 45. We had been living two blocks from the library since 1987. We sold the house in 2003. Many pages passed through my hands, and many musical notes. Books, magazines, LPs, cassettes, CDs, VHS.

When they were transitioning from LPs to CDs, they stocked up on box sets. They had the Byrds, Yes, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Bill Monroe, and this one, Billie Holiday

This is a lot of Billie Holiday, but the title is somewhat deceptive. “The Legacy” is ok I guess; it’s the dates that I have trouble with. “1933 – 1958” it says, but in truth, it covers her Columbia recordings until 1942, then skips to the late 50s. Most of her biggies are here, like “God Bless The Child,” and “Summertime” for which she can take credit for putting the song into the jazz repertoire, but “Strange Fruit,” the song she wrote about a lynching, is not here.

I was disappointed once that my mother did not recognize this. It’s from your era, I said, you should know this. She had no clue. I guess Billie Holiday wasn’t so mainstream, and my mother wasn’t so into jazz.

Ah well, God bless the child who has his own…

Billie Holiday:

  • Your Mother's Son-In-Law

  • I Wished On The Moon

  • What A Little Moonlight Can Do

  • Miss Brown To You

  • Saddest Tale

  • If You Were Mine

  • These 'N' That 'N' Those

  • You Let Me Down

  • Life Begins When You're In Love

  • It's Like Reaching For The Moon

  • These Foolish Things

  • Summertime

  • Billie's Blues

  • A Fine Romance

  • I Can't Pretend

  • One, Two Button Your Shoe

  • Let's Call A Heart A Home

  • Easy To Love

  • Pennies From Heaven

  • That's Life I Guess

  • I Can't Give You Anything But Love Baby

  • One Never Knows, Does One?

  • I Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

  • He Aint' Got Rhythm

  • This Year's Kisses

  • Why Was I Born?

  • I Must Have That Man

  • The Mood I'm In

  • (This Is) My Last Affair

  • Moaning Low

  • Where Is The Sun?

  • Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

  • Don't Know If I'm Coming Or Going

  • I'll Get By

  • Mean To Me

  • Foolin' Myself

  • Easy Living

  • I'll Never Be The Same

  • Me, Myself And I

  • A Sailboat In The Moonlight

  • Born To Love

  • Without Your Love

  • They Can't Take That Away From Me

  • Swing, Brother, Swing

  • I Can't Get Started

  • Who Wants Love?

  • Trav'lin All Alone

  • He's Funny That Way

  • My Man

  • I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me

  • When A Woman Loves A Man

  • You Go To My Head

  • Having Myself A Time

  • Says My Heart

  • The Very Thought Of You

  • I Cried For You

  • Jeepers Creepers

  • Long Gone Blues

  • Some Other Spring

  • Them There Eyes

  • Night And Day

  • The Man I Love

  • Let's Do It

  • All Of Me

  • God Bless The Child

  • Gloomy Sunday

  • Until The Real Thing Comes Along

  • Fine And Mellow

  • You've Changed

  • For All We Know

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Last Record Album...

In 1971 Reprise Records released The Cry Of Love which was the first posthumous Jimi Hendrix album. There were many others: Rainbow Bridge, War Heroes, Hendrix In The West, Crash Landing, Midnight Lightning, etc. Some were respectable, some weren’t. Some were good, some weren’t. But over the years I’ve managed to accumulate the main releases (that’s not so easy to define, but so what).

But at some point I became aware than Hendrix had recorded a cover of Dylan’s “Drifter’s Escape." And I got my hands on Lifelines, a CD release of a radio documentary of Hendrix’s life, and it has an “alternate take” of “Drifter’s Escape.” Alternate take? Where’s the non-alternate take? There's a gazillion Hendrix discographies but I had a devil of a time finding out where this track was.

Oh well, I did track it down. Turns out the song found its way on to an album that was released around 1972, and which was called Loose Ends, and which was never released in North America. And so that explains why I never heard of it.

But I’ve heard of it now. And for the last 4 years or so I’ve been trying to find a not-too-expensive copy on eBay, and I’ve finally done it. I bought it. Should be arriving any week now.

I think that’s the last album on my list. I’m serious. I had this whole list of albums I was on the lookout for, and one by one they’ve dropped off, because I got them.

When I was a kid, like 12, 13 years old, I had a list then too. It was huge, ridiculous. I had on it everything by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Hendrix (the more things change…) Cream, The Who, etc etc. I bought two or three albums a year. It was going to take me a while…

But hey. I don’t have the list anymore, but I’d bet I’ve got everything on it. And my eBay list, it wasn’t that big, and it’s done (well not totally, but I don’t think I’ll find a copy of Flash Harry that I can afford any time soon, nor of The Hollies’ Russian Roulette, nor of…)

And so what now? Make a new list? Nah.

What do you do when there’s nothing left to search for?

Well, I could write about it….

Drifter's Escape

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Ink Spots

Greatest Hits

The Greatest hits

The Centennial Library is located nowhere in the world. It is a figment of my imagination. Not so the William Avenue Library, which was, until, it seems, 1977, the main branch of the Winnipeg Public Library. The William Avenue branch was old and dusty and the aisles were narrow, and the place was venerable. It had a mystique that was missing from its replacement, which was called the Centennial Library and which was built in the middle of downtown, next to Eaton Place, across from Trinity Anglican Church on Graham.

The Centennial Library was modern and modern looking. It was ok. It was a great place to stop on the way home from work, or during lunch break if I happened to be downtown, and I suppose I must have read thousands of pages of books that I borrowed from there.

Now when I left the city they had a decent CD collection, and still a few cassette tapes left, but I remember the days of LPs, not all that long ago, and the odd thing was that at some point in its history, they changed their cataloguing system, but what they did was this. The LPs under the old system stayed under the old system, and the LPs under the new system were under the new system, which categorized them by style, type, and artist, which is what you’d expect.

The old ones, though, were numbered sequentially by the order in which they were added to the collection. Which means that the only way to find something was to look in the index card catalogue. But the fun part was browsing through the old shelves, where you’d find a Brahms Cello Sonata next to The Byrds next to Stockhausen next to Charles Mingus. I could spend hours looking through those shelves, days even, until the librarian would tell me nicely to go home and get something to eat.

Look it up online; it doesn’t exist. What does exist, and didn’t use to, is the *Millenium* library. It’s apparently in the exact same place as the Centennial Library used to be, but it’s completely renovated. Well, in the words of Beavis and Butthead (one of them, I guess) “the more things change, the more they suck.”

Anyway I got the Ink Spots there. I used to have the double LP, but I trashed that, decided I didn’t need The Ink Spots in my collection, but I guess I need them after all. I’m not so close to this music really; it’s very old (these songs are from the 40’s mostly), and silly. And it’s very stylized. Bill Kenny sings so high he makes Clyde McPhatter sound like Johnny Cash. And Hoppy Jones sings so low that he makes Johnny Cash sound like… Clyde McPhatter!! Several of these songs went on to become hits for the Platters ("If I Didn’t Care", "To Each His Own", and especially "My Prayer"), I have a version of "When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano" by Pat Boone, that’s exciting, and one of "We Three" by Brenda Lee, and that rhymes.

(And There’s a song called “The Gypsy” which is not the Gordon Lightfoot song, but it never ceases to amaze me how many songs there are about Gyspies, so often with “gypsy” in the title – Lou Christie did “The Gypsy Cried,” The Impressions did “Gypsy Woman,” Van Morrison did “Gypsy” and then there’s Lightfoot. They’d never get away with any other ethnic designation – The Jew? The Negro Cried? American Woman? oops scratch that)

"Java Jive" is a bit different; for what it’s worth, it was covered by Manhattan Transfer.

I like coffee, I like tea…

The Ink Spots:

  • If I Didn't Care

  • Addresss Unknown

  • My Prayer

  • When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano

  • Whispering Grass (Don't Tell The Trees)

  • Maybe

  • I'll Never Smile Again

  • We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, And Me)

  • Java Jive

  • I Dont Want To Set The World On Fire

  • Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat

  • The Gypsy

  • Street Of Dreams

  • I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)

  • To Each His Own

Thursday, September 18, 2008

10 Random Albums

I used to have vinyl LPs but I got rid of most of them. Seems, though, that I still have a bunch of LPs. Most of them are classical music LPs, and I may just sell them on eBay or something if I get ambitious enough.

Here, for no reason whatsoever, is a random sampling of 10 of the albums:

Bach Organ Favorites played by E. Power Biggs

I’ve been wanting to hear a real live organ recital, and I’m hoping that the Friday 12 hour concerts will resume this winter at McGill because I will finally be able to go.

Britten: Spring Symphony by Sheila Armstrong, Janet Baker, Robert Tear, London Symphony Chorus & London Symphony Orchestra, St. Clement Danes School Boys’ Choir, André Previn

I haven't listened to this much. But a few years ago I heard a performance of Britten's Varations On A Theme Of Frank Bridge, played by an ensemble of students called Les Petites Violons, at the Vincent D'Indy music school. My daughter and I went, and it was magnificent. A few years later she was on the same stage playing Haydn on her violin.

Mozart Symphonies, No. 35 in D, “Haffner”, No. 36 in C, “Linz”, Otto Klemperer – Philharmonia Orchestra

This one still has the price tag on it, $2.50 cash or $3.50 trade. I recognize the sticker; it’s from Pyramid Records. That was some place. Mozart is always good of course. I am partial to No 41, the “Jupiter.”

Solti – Wagner.

This one is a guilty pleasure. We’re not supposed to listen to Wagner of course; the man was a notorious anti-Semite, and Hitler’s favourite. There was a big to-do a number of years ago when, was it Zubin Mehta? decided to play Wagner with the Israel Philharmonic, and the end result was that they left it for the end of the concert and musicians who objected could leave. Problem is, the music is magnificent.

Saint – Saëns – The Carnival Of The Animals, Britten, The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic

This is an old Columbia album, released in 1962. There is a stamp that says St. Johns High School Library. My parents went to St. Johns.

Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue, American In Paris, Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic, Columbia Symphony

Bernstein was the acclaimed Gershwin expert.

Beethoven Quartet in C-Sharp minor, Opl 131, Juillard String Quartet

I have a special place in my heart for this Beethoven quartet. I became familiar with it in an string orchestra version recorded by Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic, and hearing it stripped down to its original 4 instruments is breathtaking.

Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 5, Leningrad Philharmonic, Yevgeny Mravinsky

My parents had a recording of this, and I’m sure that it’s etched into my early memory somewhere, though I don’t consciously remember hearing it.

Paul Finkleman – Music Wheel.

Finkleman is Canadian, and this is a children’s album. I’m not sure where it came from, but I’m pretty sure that my kids never heard it.

Peter Gabriel – So.

I bought this for my wife. I can’t stand it, but it makes her happy. I've since given her a copy on CD. Another Pyramid sticker, with the same prices as the other one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More Bill Monroe

The Essential Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys

The Essential Bill Monroe And His Bluegrass Boys

This isn’t the time nor the place to talk about box sets generally, but I can’t help having noticed over the years how poorly record companies have done with them. I don’t mean that they don’t sell them, I mean that can’t seem to figure out how to put one together meaningfully.

Oh there are a few good ones out there: The Bee Gees' Tales From The Brothers Gibb – that’s a great example of a career retrospective. The Bootleg Series Vol 1 -3 by Bob Dylan is a great example of a collection of previously unreleased stuff. Most sets try to do both and screw up.

Ok so Bill Monroe. This is the Essential Bill Monroe but it only covers 4 years out of a 4 decade career, well I guess that’s as long as he was on Columbia, and half the tracks are alternate versions, and I don’t know why they did that. I left those off.

"Uncle Pen" was from a various artists collection called From The Vaults – Decca Country Classics. The first time I heard "Uncle Pen" was by Eric Weisberg & Deliverance, the opening track on an album called Rural Free Delivery, which I don’t have anymore, but I have the Porter Wagoner version. This one’s the best though.

From The Vauls

Both of these came from the West Kildonan Library which I’ll tell you about another time.

Bill Monroe
And His Bluegrass Boys:

  • Rocky Road Blues

  • Foot Prints In The Snow

  • Come Back To Me In My Dreams

  • Why Did You Wander

  • Blue Moon Of Kentucky

  • Toy Heart

  • Mansion For Me

  • Mama's Only Sleeping

  • Blue Yodel Now

  • Will You Be Loving Another Man?

  • How Will I Explain About You

  • Shining Path

  • Wicked Path Of Sin

  • I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling

  • Little Cabin Home On The Hill

  • My Rose Of Old Kentucky

  • Along About Daybreak

  • When You Are Lonely

  • [Uncle Pen]

Monday, September 15, 2008

Can I Walk With You At Least?

Listen to Roy Orbison sing Oh, Pretty Woman:

Pretty Woman, walking down the street
Pretty woman, the kind I'd like to

Listen to Manfred Mann sing Do Wa Diddy Diddy:

There she was just a-walkin' down the street
Singing do wah diddy
diddy dum diddy do

Listen to the Sir Douglas Quintet doing She's About A Mover:

Well she was walkin' down the street
Looking fine as she could be

Ok what gives? What's with all the chicks walking down the street? Don't they have cars, bus tickets? Can't they get a ride? Where are they walking to? School? Work? Are they steet women?

And it's not just gals either. The guys are walking too. Listen to the Shangri Las do Give Him A Great Big Kiss:

Here comes my guy
Walkin' down the street

And of course who could forget the Crystals (who weren't even the Crystals) do He's A Rebel:

See the way he walks down the street
See the way he shuffles his

Sometimes the narrator himself is walking down the street, like Robert Lamm, one of Chicago's singers, doing Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is:

As I was walking down the street one day…

He doesn't say where he was going. He just whines about being asked the time.

Even couples get into the act. The Guess Who sang His Girl:

Look at the way they walk down the street
You can see she's his

And Them doing Here Comes The Night:

I can see right out my window my girl
Walkin' down the street with
another guy

At least we have an idea what they were up to. Meanwhile, poor Van was having a conniption. And in Gloria, he was having another kind of conniption:

She comes walkin' down my street
Well she comes to my house
knock upon my door
Then she come to my room
Then she make me feel

Well we know why Gloria was walking down the street anyway.

But aside from that, I have a theory. See pop song lyrics don't wax philosophical all too often (okay, forget about U2 for a minute). And what these songs celebrate I think is just the idea of existence. They are metaphysical pop. Don't laugh, bear with me here. We want to sing about how happy we are the so-and-so exists (think of Elton John - "How wonderful life is when you're in the world"). But they can't just sing "Pretty woman, EXISTING" or "there she was BEING." So walking down the street becomes a stand in; it is the most neutral act there is; it has no moral quality, it doesn't reflect anything individual about the person (apart from the object of Manfred's affection, who is not just walking down the street, but is snapping her fingers and shuffling her feet - she must have had an iPod); it is to say, see the way she lives and breathes and just is.

If Descartes had been a songwriter, he would have written "I walk down the street, therefore I am."

Well it's a theory.

Here, by the way, is, in no particular order, a very partial list of more songs that have, in the lyrics, someone walking down the street:

  • Who's Gonna Be Your Sweet Man When I'm Gone (Muddy Waters)
  • A Guy Is A Guy (Doris Day)
  • Daddy Cool (The Diamonds)
  • Say Man (Bo Diddley)
  • Cadillac (Bo Diddley)
  • Party Doll (Buddy Knox)
  • Boogie Chillun (John Lee Hooker)
  • Say The Word (Mickey And Sylvia)
  • Talk That Talk (Jackie Wilson)
  • Framed (Richie Valens)
  • Looking Back To See (The Browns)
  • On Broadway (The Drifters)
  • Gee Whiz It's You (Cliff Richard)
  • Me And My Shadow (Liberace)
  • I Go To Pieces (Peter & Gordon)
  • Twistin' Postman (The Marvelettes)
  • When The Lights Go Out (Jimmy Witherspoon)
  • Pink Petticoats (Big Bopper)
  • Theme From The Monkees (The Monkees)
  • Tunesmith (Johnny Rivers)
  • It's Gonna Rain (Sonny & Cher)
  • Gangster Of Love (Sam The Sham & the Pharaohs)
  • Look Away (Spencer Davis Group)
  • Long Tall Texan (Murry Kelum)
  • Stop Look and Listen (Elvis Presley)
  • Letter Full Of Tears (Gladys Knight And The Pips)
  • There's No Other (Like My Baby) (The Crystals)
  • Hey Baby (Bruce Channel)
  • Male Ego (The Beach Boys)
  • Stop! In The Name Of Love (The Supremes)
  • Walk On By (Dionne Warwick)
  • This Empty Place (Dionne Warwick)
  • Ain't She Sweet (Paul Ash & His Orchestra / The Beatles)
  • Heart Of Stone (The Rolling Stones)
  • Stop Breaking Down (The Rolling Stones)
  • Paint It Black (The Animals - not the Stones' version though)
  • Everybody's Gonna Be Happy (The Kinks)
  • He's My Guy (Reparta And The Delrons)
  • My Heart Skips A Beat (Buck Owens)
  • Looking At The Stars (Gary Lewis & The Playboys)
  • May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose (Little Jimmy Dickens)
  • Cool Jerk (The Capitals)
  • Hello I Love You (The Doors)
  • Rock & Soul Music (Country Joe & The Fish)
  • Every Time (The Box Tops)
  • Day Time, Night Time (Simon Dupree & The Big Sound)
  • I Feel Free (Cream)
  • Are You Ready (The Chambers Brothers)
  • I Got My Eye On You (Canned Heat with John Lee Hooker)
  • Bang Shang A Lang (The Archies)
  • Swingin' Lite (Bill Deal & The Rhondells)
  • #9 Dream (John Lennon)

  • East L.A. (War)

  • Hey, Miss Fannie (The Clovers)

Do Wah Diddy Diddy

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys

The Father Of Bluegrass Music

The Father Of Blue Grass Music (c. 1962)

I used to hunt around Value Village for LPs. That was mostly back in Winnipeg, and it was mostly after all the second hand LP shops closed up.

It was, or course, a crap shoot. They charged $1.00 per LP, and there were times when I could easily drop $20, but mostly it was just old copies of Grease and stuff.

There was a location that was about a five minute drive from home, and later, when I was driving around the city to make a few bucks, I’d stop in at other locations, the West End, Transcona, etc.

I picked up Skeeter Davis, Bread, Robert Goulet, Patty Page, Bill Monroe. That’s why I’m here now, to talk about Bill Monroe.

Well I picked up an old RCA Camden LP, called The Father Of Bluegrass Music, released back when back catalogues didn’t seem to have a lot of value, so record companies would relegate the material to budget labels, and release it at a budget price, and you’d see these LPs in supermarkets and the like. The recordings were made in the early 40s on a series of 78s, and this collection was released on a budget label in 1962.

And I love it, the LP I mean, it swings. “Orange Blossom Special” is here. So is “Mule Skinner Blues.” And I love the fact that this album by a primary exponent of hillbilly music starts off with a 12 bar blues…

Remember, this guy *invented* bluesgrass, invented it. Nobody “invented” rock and roll, or jazz, or blues, but Monroe invented bluegrass. Amazing.

Bill Monroe
And His Bluegrass Boys:

  • Six White Horses

  • Dog House Blues

  • Tennessee Blues

  • No Letter In The Mail

  • Blue Yodel Number 7

  • Orange Blossom Special

  • Mule Skinner Blues

  • Katy Hill

  • I Wonder If You Feel The Way I Do

  • Honky Tonk Swing

  • In The Pines

  • Back Up And Push

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chamber Music, Montreal Style


I have, among my souvenirs, a program from a concert we went to in December of 2006. Well, what I call a "program" is actually a single sheet of paper, with the details of a concert presented by a group of McGill University music students.

They do this, students. They put on free concerts for the public. It's part of their curriculum. They get to perform, and the public benefits. There are no losers.

This particular evening featured a group of chamber music ensembles, and they played string quartets by Mozart and Beethoven (how can you lose?) and a piano quintet by Shostakovitch, which I liked, and my wife didn't. Ah, what does she know.

This is a great city for music. If you have the money, there are plenty of big names that have been here over the last few years: Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Santana, Paul Simon (okay so my age is showing). For those of us with lesser means, there are pubs with rock groups, pubs with jazz groups, pubs with country groups (after you pay for the cover charge, and, say, four beers, you've spent as much as two tickets to Stevie Wonder).

And there is the Montreal Chamber Orchestra.

We missed the concert last night. Wife was sick. Too bad. Those concerts are a kick. There is a shuttle bus that takes patrons from the Métro station up the hill to the "concert hall" - actually the Salle Claude Champagne, a recital hall in the University de Montréal. The concerts are totally free; apparently the cost is paid by some well-heeled corporate sponsors.

And then last spring we went to hear some music student playing works for solo flute. The music she played was pretty modern. On one piece she was accompanied by pre-recorded bird sounds. I thought someone left the window open.

She was ok. But she was wearing a dress with spaghetti straps, and they kept slipping off her shoulder, so she was distracted by her apparel, and so was the audience.

It's not all about music anyway, is it?

So I have this souvenir program. The first piece was played by:

  • Marjolaine Lambert - violin
  • Alexander Read - violin
  • Amina Tébini - viola
  • Brandon Wilkie - cello

Remember their names, and call me when they become famous. Because during the intermission, I found them in the lobby and I got autographs from three of them (I couldn't find Alex). And I think I made their day…

Saturday, September 6, 2008

dj the deadhead

This is something I did on December 31, 2007, which was New Year's Eve, and I was contemplating that whole "new start" thing...

"I have never been a quitter."

Richard Nixon

"I have never been a deadhead."


I was 10 during the summer of love. I remember that summer, and I had this little black transistor radio that I listened to at night after I'd gone to bed. I didn't like to go to sleep until I'd heard Light My Fire by the Doors, and All You Need Is Love by The Beatles (which sounded positively spooky at 1 AM to a 10 year old), and Canada by The Sugar Shoppe. That last one didn't get played all that much, and I would often have to give up by 2:30 AM and just go to sleep.

I have probably invested more emotional energy into music than into anything else. Now, I don't exactly play anything, though I did take guitar lessons when I was a kid, and I can play a mean blues harp, though I haven't actually done so in years and years. But I listen. I got interested when I was about 7; I got hooked at 8 when I discovered top 40 radio.

Now I have Mike Nesmith playing in the car, Marvin Gaye at my desk, Hot Tuna in the kitchen, and Johnny Rivers in bed. Oh, and I have the Staple Singers on my Walkman.

My tastes run the gamut. I got into Harry Nilsson big time when I was in high school, and also the English art-rock band Yes. Nilsson still amazes me, Yes less so, though I still put Close To The Edge up there as a classic. I tend to a partiality to music that the pundits love to hate, like John Denver, though I admit that in 1975 he turned into Barry Manilow, and Donovan.

But I never really got into the Dead. In fact, they've always kind of puzzled me. I mean they were the prototype hippie band. They actually lived in Haight-Ashbury, all together in the same house; they played for Ken Kesey's acid tests. They were among the first out of the starting gate with the whole acid rock thing. And then, when they finally hit their stride, what were they doing? Country rock.

Country rock.

Well of course I have Workingman's Dead, and I have American Beauty, and I have a bunch of their live albums, and Anthem Of The Sun, and some others. And there is no denying the beauty of Uncle John's Band. I just don't necessarily get it, that's all.

Still, there is something about Jerry Garcia that I find refreshing. Years ago I watched a multi-part TV documentary about the history of rock music, hosted by John Sebastian. There were interview snippets by a lot of different musicians, but Garcia is the one who always came across like he was enjoying himself immensely, but, unlike so many others, not at the expense of the subject matter. I just got the impression that here was a guy who had the right attitude.
And now I'm listening to their one and only top 40 hit, Touch Of Grey, and it speaks to where I am right now. I love it. "I will get by, I will survive."
I know the rent is in arrears, the dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears, but it's alright

And that's it. That's all of it. And that's everything. I will get by. I will survive.
I see so much affluence around me. So many people who have worked hard all their lives and who do not have to worry about how they are going to pay for groceries this month, who don't have to worry about where they will be living in six months, who can think about making weddings for their kids.
And here I am underemployed, underpaid, broke - and whining about it. But hey -

Oh well anyway, sorry that you feel that way.
Every silver lining's got a touch of grey
I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

(In case you're wondering, Canada by the Sugar Shoppe was a rocked up version of the song Bobby Gimby wrote and recorded for Canada's centenial in 1967.)

Touch Of Grey

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Anyone following my page here can be forgiven for noticing that I’ve been listening to a lot of Gordon Lightfoot lately.

So here’s a variation of the desert island scenario. You are going to spend your life on a desert island and you can only take one Lightfoot album, so which one do I recommend?

Well, the obvious choice is some collection. Don’t go with Gord’s Gold though; the tracks on record 1 are redone, and the selection on record 2 is kind of flaky. And don’t even think about Gord’s Gold Volume 2. Now the Songbook is a nice collection – a 4 CD box set, but they didn’t get that right either. I’ve written about that elsewhere

So forget about collections. Let’s find the best Lightfoot album.

I like "Walls." I think that’s his most underrated track of ever. That’s on The Way I Feel, which was his second album, and that’s a contender, with "Softly", and "Go-Go Round" (about a go-go dancer), and "Song For A Winter’s Night", with its great bass line and jingle bells. It also has "Canadian Railroad Trilogy", which is better history than anything Al Stewart ever did, but still overrated I think, or at least it doesn’t really touch me anyplace meaningful. The title track is a so-so rethink of the same song that appeared on his first album.

But I remember when I came back from overseas in 1977, and I bought Summertime Dream, which was then his latest album, and it was cool, and moving, and I get a good feeling every time I hear it. So maybe that one.

But speaking of his first album, how about his first album? Very folky, incredible songs, young and inspired. He does "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and he sounds nothing like Roberta Flack, but then I don’t expect he would. Can’t argue. And the track listing: "Early Morning Rain", "For Lovin’ Me", "Ribbon Of Darkness", "I’m Not Saying", classics all.

So okay. Let’s take Lightfoot! to that island.

But then we don’t get "Talking In Your Sleep". So maybe we should take Summer Side Of Life. After all, it comes with "10 Degrees And Colder", and "Go My Way." But then it also has "Nous Vivons Ensemble" Gords’s pean to Canadian unity, and the poor guy can’t speak French de la marde, as they say here. Okay forget that.

Don Quixote! That is one beautiful album, and it even has "Beautiful"on it. I don’t think there is one clinker. Except for that song about the whales. Not too interested in whales, at least not in singing about them. Saw a whale skull in a museum not long ago, that was cool, but no one was singing.

So I don’t know. Who came up with this idea anyway. I don’t think anyone should go to any desert island. I think we should all stay put, and keep as many Lightfoot albums as we want. Display the covers on the wall, cause that’s what walls are for…
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