Sunday, December 27, 2009

aughts and ends

So many lists, so little time. It seems like only yesterday that KID A was making our mouths water in anticipation of what the 21st century had in store. Well here we are 8+ years later and hindsight is 20/20 last time I checked.

It was an amazing 10 years of music. As the potency of traditional pop became weaker and weaker, virulent new strains emerged. Most from down the road in Brooklyn. If nothing else, New York's hippest borough became the epicenter of music in the aughts. But more on that another time. First, the list.

My list is a lot like other lists, but it's all mine. It does not have obligatory inclusions paying homage to stadium rock gods, nor the 'must have Rap album of 2005'. My list contains the records I have not stopped listening to since the decade commenced. Since it's ridiculous and impossible to say one record is better than all the rest, the list is not in any specific order, nor is it numbered. Each holds something intangible to me, and hopefully for some of you as well. If you've not heard of any of the following, not to worry, the decade may be over but the music will be here forever. A truly great album has no shelf life. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sounds just as good now as it did waaaay back in '02.

That said, we aught to take a little time and reminisce.

Wilco- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot/A Ghost Is Born/Kicking Television/Sky Blue Sky/ Wilco, The Album (2002,04,05,07,09, Nonesuch)
I know I shouldn't play favorites, but Wilco ruled the decade. YHF, followed up by A Ghost is Born, Kicking Television (best live album of the decade), Sky Blue Sky and the eponomous Wilco. The garnered three Grammy wins (like that really means shit) and are nominated for a fourth for their last release. They fought their label, substance abuse and each other and came out on the other side as America’s rock band. A full-fledged crossover, worthy of the accolades and critical acclaim heaped upon them. On top of that, some seriously talented musicians who are better live and lucky for us, love touring. The best shows I saw over the last 10 years were the half dozen Wilco shows I attended (and the two Radiohead gigs at Liberty State Park).

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Abbatoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus (Mute, 2004)
Mr. Cave's most ambitious offering of the decade, if not his career. This guy is thisclose to having his own cult.

Get Ready For Love

The White Stripes
- White Blood Cells/Elephant (2001, 2003, V2 Records)
No sophomore slump from the troubadour of power chords. White Blood Cells, their second release put them squarely on the map, Elephant established them as a sovereign nation of kicking ass. Mr. White runs a close second to Wilco for owning the aughts.

The Hardest Button To Button

The Flaming Lips
- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002, Warner Bros.)
The sonic pinnacle of the weird and wonderous Wayne Coyne & Co.

Do You Realize

Flaming Lips - Do You Realize??

Ryan | MySpace Video

Beck- Sea Change (2002, Geffen)
Blood on the Tracks for a whole new generation of broken hearts.

The Golden Age

Radiohead- Kid A/Amnesiac/In Rainbows (2000, 2001, 2007, Parlophone Capitol
Fairly obvious, but this band ruled the aughts and my iPod, with the exception of '04's hiccup Hail to the Thief.
Also, two of the best shows I saw all decade. New Jersey was good for something.

Morning Bell

- Gimme Fiction/Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2005, 2007 Merge)
I discovered Spoon early in the decade and have summoned them ever since.

Everything Hits At Once

Danger Mouse (Jay Z/Beatles)- The Grey Album (2004)
I pretty much hate rap, but this mashup changed all that for me. The Fab Four as break beats, brilliant!

The Grey Video

Dirty on Purpose
- Sleep Late for a Better Tomorrow/ Hallelujah Sirens (2004, 2006 North Street Records)
My favorite 'new' band of the decade. I never understood why they didn't blow up, rather they imploded and called it quits last year. Still, I relish their dreamy sounds.

Mind Blindness

Band of Horses
- Everything All The Time/ Cease to Begin (2005, 2007 Sub Pop Records)
My second favorite new band of the last ten years. Be proud you're a rebel, cause the South's gonna do it again. Two words: Glimmering reverb.

No One's Gonna Love You

The Strokes- Is This it (2001, RCA Records)
The right band at the right time. Before Justin Timberlake brought back sexy, these guys brought back garage rock and revived the New York scene. Sort of. IMHO, they were a one hit wonder. But it was a great LP.

Last Night

The Walkmen
- Bows and Arrows (2004, Record Collection)
The best follow-up album of the aughts. At once coarse and vulgar while still sublime and melodic.

The Rat

Camera Obscura
- Let's Get Out of This Country/ My Maudlin Career (2005, 2008, Merge, 4AD)
What Everything But The Girl did for me in the 90's, Camera Obscura did for me in the 00's.

If Looks Could Kill

Ivy- Long Distance/In the Clear (2001, 2005 Nettwerk)
I stumbled them by accident and fell in love with their clean, lush Synthpop. I don't know what happened to them and unfortunately never got to see them perform live. If you watched any of the twentysomething series on the WB or MTV, chances are there was an Ivy track included.

Edge Of The Ocean

Honorable Mentions-

Elvis Costello- When I Was Cruel (2002, Island)
The master maintains his relevance.

Beirut- Gulag Orkestar (2006, Ba Da Bing)
Possibly the finest Balkan folk record I have ever heard.

Amy Winehouse- Back To Black (2006, Universal Republic)
She is the hot mess. Adding insult to injury, she received the musical kiss of death, Grammy for best new artist, see also: Lauryn Hill.

Various Artists- O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack (2000, Mercury)
Old Timey music! I tell you what!

Various Artists
- Little Miss Sunshine Soundtrack (2006, Lakeshore)

Various Artists- The Royal Tenenbaums Soundtrack (2001, Hollywood)

Various Artists- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Soundtrack (2004, Hollywood)
Albeit not all the songs on Wes Anderson's sountracks were recorded in the past ten years, these compilations got me looking for and listening to more b-sides.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Spoonful Weighs A Ton

Trading in frivolous, screechy guitar-driven songs for lush, complicated orchestral arrangements, the Lips wholly reinvented themselves on 1999's The Soft Bulletin.

Taking full advantage of the concept album concept, Coyne & Co. transformed their sound and in turn transported their listeners to a strange new world. And no, it wasn't Oklahoma.

Not unlike Radiohead's 1997 benchmark, OK Computer, Bulletin was both bold and vast in its aspirations, albeit much happier. It transcended the tenets of 'alternative music'. The attempt was by all means a success, adequately preparing both the Lips and their listeners for the new millennium with some really amazing music.

Race For The Prize
- The Flaming Lips (Later...with Jools Holland, 11/99)

A Spoonful Weighs A Ton- The Flaming Lips (The Pageant, St. Louis, 08/06)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Transmissions from an Actual Monkey

To celebrate Embryonic, the 12th release from Oklahoma's native sons, The Flaming Lips, AM is dedicating a bunch of postings to the fearless freaks. Join with us as we explore the evolution of the Lips. See and hear how they have matured and mutated from haphazard, callow guitar rock, to intricate, cacophonous exuberance.

We begin with the LP that got me sold on the Lips, 1993's Transmissions from a Satellite Heart. Caught in the maelstrom of the early 90's grunge movement, when just about every major was desperately trying to sign the next Nirvana, Transmissions was a refreshing departure from the typical Seattle angst-ridden fare. It was also somewhat of a commercial success for the band who had garnered a following with their five previous releases.

Loose, raucous and noisy like Flipper, the Lips maximized their slacker aplomb and happy-dicked it through a collection of silly songs. Yes, right smack in the middle of the wails of Kurt Cobain and the growls of Billy Corgan, Wayne Coyne sang happy songs that were fun to listen to. Like one big giggly bong hit, Transmissions delivered a WTF? levity and gave everyone the munchies for more.

Hereto, glimpses of the weird, wondrous things to come? Perhaps.

I'm just sayin'.

She Don't Use Jelly
-The Flaming Lips (Live, Late Show with David Letterman, 1995)

Turn It On
- The Flaming Lips (Live, SF Union Square, 05.13.95)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How do you call your loverboy?

On this day in 1957, the duo known as Mickey and Silvia recorded the twangy, tantalizing classic Love Is Strange. The song was released on Groove Records and peaked at #11 on the Billboard Pop Charts.

The song was written by Bo Diddly under an assumed name (Ethel Smith, his wife) and recorded by guitar teacher McHouston "Guitar" Baker and a student of his, Sylvia Vanderpool. Inspired by the success of Les Paul and Mary Ford, the duo would only chart once, but continue to record together until 1965.

Silvia would go on to success as a solo artist. in 1973 her hit Pillow Talk reached #1 on the R&B charts. She is also credited with helping form the first rap label, Sugarhill Records.

As for the song, it has been covered by the likes of Buddy Holly, Lonny Donegan, Sonny & Cher, Paul McCartney and Wings, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton as well as Everything But The Girl.

Still an amazing track, it's sultry melody, latin rhythms and trebly, mono recording have frozen it in time, a time when Rock and Roll was new, and sexy.

And remember, nobody puts Baby in a corner.

I'm just sayin'.

Buddy Holly
Paul McCartney & Wings
Everything But The Girl

Mickey & Silvia- Love Is Strange (Dirty Dancing Clip)

Buddy Holly- Love Is Strange (Demo)

Everything But The Girl- Love Is Strange

Everything But the Girl -- Love is Strange

Al|MySpace Videos

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I say captain, I say wot

There are no coincidences. The same day the monkey goes back online, the world suffers the catastrophic loss of Rock-N-Wrestling's greatest ambassador, 'Captain' Lou Albano.

Courage, we are here for you.

Before the WWF became the frightening, steroid-fueled juggernaut that it is today, a quirky little girl from the boroughs, with a thick Queens accent got a little help from Captain Lou (and WWF owner Vince McMahon) to launch her career and at the same time, successfully merge the world of pop music and professional wrestling.

Whether such a pairing should even qualify as successful is another question altogether.

The pile driver of the Rock-N-Wrestling frenzy was 1985's cover of Wilson Pickett's classic, Land of 1000 Dances. There was more juice on that set than an Anita Bryant commercial.

Thankfully, mercifully, the Rock-N-Wrestling movement was eventually put in a sleeper hold and remained down for the count. Albano went on to manage, among other craptastic bands, the lame 1970's hold-overs, NRBQ. They even wrote a lame song about him.

R.I.P Capt. Lou.

I'm just sayin'.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Cyndi Lauper- Girls Just Wanna have Fun (1983)

Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Official Music Video) - The funniest home videos are here

WWF Wrestlers- Land of 1000 Dances

NRBQ- Captain Lou

Cruel Summer

Considering it's halfway through October and I am just beginning to post again, suffice to say my summer vacation was a long one. Let the erstwhile musings commence.

For all intents and purposes, the summer started back in July, with an impeccable Wilco/Yo La Tengo show at Cyclone Stadium on Coney Island. A perfect way to kick off summer. Unfortunately, not a week later, it came crashing down as I watched the pitiful wreck that was once Bob Dylan mumble through a completely incomprehensible set at the Mecca of all things hippie, the Bethel Performing Arts Center. It's amazing what 40 years can do. Dylan seems to be slipping into dementia while Yazgur's farm is now a money-making memorabilia machine, replete with plush, manicured lawns and $8 Bud lights.

Didn't see any other shows all summer and wasn't really too bummed about it either. Recently, I have been on a deep 70-80's dance kick that was reignited by my return to roller skating. Thanks to my USB turntable and some delving into the depth of the iTunes Store, I have pretty much rounded out my collection of hard to find 12" from back in the day.

With that, I won't push it too hard for this first return posting, but I do ask that you enjoy these very rare and danceable offerings.

I'm just sayin'.

A Lovers Holiday

I'll Do Anything For You

Heartbeat (Club Version)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beat it

His personal life aside, there is no denying at one time Michael Jackson was the undisputed King of Pop. Tell me you didn't own a copy of Thriller. That would be really freaky.

Sadly, today's news doesn't come as a shock.

I'm just sayin'.

MJ, by the numbers:
13 Grammy Awards
13 No. 1 Singles
46 Million copies of Thriller sold worldwide
750 million total albums sold worldwide

I Want You Back
Walk Right Now
Shake Your Body
Can You Feel It

Jackson 5 - Rankin/Bass Animated Series Opening

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Who you callin' Cissy?

On this day in 1969, the Meters scorching soul classic Cissy Strut reaches #23 on the Billboard charts.

The New Orleans based band, fronted by Art Neville, pioneered the Funk. Achieving some moderate chart success, the band was also a favorite among other musicians. In 1974, Paul and Linda McCartney hired the band to play a party aboard the Queen Mary. The following year the Stones took them on tour as an opening act.

Enduring a breakup, lineup and name changes, the band eventually reunited and continues to perform today.

Cissy Strut

Cissy Strut- The Meters (New Orleans Jazz Festival, 1993)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Deep Dark Truthful Mirror

Beyond his musical agility, past his cutting verse, what has sustained Elvis Costello some 30+ years since this geeky punker exploded onto the scene with his Buddy Holly specs, skinny ties and size-too-small suits is his ability to continually look into himself while looking out at all of us. Constantly finding inspiration to add to his astounding body of work.

As he has matured, so have his songs. With several brilliant mistakes in the 90's, EC arrived in the new millennium delivering a string of eclectic and fantastic releases, and the Imposter himself has spent this year making a Spectacle of himself on cable television, in what is the ultimate rock and roll master class.

The culmination of said efforts has cemented his status as rock royalty. The following is a nod to Rock's other king named Elvis.

I am pleased that I will in attendance next week, for EC's spring residency at the Beacon Theater. Full review to follow.

I'm just sayin'.

Imagination (is a powerful deceiver)
Deep Dark Truthful Mirror

Gold Standard- Elvis, the elder statesman:

Deep Dark Truthful Mirror- Elvis Costello (VH1, 2006)

45- Elvis Costello & The Imposters (When I Was Cruel, 2002)

Still- Elvis Costello (North, 2003)

Heart Shaped Bruise- Emmylou Harris & Elvis Costello (Ovation TV, 2004)

Monkey To Man- Elvis Costello & The Imposters (The Delivery Man, 2004)

River in Reverse- Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint (River in Reverse, 2006)

Sulphur to Sugarcane (Secret, Profane & Sugarcane, 2009)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beyond Belief

Often lauded as the post-modern Bob Dylan, EC's songwriting prowess, sometimes subtle, sometimes sophisticated and always sublime, has yielded some of the most memorable melodies and lyrics this side of Cole Porter.

The perfect complement to this gift is the ease at which he can appropriate any style that suits his needs. Whether an original or cover, EC makes it his own. Considering the following an ostentatious lesson in mixing color. I'm just sayin'.

Beyond Belief
Girls Talk (original)
Girls Talk (cover)
Good Year For The Roses
Party Party

Deeper hues- Elvis the journeyman:

New Amsterdam-Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Get Happy, 1980)

Good Year For The Roses-Elvis Costello & The Attractions (G. Jones cover)

She- Elvis Costello (Knotting Hill soundtrack, 2004)

I'll Never Fall In Love Again- Elvis Costello & Bert Bacharach (Austin Powers 2 soundtrack)

Jacksons, Monk and Rowe- Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet (The Juliet Letters, 1993)

Crazy- Diana Krall, Elvis Costello & Willie Nelson (2006)

Love Hurts- Emmylou Harris & Elvis Costello (Letterman)

Radio, Radio- Beastie Boye & Elvis Costello (SNL, 25th Anniversary)

What's So Funny (About Peace, Love and Understanding, Nick Lowe cover)- Elvis Costello and the Imposters (hosting Letterman, 2003)

Girl's Talk- Dave Edmunds & Rockpile (Elvis Costello cover, circa 1981)

I'm A Fool To Want You- Chet Baker & Elvis Costello (1986)

Beyond Belief- Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Imperial Bedroom, 1982)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Almost Blue

The angry young man does indeed have a softer side. No doubt the fire in his belly sparked the flame that traveled straight to his heart. The result: a collection of torch songs that rank among the greatest ever written.

Many of Elvis Costello's earlier ballads are directly attributed to his tempestuous affair with the legendary groupie/model Bebe Buell. Their on-again, off-again romance provided the grist for several of his most aggrieved and personal offerings. Others give the appearance of love songs, but are really just cleverly disguised protest songs. Wait, isn't that the same thing?

I'm just sayin'.

Almost Blue
My Dark Life (w/ Brian Eno)

Almost Blue- Elvis, the hopeless, forlorn romantic:

Alison- Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1st TV appearance, Granada Reports, 1977)

Accidents Will Happen- Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Armed Forces, 1979)

Man Out Of Time- Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Letterman, 1982)

Riot Act- Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Almost Blue- Chet Baker (Let's Get Lost soundtrack, 1988)

That Day Is Done- Elvis Costello co-written by Paul McCartney (Concert for Linda, 1999)

Shipbuilding- Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1982)

I Wanna Be Loved- Elvis Costello & The Attrctions (1984)

Everyday I Write The Book- Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1983)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This year's model

To celebrate the release of Elvis Costello's 32nd studio LP, Secret, Profane and Sugarcane, the Monkey is dedicating a full week of posts to the original Napoleon Dynamite.

Spanning Mr. Costello's career of excursions into a multitude of musical genres is no easy task. His chameleon-like aptitude displays more colors than the general assembly of the U.N. That said, We'll break it down, exploring and refracting the spectrum of Rock's true bon vivant.

I'm just sayin'.

High Fidelity

Primary Colors- Elvis, the angry young man:

Pump It Up- Elvis Costello and the Attractions (This Year's Model, 1978)

The Beat- Elvis Costello (This Year's Model, 1978)

Radio Radio- Elvis Costello & The Attractions (SNL, 1977)

Elvis Costello - Radio Radio (SNL 12/17/77) from Mikey Lemieux on Vimeo.

Uncomplicated-Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Blood & Chocolate, 1986)

High Fidelity- Elvis Costello & The Attractions (Get Happy, 1980)

I Hope You're Happy Now- Elvis Costello & The Imposters (Live By Request, 2003)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Strange Magic

On this date in 1976, Electric Light Orchestra's Strange Magic reached No.14 on the Billboard charts. It was the second charting single from their fifth studio release Face the Music.

Jeff Lynne's experiment of combining pop music with classical overtones was proving to be a success, the formula was quite successful for most of the 70's. Citing the Beatles as a heavy influence, Lynne's ability to put together radio friendly pop with lush orchestrations sounded very much like a direction the Beatles might have gone in had they stayed together. In fact, it was closer to the sound Paul McCartney and Wings had employed throughout the 70's as well. The only drawback was the 'soft rock' categorization ELO suffered as a result.

Lynne, named one of the top ten rock producers of all time, would go on to work with George Harrison and help form the super group The Traveling Wilburys.

What I find amazing all these years later, is how the music seems at once both fresh and frozen in time.

I'm just sayin'.

Strange Magic

Strange Magic- Electric Light Orchestra (Live, 2001)

Turn To Stone- Electric Light Orchestra ( Live, 1978)

Livin' Thing- Electric Light Orchestra ( Live, 1978)

Telephone Line- Electric Light Orchestra (live, 1978)

Rockaria- Electric Light Orchestra (1976)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The mother of all posts

I like to think of Mother's Day as a wonderful celebration of all things maternal. Problem is there are few songs if any that share this sentiment. Most are incitements of moms and mothering in general. Granted, I wasn't there while they were being reared, but everyone from John Lennon to Glenn Danzig paint a pretty bleak picture of their mothers.

With a little diligence, I was able to find a suitable expression of devotion for all the mothers out there, performed by Mr. T.

I pity the fool that don't love their mother!

I'm just sayin'.

Happy Mothers Day!

Treat Your Mother Right- Mr. T

Mother- John Lennon (Live, MSG, Aug. 30, 1972)

Bohemian Rhapsody- Queen (1975)

Mother- Pink Floyd (Aug. 9, 1980)

Mother-Danzig (1992)

Stacy's Mom Has Got it Going On- Fountans of Wayne (2003)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Trying to touch and reach you with heart and soul

On this day in 1973, Apple Records released Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth), the lead single from George Harrison's Living in the Material World.

Always playing second fiddle to Lennon and McCartney, I think Harrison was actually the best songwriter of the group. While John pushed his peace/revolution agenda and McCartney was content with neatly crafted pop songs, Harrison married the two styles seamlessly. IMHO, his songs were as simple in their composition and as catchy as Paul's best (Yesterday, Penny Lane, Hey Jude, etc.) and more honest and thoughtful than Lennon's most cerebral and acerbic offerings (All You Need Is Love, Revolution, Imagine, etc.). Harrison's songs are pure truth in words and music, and this one of his best.

The track was Harrison's Imagine, only better. A sweet, simple diddy about peace and love, it touched upon Harrison's belief in reincarnation, a result of his practice of Hinduism and Hare Krishna. Where Lennon's 1971 Imagine is anthemic and far reaching in it's scope, it is equally a critical and unrealistic (albeit beautiful) grouping of hopes leveled upon the listener. The most striking being Lennon's musings of a world where there is no Heaven, Hell or religion, whereas in contrast, Give Me Love is a prayer, and appeal for love and understanding invoked directly to the Lord. Instead of abandoning faith, Harrison embraces it. More intimate in it's dimension, it's earnestness allows it to achieve a much grander and realistic vision of what we can achieve. I think it's an important distinction to acknowledge and the ultimate confirmation of George Harrison's deeply held faith as well as his masterful songwriting.

Bottom line is I think the ex-Fab Four spent a good part of the early 70's in a pissing contest played out on the pop charts. George had the biggest chip on his shoulders, residual resentment for the two-song quota, no doubt. Hell, even Ringo got in on the action (with a little help from his friends).

It's hardly subtle irony that this song reached No. 1 on June 30, 1973, replacing McCartney's My Love at the top of the charts.

I'm just sayin'.

Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)

Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)- George Harrison (Live in Japan, 1992)

Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)-Jeff Lynne & Co. (Concert for George, 29 Nov. 2002)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Blue skies

To observe the second anniversary of the passing of my mother, I wanted to share one of her favorite songs and one of mine from an artist we both loved.

Blue Skies
, the Irvin Berlin classic covered by Willie Nelson on his 1978 crossover release of standards, Stardust, reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 Country Singles in September 1978. What made this cover so remarkable, was Nelson's interpretation. His measured, saturnine delivery enhanced by his trademark nasal vocals and accompanied by Mickey Raphael's weeping, wailing harmonica transformed the upbeat melody into a poignant, wistful ballad. I am convinced it is the best cover of the song ever recorded.

When the album came out, my mom had it on 8-track, and would play it non-stop. I still remember exactly where the songs would fade, change tracks and resume playing.

The second song is one of my all time favorites, Angel Flying To Close To The Ground. An amazing, touching testament to love.

To me all songs are memories, and these will always be bittersweet.

I miss you mom.

Blue Skies

Angel Flying To Close To The Ground

Blue Skies- Willie Nelson & Family (Wembley Arena, 198?)

Angel Flying To Close To The Ground- Willie Nelson & Family (Honeysuckle Rose, 1980)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Four dead in Ohio

On this day in 1970, four students are shot and killed by the National Guard on the campus of Kent State University. The event was the culmination of several days of anti-war protests when the Govenor and college officials allowed soldiers on campus to control the throngs of students involved in the protests.

Neil Young, who next to Dylan was arguably one of the most influential protest singer/songwriters of the day, wrote the song after seeing the shocking images of the massacre in LIFE magazine. In less than two weeks, along with Crosby, Stills and Nash they rehearsed and recorded the song on one take at the Record Plant in Los Angeles. It is rumored that David Crosby wept when the take was complete. A dark day in American history, poignantly preserved by CSN&Y.

A terrible tragedy but an amazing song.

I'm just sayin'.


Ohio-Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (Live, 1974)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Welcome back

In this time of uncertainty, nothing comforts more than the familiar. We take solace in things remembered, things that came before, the things that worked in the past. And nothing works better than pure, natural sugar.

To coincide with Pepsi's release of their 'Throwback' formulations of two classic colas, Actual Monkey joins in the sugary sweetness with John Sebastian's May 1976 hit Welcome Back.

Sebastian, former front man of the Lovin' Spoonfuls, a leftover of the 60's hippie movement scored an unexpected No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the sappy theme song from the wholly unfunny sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.

Who needs high fructose corn syrup when you've got Sweathogs.

I'm just sayin'.

Welcome Back

Welcome Back-John Sebastian (1976)

Pepsi Throwback Spot (2009)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wall of sound-free on bail

Phil Spector may be serving an 18 year bid for second-degree murder, but his 'wall of sound' remains free. Exhibit A is Glasgow's Indie pop sweethearts, Camera Obscura.

The band recently released their fourth LP, My Maudlin Career (4AD) just days before the legendary producer was sentenced for the murder of B-movie actress Lana Clarkson.

Abandoning much of the lush orchestration of 2006's Let's Get Out of This Country (Merge), their latest offering capitalizes on simple, breezy arrangements complimented by Tracyanne Campbell's airy vocals. Think Leslie Gore on the T.A.M.I. Show. A subtle country twang rounds things out while the 'wall of sound' production lends a nostalgic, yet authentic edge to this fine collection of dreamy, romantic pop.

Perfect for cuddling with your cell mate on those long nights in Gen. Pop.

I'm just sayin'.

My Maudlin Career

Camera Obscura- French Navy (2009)

Camera Obscura- Lloyd, I'm ready To be Heartbroken (2006)

Camera Obscura- If Looks Could Kill (2006)

Leslie Gore- You Don't Own Me (T.A.M.I. Show, 1964)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

100 days

He's as blind as he can be,
Just sees what he wants to see,
Nowhere Man can you see me at all?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

There's a thousand things I want to say to you

On this day in 1977, the Jam released their first single In The City. The mod-revivalist trio would go on to have 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the U.K., including four No. 1 hits. Angry and successful.

I'm just sayin'.

In The City

The Jam- In The City (Tony Wilson's So It Goes, 1977)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How long has this been going on?

Happy birthday to rock journeyman Paul Carrack. The ex-Ace/Roxy Music/Squeeze/Mike & The Mechanics keyboardist turns 58 today. An accomplished session player, Carrack has also gigged with the likes of Nick Lowe, the Pretenders and the Smiths.

I remember How Long getting some serious air play in our house when I was a wee lad. It was one of my Mom's faves and she would play it repeatedly. Great tune.

BTW, nice kofia on Mr. Carrack. From the research I did to find a suitable picture, seems like it's a staple of his wardrobe. His hairline may have receded, but his career goes on.

I'm just sayin'.

How Long
Silent Running

Ace- How Long (1974)

Roxy Music)-Oh yeaH (1980)

Squeeze- Tempted (1981)

Mike and the Mechanics- In The Living Years (1988)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Madchester United!

The Disco fever that had us in it's grip finally broke over the weekend. It's bound to return, but until it does let's focus on the dreary little hamlet of Manchester.

I just watched 24 Hour Party People again on IFC last night (for the umpteenth time). Brilliant movie. Brilliant cast. Brilliant story, and most of all, in an appropriate homage to Tony Wilson, brilliant music.

I had just reached legal drinking age when the Madchester scene split the shores of England and headed our way. Not a big fan of Ecstasy, I chose a variety of other hallucinogens to aid in my enjoyment of the music. Turns out twenty years later, I didn't really need them. The music is pretty good all by itself.

My fondest memory was from '91. After I had cleaned up my act, me and a few fellow ravers went to see Soho and Jesus Jones and at Nassau Community College Student Union, then high-tailed it over to the Malibu to catch EMF and The Happy Mondays, all on the same night. I can still remember Bez, totally tweaked out of his mind up on stage. All I could think was "wow, that guys is really, really high". They were amazing. I was never convinced Shaun Ryder was a genius. He was definitely a hooligan. But man, those mad bastards knew how to groove.

A few weeks ago my cousin posted a recent infomercial featuring Bez, hawking Madchester's greatest hits. I am convinced this guy is more fried than a bucket of the Colonel's original recipe.

I'm just sayin'.

MonkeyMix: Madchester & Beyond
1. Step On
2. Fools Gold
3. Loaded
4. The Only One I Know
5. Cübik
6. 24 Hour Party People
7. Connected
8. Kinky Afro
9. Come Together
10. This Is How It Feels
11. Country House
12. Laid
13. I Wanna Be Adored
14. Dennis And Lois
15. Then
16. Movin' On Up


File under glaring omissions: There's No Other Way

Bez's Madchester Anthems (2008)

Happy Mondays- Step On (1990)

Stone Roses- Fools Gold (1990)

Primal Scream- Loaded (1990)

The Charlatans- The Only One I Know (1990)