Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Those summer nights are callin'

One on my personal summer faves has always been Journey's 'Stone In Love'. One of the few non-charting songs from 1981's Escape, the song to me is both prophetic and ironic.Here I am almost 30 years later reminiscing about those crazy nights in my own youth.

From what I can still clearly remember about the summer of '81, it was the first year I didn't spend at our summer house in the Poconos, instead forced to attend summer school at what we affectionately referred to as 'Camp Mineola'. Now I can't remember who I was dating back then, but there is no doubt she was a blue jean girl.

Besides stewing in my own juices in July–in a high school–without air conditioning, I can recall feasting on a steady diet of power chords. And there was plenty to be had: Van Halen's Fair Warning, Billy Squire's Don't Say No, Ozzy's Diary of a Madman, Rush's Moving Pictures, Foreigner's 4, and Def Leppard's High and Dry rocked my summer of 1981.

But the album that got the most play was Escape. Between Steve Perry's explosive vocals, and Neal Schon's soaring leads, the album was an instant classic for me and AOR stations across the country. It could be argued that Journey and Van Halen (both at their zenith) shared the monarchy as kings of arena rock.

I recently fashioned myself a Journey playlist and have been listening to Escape over and over. A little over-produced (the style of the day) and a lot adolescent, it still holds up to a serious session of air guitar.

I'm just sayin'.

Journey-Stone In Love (Live, 1981)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And I say it's all right

Not exactly a 'summer song', today's selection is still in keeping with the one thing most closely associated with summer, the sun.

The story goes that Harrison, bored with an Apple business meeting and tired of the infighting that was becoming commonplace in the band, absconded to a garden at Eric Clapton's place and wrote the song. The original riff was lifted from 'Badge', a previous collaboration between Clapton and Harrison.

In George's words, from Anthology: "Here Comes the Sun" was written at the time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: 'Sign this' and 'sign that'. Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever, by the time spring comes you really deserve it. So one day I decided I was going to sag off Apple and I went over to Eric Clapton's house. The relief of not having to go see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric's acoustic guitars and wrote "Here Comes The Sun".

I bet he wrote it without even breaking a sweat.

I'm just sayin'.

Here Comes The Sun- George Harrison & Friends (Concert for Bangladesh, MSG, 1971)

Here Comes The Sun- George Harrison & Paul Simon (SNL, 1976)

George Harrison & Paul Simon - Here Comes The Sun/Homeward Bound

Rob | MySpace Video

Badge- Eric Clapton (Prince's Trust Concert, 1996)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Just a week into summer and caught in the grip of the first heat wave of the season, AM is dedicating a few posts to some of the all-time hottest hits of summer.

Our first track by R&B crossover sensations, Sly and the Family Stone scorched the Billboard charts in August 1969 peaking at #2.

Hot Fun In The Summertime- Sly And The Family Stone

And since we're talking summer and Sly, we had to include the band's breakout performance at Woodstock. How about 3:30 am, Sunday August 17th to be exact.

I'm just sayin'.

I Wanna Take You Higher- Sly And The Family Stone (Woodstock, August 1969)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dying to sell product

First time around it was warm, charming — even sublime. An entire new generation was exposed to the melancholy reverie of Nick Drake. The 2005 spot 'Milky Way' created for the VW Cabrio by Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Miami was actually refreshing. The intimate nature of the song perfectly complimenting the moonlight drive. ScarJo lookalike and other assorted hipsters notwithstanding, the ad is effective. I'm also of the camp that using my favorite music in ads is sacrilege, but in this case–nice job. Well played.

Now let's consider the latest commercial for communications behemoth AT&T—that asks us to 'Rethink Possible', makes me want to rethink my wireless provider.

The ad is a mash up of all things hip, but like three years ago hip. The Christo 'Gates' inspired orange drapery flung off monuments and stretched across beaches is a cheap visual cue to represent coverage. Last time I checked, my iPhone got spotty coverage, at best. And enough with the CGI already. No matter how hard it tries, this commercial fails to make me feel an emotional connection to my phone company.

And the use of Drake's dreamy 'From the Morning' is awful, a forced fit. They would have been better served using Lady GaGa. What was captured in the VW ad, as honest (or as honest as a car ad can get) trumps the superficial hubris of the AT&T spot.

As for Nick Drake. He is the innocent victim of some well-negotiated posthumous rights usage. The saving grace is all this is that his songs and legacy remain—eerily frozen in time.

I'm just sayin'.

'Milky Way'- VW Ad (Nick Drake 'Pink Moon')

'Rething Possible'- AT&T Wireless (Nick Drake, 'From The Morning')

Monday, June 21, 2010

No One Is Ever Gonna Love You More Than Andrew

From an exchange earlier in the day with Rockturtleneck's own, Stephen J. Walsh:

How was the hipster-palooza? Was it hard to hear the music above all the tweeting, uploading, foursquaring and microblogging via iphone?

Actually the most distracting part of the show was the corralling on the part of the event staff. You had to wait on one line for a wristband, then another to purchase drink tickets, and yet a third to actually purchase drinks. On top of that the drinkers were kept in defined areas along the sides of the stage, while people not imbibing alcoholic beverages were free to roam throughout the outdoor venue. So much for the liberal, free thinking, anti-establishment vibe that Brooklyn gives off.

The show was amazing. We missed Karen Elson and waited on one of the va
rious lines during Grizzly Bear’s set, which was lackadaisical at best. That touchy-feely harmony driven pop just doesn’t translate on the big stage the same way it does when played through headphones.

was amazing though. Ben Bridwell started off by saying it was the last show of the tour (or this current leg) which had been like 76 shows in 90 days. The band was loose and having fun. They powered through songs like Funeral early in their set, satisfying the frat boy crowd hovering around Brooklyn Brewery’s impromptu beer gardens.

t 4-5 songs in, there was some kind of altercation- an over enthusiastic fan near the front. Ben made reference to it and found out the guy’s name was Andrew. This would become the running joke of the night. Between songs and in place of actual lyrics, he kept referring to this ‘Andrew’ in the crowd. It became such a gag, that some quick-thinking hipsters in an attempt to be instantly ironic, crafted an ‘ANDREW’ banner and hung it from the window they were viewing the show from, part of an old warehouse building directly behind the stage.

They pretty much cranked through everything, I mean everything. They even added a few spontaneous little jams between songs with some improvised ‘Andrew’ lyrics. These guys are really a great band. I really like all their albums, no matter how simple. And they have definitely gelled into a tight outfit live.

Hipsters notwithstanding, the Waterfront venue was great. Reminded me seeing shows at Pier 84 back when I was kid. Just big enough to feel like a concert, but intimate enough to connect with the band. I like the stage setup at Liberty Park better though, where NYC is the backdrop to the stage.

'Cept the ratio of hipsters to musicians isn't nearly as high in Jersey.

I'm just sayin'.

BoH setlist, 06.20.10 Williamsburg Waterfront:
    1. Am I A Good Man (Them Two cover)
    2. The Funeral
    3. Ode to LRC
    4. Wicked Gil
    5. Blue Beard
    6. Factory
    7. 13 Days (J.J. Cale cover)
    8. Cigarettes, Wedding Bands
    9. Islands On The Coast
    10. NW Apt.
    11. The Great Salt Lake
    12. Laredo
    13. Older
    14. Marry Song
    15. Compliments
    16. The General Specific
    17. Encore:
    18. Is There A Ghost?
    19. Weed Party
    20. No One's Gonna Love You
    21. Monsters

A few clips from the BoH instant show last Friday at Grand Central Station, courtesy of AOL. Yes, AOL:

And of course, Andrew:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Do You Like Piña Coladas?

Hit after mellow hit, a few things have become apparent. There is a formula to Yacht Rock. All these easygoing tunes share the following:

• Groovy electric piano
• Vibraphone, flugelhorn and/or flute
Congas, congas and more congas
• A breezy sax solo
• Themes of love, boating, exotic locations or all of the above
• White men with falsetto voices, bad hair and ill-fitting clothes

I'm just sayin'.

Yacht Rock Vol.3- Sail On

If You Leave Me Now- Chicago
Listen To What The Man Said- Wings
Diamond Girl- Seals & Crofts
Dance With Me- Orleans
Please Mr. Please- Olivia Newton John
The Best Of My Love- The Eagles
Wildfire- Michael Murphy
On And On- Stephen Bishop
If You Could Read My Mind- Gordon Lightfoot
I'm Not In Love- 10cc
Thank You For Being A Friend- Andrew Gold
Smoke From A Distant Fire- Sanford & Townsend
Whenever I call You Friend- Kenny Loggins & Stevie Nicks
Love Will Find A Way- Pablo Cruise
Ride Captain Ride-Blues Image
Chevy Van- Sammy Johns
Tin Man- America
Margaritaville- Jimmy Buffet
Life's Been Good- Joe Walsh
Maybe I'm Amazed- Wings
Sail On- The Commodores
Where Is The Love- Roberta Flack & Donnie Hathaway
Breezin'- George Benson
Just The Two Of Us- Grover Washington Jr. & Bill Withers
Sailing- Christopher Cross
Minute By Minute- The Doobie Brothers
Give Me The Night- George Benson
Escape (The Piña Colada Song)- Rupert Holmes
Arthur's Theme (Best That You Ca Do)- Christopher Cross
I'm Alright- Kenny Loggins

If You Could Read My Mind- Gordon Lightfoot (Midnight Special, 1974)

I'm Not In Love- 10cc (1975, UK Records)

Wildfire- Michael Murphy (Midnight Special, 1976)

If You Leave Me Now- Chicago (Live, 1977)

Love Will Find A Way- Pablo Cruise (Live, 1978)

Escape (The Piña Colada Song)-Rupert Holmes (Midnight Special, 1979)

Just The Two Of Us- Grover Washington Jr. Feat. Bill Withers (Elektra, 1981)

Aviance by Prince Machibelli

Martini & Rossi

1975 Chrysler Cordoba