Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October- Mary & Paul "Under The Covers"

"Under the Covers" is a collection of favorite cover tunes from Paul & Mary Mena. Some are classics, some more obscure; some faithful homages to the original, and still others hilarious send-ups. What they have in common is that they are all great music. Enjoy!

M: 1) I Would Die 4 U (Mariachi El Bronx) A sometimes hardcore punk/sometimes mariachi band from LA covering the Prince classic but truly making it their own song.

P: 2) Gimme Some Money (Gories) Leave it to Detroit's before-it-was-trendy garage band to cover none other than Spinal Tap. My thanks to WMBR's James Dean Deathcar Experience for unearthing this one.

M: 3) Smells Like Teen Spirit (Los Straightjackets) This frenzied version of Nirvana's monster hit is covered by my favorite masked instrumental guitar band from Nashville. The cover art for the single is as priceless as the cover song itself.

P: 4) Where Did You Sleep Last Night (Nirvana) Kurt Cobain does a gut-wrenching acoustic interpretation of a Leadbelly blues chestnut.

M: 5) Cold Shot (Dr. John) From the Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded during Austin City Limits in 1995. Kind of a so-so CD but this song really stands out.

P: 6) Downtown Train (Everything But The Girl) Ben Watt and Traci Thorn turn a gritty Tom Waits tune into something serene and magical.

M: 7) Train In Vain (Annie Lennox) How could I not segue from one beautiful train song to the next? Annie Lennox covering The Clash.

P: 8) I Heard it Through the Grapevine (The Slits) The Slits were more than female punk upstarts with dreadlocks - they celebrated their influences with infectious energy and their own unique style.

M: 9) Ring of Fire (Dick Dale) The man in the Hawaiian shirt covers the man in black.

P: 10) Sunglasses After Dark (The Cramps) Only the Cramps could take a revered rockabilly standard by Dwight Pullen and turn it into something twisted and sinister. Needless to say, it's one of my favorite songs.

M: 11) I Saw The Light (Dash Rip Rock) Don't we all need to see the light after a sunglasses-wearing night? Despite their limited discography I somehow always manage to sneak a DRR song onto each CD club compilation, don't I?

P: 12) Disguises (The Jam) I love the way these ultra-serious mod punkers dismiss their idols in the Press while faithfully covering one of their lesser known tunes.

M: 13) Beat On The Brat (U2) U2 are so bombastic and take this song sooo seriously that it makes me I play the song over and over again.

P: 14) Mrs. Robinson (The Lemonheads) Paul Simon wishes he never gave up his hairpiece every time he hears this rollicking rendition.

M: 15) Season of the Witch (Luna) A song from yet another movie....Luna covers the Donovan hit from the soundtrack of "I Shot Andy Warhol".

P: 16) Going Going Gone (Richard Hell & the Voidoids) I'm not much of a Dylan fan, so it's somewhat ironic that I like this messy cover as much as I do.

M: 17) Sloop John B (Me First and the Gimme Gimmes) I must admit that I first heard this band during WBCN's final hours of broadcasting this summer. They played this Beach Boys cover along with the Me First rendition of Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down". Both songs blew me away.

P: 18) Try a Little Tenderness (The Von Bondies) Even though "C'Mon C'Mon" is a great song, this hidden track is the best cut on "Pawn Shoppe Heart"

M: 19) I Can't Help Falling in Love With You (Eels) For better or worse this song has been done by Elvis, UB40, Doris Day, Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam and Clay Aiken, just to name a few. This is a really beautiful and simple little version...Just "E" and his piano.

P: 20) Pale Blue Eyes (REM) Michael Stipe and company show their love for the Velvet Underground with this delicate, countrified arrangement.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

September- Chandler "Golddiggers of 2009"

Allright, Sept 30th- I feel like I'm cramming for finals! Wish I had some speed...

Decided to go mainly with recent discoveries this trip, though in many cases new tracks by old faves; totally new discoveries for me this year include Jenny Scheinman, Dressy Bessy, and David Mead...

1. The Real Ambassador; Never knew an album existed by Dave Brubeck, Louis Armstrong, and Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross until a week or so ago -apparently, this was some sort of liberal musical spearheaded by Brubeck (also features Carmen McCrae on a couple things, and at a couple other cuts I particularly dug, “They Say I Look Like God” and especially “Since Love Had It's Way”.) I suppose everybody knows Brubeck and Louis; the first Lambert Hendricks and Ross album, “The Hottest New Group in Jazz”, is my favorite, esp. “Sermonette” and “Cloudburst”, and apparently it has been re-released with some extra cuts (just 5 on itunes -yup. Itunes sucks -but a whopping 29 on the infinitely superior emusic, though in double album format.) You've got to pick and choose here, though, and try to remember that scat singing, in the person of these guys, King Pleasure, Betty Carter, Les Double Six, Ella, and very few others, once had real promise, most of which was decisively dashed by their modern successors. (Sort of like you can't blame Stevie Wonder for the horrifying school of vocalizing he founded that currently rages out of control, because he's still great, and how could he know it would lead to Mariah Carey?)

2. Prank Calls; Kelly Stoltz, a discovery of my nephew's, seems so far to be pretty much a one hit wonder, but he's still young, so you never know.

3. Wild Prarie Art; Paulette is a friend, and a true, hilarious, crazy genius -she used to have tons of stuff up on her website,, but now apparently just a lone best-of collection on CDBaby -don't “Liquor Store”, “I Like Coke”, “Shut the Fuck Up”, and especially “Chequessett Forever”, the latter featuring one of the most astounding vocal performances of all time. Paulette's a particularly great lyricist, so 30 second samples don't really do her justice, dammit.

4. My Fair Lady; Half of the Bird and the Bee is Inara George, Lowell George's daughter; their other great song is “My Love”

5. Hey May; Dressy Bessy have the world's worst name, plus they come from Denver, but, though they're a little hit or miss, I found a whole album's worth of great stuff from their catalog, and recommend them particularly to Muffs fans everywhere, and vice versa.

6. Your Wife and Mother; The Virtues and the Ambassadors -are they really two groups? It makes sense, because this song almost made me drive off the road when I heard it, and is probably too powerful to be performed by just one nadn (though my band, the Philharmonic, sure has a good time trying.) Got this off a series of Bluebeat compilations courtesy of my great old friend Mad Dog Hart, the Bully of Broadcasting.

7. Whither The Invisible Birds?; Deerhoof rule!

8. Dangerous Tools; Frances Baskerville, aka the Singing Psychic -a few years ago, my pal Keith Spring came up with some great videos from the Daily Show of the Singing Psychic, and more recently he found a bunch of stuff up on the WFMU blog, which is always an excellent source for completely out there shit, and you can't get much further out there than Frances.

9. Whatcha Gonna Do "Bout It; Doris Troy- had to get this one off vinyl from her debut album on Atlantic, which is choice right through; sorry about the skip! Other great cuts: “Lazy Days” and of course “Just One Look”.

10. The Highway's Coming; Tommy Womack -don't know much about this guy, except that this is from a live-in-the-studio collection, and my wife has had it on repeat for about two weeks.

11. Dododo (Ekassa No. 1); Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestros -you got me; another emusic discovery.

12. Beautiful Lover; Terry Adams is a longtime musical mentor, my favorite pianist in the world, and the mastermind behind one of my favorite bands, NRBQ (sadly defunct at present); quick, buy everything (well, maybe not literally, as they've got out tons and it's a very broad and indulgent range) -just listen, they're amazing, and this new album, “Holy Tweet”, is a swell listen right through. DO NOT pass up any chance to see him do anything live.

13. Come On Down; I guess Jenny Scheinman is mainly known as a violinist sometimes associated with Bill Frisell; I much prefer her one album of singer/songwriter stuff, mostly for her concise, unpretentious singing style.

14. Gee Baby; The first time we went to the old NRBQ house in Saugerties, about forty years ago (jesus!), Terry turned me on to this, plus King Pleasure, Monk, and a bunch of Jerry Lee and Beach Boys stuff I'd missed somehow. The song re-surfaced again this year for some reason, and we (the CTP) ended up covering it, which is a ton of fun. Thanks, Opie!

15. Kuu Lei; The Kalaama Quartet is again courtesy of Mad Dog Hart, off an album called “Hilo Hulas- 1930's Hawaiian Steel Guitar” that is a delightful surprise right through.

16. New Mexico; David Mead is a ridiculously good, high singer; a little slick, but “Chatterbox”, the album before his latest, is a good listen right through, and the others have some lovely moments.

17. Aquas De Marco; I got turned on to Elis Regina by my friend Tad Price, who one day turned up out of nowhere with 15 home-burnt Brazilian compilations -boy, was I glad to see him! Brazilian stuff has become a real passion for me, and I'd particularly recommend Marisa Monte and Caetano Veloso as well.

18. Comunhao; And Nelson Angelo Y Joyce, both well-respected solo artists in Brazil -this one's from the seventies collaboration, and was stumbled upon by my fake son, Fakey.

19. Celery Stalks Along the Highway; I've most often seen this song by the Will Bradley Orchestra featuring Ray McKinley called “Celery Stalks at Midnight”, but McKinley, the drummer, definitely shouts out “Celery stalks along the highway” at one point (which he supposedly did spontaneously in place of a 2 bar drum solo. They had a wonderful band together (Bradley was a trombonist, I believe), and did the original version of the Rolling Stones' “Down the Road A Piece”, as well as another one I always loved called “Rockabye the Boogie (Put the Eight Beat To Bed)”, and this one, which I also hope to cover someday. (By the way, there's a great animated abstract cartoon of this somewhere.)

20. Ana Eco; Jenny Scheinman, this time on violin. I usually don't care for solo violinists much, but I love great string arranging, and this is a beauty, off one of her instrumental albums.

21. I Used To Fly In My Dreams; Boatclub is my friend Tom Carns' band from Oakland, CA, and this, their debut, I believe, is a great album, full of surprises and mostly a lot more rockin' than this.

22. Something You Can't Return To; Jon Brion has done some great production and soundtrack work, including “Magnolia”, one of my favorite movies of all time, and “Synecdoche, NY”, which can be kind of a struggle to watch but is well worth it and full of its own kind of magic; there's some other good tracks on this one as well.

23. Timetakesthetimetakes (edit); I know absolutely nothing about Peder, as I haven't gotten around to following up on this track yet; Keith discovered them as well.

Loving all the music, everybody! (well, a lot of it, anyway...) Keep 'em coming!

ps By the way, sorry for burning this in itunes -sometimes I'm just plain lazy. Long liner notes, tho, huh?

pps And if you're in the mood for something really quiet and boring, check out my new solo album, “After She Left”.