Friday, November 28, 2008

(A Somewhat Belated) Happy Thanksgiving

I hope that all of you out in Cyberland who celebrate Thanksgiving had a great day yesterday. I certainly did. I spent the day with good friends, ate lots of delicious food and enjoyed some stimulating conversation.  It doesn't get much better than that. With all of the crap that's happening in the world these days it's easy to get bogged down in negativity, so I think it's important to stay mindful of the good things in life, those people and things that make you feel glad to be alive. So, for today, this is my gratitude list. I'm grateful for my family who I know will always be there to help me up when I fall down. I m grateful for the good friends I have who are there for me when I need them. I'm grateful for my cat Mickey who is the cutest and sweetest little puss who loves to be petted and doesn't scratch up my record album covers. I am grateful that after 57 years on this earth I am learning to truly love myself, warts and all. I'm grateful that I am also finally acquiring some humility that, more and more, lets me see the world as it really is instead of just through the eyes of my own desires.  I'm grateful that I am learning to see the cup as half full instead of the other way around all the time. Finally, I am grateful for my wonderful apartment, my music collection, my life of relative abundance and the fact that all my problems are for the most part, problems of privilege. And now, as Ronnie Dawson used to say, "Gimme the downbeat Maestro". 

Barrence Whitfield - I Just Want To See You So Bad
Barrence Whitfield is one of the most incredibly talented and soulful vocalists I've ever heard. I've always loved this Lucinda Williams song but hearing Barrence sing it makes it even more special. 
The Byrds - It Won't Be Wrong
Speaking of favorite songs, if I had to choose just one, this would probably be my pick of all the fantabulous Byrds tracks that they've recorded over the years. It's from their "Turn Turn Turn" album and was also released as a single.
The DC5 - Don't You Know
Back in the day, the Dave Clark 5 were regarded as nothing more than a teeny-bopper singles band, not to  be taken seriously by 'real' music fans. It took long enough but luckily we musical snobs have learned a thing or two. This is an early album track that actually never came out on a 45.
Dave Davies - Creeping Jean
I'm not sure if this originally came out as by The Kinks or Dave Davies. Nonetheless, it's a terrific record and I just love that jack-in-the-box bass guitar riff.
Del Shannon - Move It On Over
Del never rocked out any harder than he did on this, one of his later Amy singles that unfortunately, went nowhere.
The Headless Horsemen - Can't Help But Shake
The Dogmatics - Gimme The Shakes
Back in the 80s and 90s when I used to be really into making tapes for people and parties, this was one of my favorite song combinations. Both bands were (and still are) personal favorites especially the Horsemen who were local friends and whom I must have seen at least 30 times over the years. Sadly, due to premature death and other destructions, it's very unlikely that either of these bands will ever reform. 
Jules & The Polar Bears - Sometimes Real Life
I've never been sure of what he's trying to say in this song but I love the chorus. "Sometimes real life is just like real life. Sometimes real life is just what we expected". True, true.
Kenny & The Kasuals - Nothing Better To Do
I believe that this was their first single and while it's not quite on the same level as their legendary "Journey to Tyme", it's a better than average record in its own right. Awhile back I read somewhere that someone was putting out a band-sanctioned compilation of their best material presumably from master tapes and such. I really hope that's true but in the meantime, there's a pretty decent sounding CD out on Eva which is where this track came from. 
The Keys - I Don't Wanna Cry
I first discovered this little gem on one of the "Shake Some Action" comps and it immediately became a favorite. Those vocals, especially when they go into that mini falsetto, are just so innocent and sweet, the essence of pure pop.  
Lightnin' Hopkins - Mojo Hand
In complete contrast, Lightnin' Hopkins sings like a man who has been everywhere and seen everything. This is the title track from an album he recorded in 1962 which is supposed to be one of his better albums. It can be found relatively cheaply on Amazon. 
Ronnie Dawson - This Is the Night
Back in the 90s Ronnie was touring with this incredible backing band. I especially remember the lead guitarist who would just rattle off these amazing licks, one right after the other. From the sound of it, I think that band is backing him on this track which is from the "Monkey Beat" album.   
Teenage Fanclub - He'd Be A Diamond
In addition to their own songwriting abilities TFC are known for being able to cover a song and make it their own. "He'd Be A Diamond" was written and originally recorded by Bevis Frond but this version really brings out the wistful passion of the words. I remember the first time this song played on my Ipod on my way into work, I must have had it on repeat almost the entire rest of the day.    
The Count Bishops - Train Train
Caught up in the first wave of UK punk, the Bishops' brand of red hot bar band R&B was seen as somewhat passe at the time. This song in particular has a haunting quality to it that totally captivates me every time I hear it. 
The 7th Cinders - You Take Me For Rides 
This moody garage punk masterpiece was first unearthed on one of the Garage Punk Unknown albums. To my ears this record had a lot more going on than many others of the same ilk and, with better production, had the potential to be at least a minor hit in the same vein as The Beau Brummels.
The Lazy Cowgirls - Still On The Losin' Side
I absolutely LOVE these guys. I've got about 4 or 5 albums by them, plus a single or two and while they all may sound pretty much alike, when you do what they do so well, there's really no reason to reinvent the wheel. I saw them a bunch of years ago when they did a show at CBGBs and, as you might imagine, they were awesome.
The Lyrics - Mr. Man
These guys are best known for their two 60s garage classics "So What" and "They Can't Hurt Me" so this song sometimes gets overlooked.  Which is a shame because while it might not be quite as intense as the other two, it still packs quite a wallop both lyrically and musically.

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