Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Love Is A Mix Tape

"Love Is A Mix Tape" by Rob Sheffield is one of the best books about Rock and Roll and its omnipresent effect on the lives of the people who love it that I have ever read. Although the art of the mix tape is slowly dying, for many of us who've been fans since before the digital age, it was a major part of our musical appreciation. Just like doing this blog is a means of expression for me, making a mix tape was a way to bare one's soul. We made tapes to woo, to console, to celebrate, to wallow or just to party. They were never merely a haphazard collection of songs. Each song had to be the perfect continuation of the last one, comprising a 45 minute suite that somehow said in music what we could not express verbally. And then we got to do it all over again on the other side. "Love Is A Mix Tape" is about one man's life, both with and without the love of his life as expressed through Rock and Roll. The fact that his musical tastes and mine were sometimes quite different made little difference to me the more I read. Most important to me was the reaffirmation of the power of music we love to not only chronicle our lives but to actually transform them.

Alex Chilton - Bangkok
I can't imagine what Alex was thinking of when he recorded this sometime in the late 70s (if my memory serves me right) but nonetheless it's a great song. New wave before there was any new wave.
The Bedlam 4 - No One Left to Love
I know absolutely nothing at all about this record. As far as I know it's only available as a reissue single. Copies might still be available through Bomp or Norton.
Clarence 'Frogman' Henry - Troubles, Troubles
Clarence Henry always struck me as a slightly more raucous version of Fats Domino which, come to think of it, is not a bad thing at all. This song was the flip side of his first hit "Ain't Got No Home".
Kate & Anna McGarrigle - Complainte Pour Ste. Catherine
I just heard the sad news that Kate McGarrigle lost her battle with cancer today. Back in the early 70s I was heavily into singer-songwriters and I remember buying the first Kate & Anna McGarrigle album mainly because they had written "Heart Like A Wheel" for Linda Ronstadt. At that point I was already starting to be bored with all of the samey-soundingness of much of what I was listening to. The McGarrigles were a real breath of fresh air and their album became a favorite that remains so until this day. My condolences go out to the McGarrigle and Wainwright families. Your loss is ours as well.
Pavement - Elevate Me Later
In his book, Rob Sheffield talks a lot about Pavement. He was and is a big fan. Having not paid them much attention up to this point, I got curious and decided to check them out. Much of their music demands more attention than I have had the time to devote so far, but there were a handful of songs that grabbed me on first listen. This was one of them.
Herman's Hermits - Hold On
Just this afternoon they showed "Hold On" on IFC. Unemployment does have its little benefits I guess. For much of my life Herman's Hermits were a guilty pleasure as they were considered way too teenybopper to really be taken seriously. The truth of the matter is that they had lots of great songs like this movie title song. And the movie itself was kind of cool as well - lightweight but fun.
Gary U.S. Bonds - This Little Girl
Produced by Bruce Springsteen, "This Little Girl" made it to number 11 on the Billboard chart in 1981 and gave Gary's career a well-deserved boost.
The Pretenders - Boots Of Chinese Plastic
Although they have been recording pretty steadily since the 80's, I had pretty much lost track of The Pretenders over the years. But a few months ago I read a really good review of their latest album "Break Up The Concrete" from which this is taken and I decided to hear what they were up to. What a pleasant surprise to find that either this was a return to their former greatness or perhaps they never lost any of their old fire to begin with.
Roger Collins - Promised Land
Roger is best known for "She's Looking Good" on Galaxy and from the sound of it, this funkified version of the old Chuck Berry classic was recorded a few years later, perhaps around 1970 or so for the Pompei label.
The Missing Links - You're Drivin' Me Insane
What can I say about this record? It's an absolute stone garage/freakbeat classic. So many incredible records came out of Australia in the mid-60's and this one was definitely one of the best.
The Replacements - Nowhere Is My Home
This was recorded during some sessions the boys did with Alex Chilton in the mid-80's but for some reason it only came out on the UK-only release "Boink". I think it is now a bonus track on one of their recent album reissues which is a lucky thing for us as I personally think it's one of the best songs they ever recorded. I love that little lead guitar riff.
Willie Hutch - Lucky To Be Loved By You
Although Willie is best known for his blacksploitation soundtracks "The Mack" and "Foxy Brown" his career dates back to the mid-60's when this northern soul classic was recorded for the RCA label.
Richard Berry - Have Love Will Travel
"Have Love..." has been recorded and played live by countless garage bands over the years but here is the original by the same man who not only wrote this but also "Louie Louie" as well. So why isn't he in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Flat Duo Jets - Needles And Pins
I'm so used to hearing this song with The Searcher's sugar-sweet vocals that I had to play this version a few times before it began to grow on me. Although it's definitely a little rough around the edges, Dexter Romwebber has a really fine voice.
Clifford Brown & Max Roach - The Blues Walk
Clifford Brown and Max Roach are two names that will always be associated with 50's bebop. I'm not sure who else is playing on this session. This is what I love about the best jazz. A bunch of guys (almost always) getting together and spurring each other on to greater heights of virtuosity, expanding on but never abandoning the original framework of the tune.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I didn`t think anyone else was hip any more to this very cool tune...