Friday, April 23, 2010

Young At Heart

Last night I went to see the Young@Heart Chorus at the St. Ann's Warehouse Theater in Brooklyn, NY and I truthfully haven't had a more moving and stirring musical experience in quite some time. The chorus is composed entirely of elderly people (the youngest member at the moment is 73) but no way is this just an activity for some bored and lonely senior citizens. While they did throw in a few old standards, their repertoire is remarkably varied and rather contemporary with selections ranging from Neil Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly & The Family Stone to The Replacements, Wilco, Joy Division, Nirvana and The Buzzcocks. I take my hat off to their directors Bob Cilman and Ken Maiuri for the depth of their musical knowledge as well as their arrangements. These remarkable performers don't try to hide their age by trying to look young. In fact, it is their age, along with some incredible vocal chops, that gives the music much of its power. One of the songs they performed was The Buzzcocks' "What Do I Get", a definite favorite of mine. and hearing it performed by a woman who was probably in her 70's instead of a guy in his 20's or 30's gave it a whole different perspective. Same goes for the incredible performance of Jerry Butler's "Only The Strong Survive" sung by a man who reminded me of a retired English teacher. One of the highlights for me was a rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Missing" which originally appeared as a single in Europe (I told you their musical directors really know their stuff!) and when I got home, found the original online and listened to it, I was disappointed. I liked the Y@H Chorus' version so much better. The same goes for their version of Blondie's "Dreaming" which was sung by a frail looking elderly lady, someone you give up your seat on a crowded subway train to, with one of the most beautiful, crystal clear voices I've heard in quite some time. Although they didn't perform it last night, they have a pretty funny video of "I Wanna Be Sedated" on YouTube which is well worth watching. I went to the show expecting some kind of Sha Na Na for the Geritol Set but what I got was so much more and I was totally blown away. As we of the Rock & Roll generation grow older, it is heartwarming, inspiring, and quite frankly, reassuring to see that the music we love has the power to keep us feeling young even when our backs ache and our knees hurt.

The Lyres - Sick And Tired
Unfortunately, the Lyres (or at least Jeff Connolly) seem to be in retirement these days as I can't remember the last time they played. Jeff was always an incredibly soulful singer and this version of Chris Kenner's classic might be my favorite one of all.
Johnny Soul - Lonely Man
Here's another song I bet Connolly and Co. would do a great job on but even he would have to go some to make me forget Johnny Soul's rockin' original.
Spirit - I Got A Line On You
I've never been a fan of Spirit. To me, most of their music was little more than a whole bunch of noodling with very little real substance. This is the one exception and what an exception it is! Unfortunately, every mix of "...Line" I've ever heard has always sounded kind of weak and watered down, lacking the punch it needs to really send it over the top. I seem to remember The Fleshtones doing a really great version of this at some of their old shows.
Roy Orbison - Land Of 1000 Dances
Back in the 60's many artists would release albums with one or two singles and fill the rest up with some hastily recorded covers of current hits. I don't now if that was Roy's intention here but he really does a terrific job on this song. I especially love the organ playing. Check out this link to see a great live version, probably from around 1968 or so judging by the clothes and hairstyles.
Funkadelic - Hit It And Quit It
Back in the late 60's/early 70's I wasn't quite ready to fully appreciate George Clinton's unique brand of psychedelic, stoned-out funk. Sly & The Family Stone were about as far out as I was willing to go in that particular direction. Better late than never I always say.
The Nerves - When Ya Find Out
More often than not The Nerves are remembered for their original members' subsequent careerts rather than their own output. While that's totally understandable the truth of the matter is that they did record a handful of nice catchy upbeat power-pop tunes, this being one of them.
The Trolls - Don't Come Around
The garage comp database shows at least five bands calling themselves The Trolls back in the mid-60's. The "Don't Come Around" Trolls came from Pueblo, Colorado and had a handful of worthy singles at the time, including a remake of The Stones' "Stupid Girl".
Millie Vernon - Bloodshot Eyes
"'Uh uh! Don't roll them bloodshot eyes at me!" You tell 'em Millie. By the sound of things, she doesn't sound like anyone you'd want to cross. I think this is actually a cover of an Amos Milburn record. According to an undocumented online source, she died of Alzheimers about a year and a half ago. If anyone out there has any more info, please leave an update in the comments section.
Kim Fowley - In My Garage
I've always appreciated Kim Fowley more for his outside productions than his own records. But I've always had a soft spot for this Dylan cop that he did around 1979 or so.
Vashti Bunyan - Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind
I think I kinda screwed up in that the file has a different song title - this is the correct one. It's also a Jagger-Richards song that was probably deemed not suitable for The Stones. Listening to this as I write I can hear that this is not exactly the best rip. I'll try to find another one and repost it at some point.
The Toppers - I'm So Lovesick
Until I got this on a German beat group comp I had never heard of the band or the song. Whoever is singing really has quite a voice and the band does an admirable job backing him up. It's good enough that I have to hope this was a hit somewhere in the world. I also have to wonder what it would have sounded like had The Animals gotten their claws into it (bad pun I know, I'm sorry).
Teenage Fanclub - Escher
Long time followers of this blog know how much I love these guys. This is from their "Thirteen" album. Listening to it again as I write, I can't help but think that this might be a good song for the Young@Heart chorus to try. They have a new album coming out later this year and a link to one of their new songs (no download, just for listening) can be found in the comments section of one of my more recent posts.
Willie Ward And The Warblers - I'm A Madman
I love crazy crap like this! For me it's truly one of life's great gifts to be constantly discovering gems like this that fell through the cracks at the time and are finally getting the appreciation they deserve all these years later.
The Roosters – Ain't Gonna Cry Anymore
According to the garage database, although there were a number of bands called The Roosters, none of them had a record called "Ain't Gonna Cry Anymore" or if they did, it was never on any comp. I think I must have gotten it from one of Gyro's garage comps on the old Twilight Zone blog. For those of you who missed it, here it is in primo sound quality.
AC/DC - Big Balls
Only AC/DC could get away with singing a song called "Big Balls". Nobody ever said they didn't have a sense of humor.
John Coltrane - Straight Street
Recorded in May of 1957, not long after leaving Miles Davis' band, this is Coltrane still in his relatively formative years. Nonetheless, he's still developed his style enough to take the melody to some very interesting places.


glenn said...

Thanks YB! I didn't know that "In My Garage" was a Dylan song. Nice ending with Coltrane, but let's not get carried away with friggin' J toonz! -))

Trebor said...

You write very well.

YankeeBoy said...

Thanks Trebor. Actually Glenn "In My Gaarge" isn't a Dylan tune but he totally copped Dylan's style on this record. Sorry for not being clearer.

Perrata 2000 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
YankeeBoy said...

Thanks Perrata - what is your blog? Unfortunately I missed that documentary but hopefully they will show it again.

Perrata 2000 said...

OOps. My Blog is: