Saturday, February 14, 2009

GIHYB pick of the week

(moving my vinyl a week or 6 ago got me to thinkin)

The Kinks, The Kink Kronikles
subtitled: ray+dave+mick+pete = better than all your records

the best compilation i own (and widely recommend) is the "the kink kronikles". in its orig release, it's a double album of singles, b-sides, album tracks and unreleased tracks recorded by the band between 1966 and 1970 (since released on cd). the liner notes by john mendelssohn are almost worth the purchase. as a retrospective, it's a revelation, and to casual kinks fans, an eye-opener to ray (and dave's) songwriting prowess and inventiveness during their most fertile period. the sequence isn't the usual grab of hits (no "you really got me", "all day"). it's a deep look into the an amazing songwriter. there's no secret in ray davies gift. i still say, if they'd been given the budget the beatles had, there wouldn't be an argument for best british band of the 60s (ed note: and there isn't btw).

and for you nostradomus fans ... ray may be:

Friday, February 6, 2009

RIP Lux Interior

... if the ramones sounded like rock liberators from the exotic grimy streets of nyc to my teenage ears, when the needle dropped on a cramps record it was fucking outer space. freaks, ne'er do wells, prowlers from wrong side of tracks never thought about, and absolute godhead. in the reagan saturated american indie scene i grew up in, sex in rock took a backseat to cold posturing, to longing, to isolation, to a bedroom filled by yrself. but the cramps were sexy. big black may have coined the title "songs about fucking", but the cramps oozed it ... every utterance, every bleach of fuzz, every numbing drumbeat, every mangled microphone stand. lux and ivy shook the pillars. they were the dark screams every parent aired in the 50s. they were the elvis ...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ahem revisited, or, mind the bollocks

from the Guardian UK ...

Country Life butter soars after Johnny Rotten's star turn

It has been one of the more unlikely celebrity endorsements; John Lydon, a member of the seminal punk band the Sex Pistols, advertising Country Life butter. But it appears to have worked.

Dairy Crest today said the campaign, featuring a spiky-haired Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, dressed in tweeds, had helped lift sales of the brand by 85% in the most recent quarter. Lydon, once better known for sending chills down the spine of middle Englanders, now appears adept at sending them to the chiller cabinet.

The performance of the brand helped to steady Dairy Crest after being forced to issue a profit warning in November. The business has been hit by spiralling milk prices, and sought to keep its costs down by laying off staff at its head office in Esher, Surrey.

In an interim management statement, Dairy Crest said group sales for the nine months to the end of December had improved by 4% compared with the same period in the previous year. Another key brand, Cathedral City cheese, was also a strong performer, increasing sales by 14%. The company said it had also captured a larger share of the Marks & Spencer cheese business, which would improve results next year.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

the best post-VU record

our latest gift to the blogzaphere is our crack staff's attempt to find the best solo record made my a member of the velvets. as nico and cale left before the band ended, we start from their moment of departure.

jack's take

john cale, vintage violence

My vote for the best post VU record is John Cale's Vintage Violence.  Originally released in 1970, it bears little resemblance to the VU's catalog either with or without Cale. In lieu of the ugliness found on the two Cale VU records (particularly White Light/White Heat), Cale presents a country-pop record sounding often like a more radio friendly Flying Burrito Brothers.

In the CD reissue, Cale states that the songs are attempts to mimic his favorite songwriters of the time, and he cites the Bee Gees as an example.  While the record clearly draws some of the elements of their early Polydor LPs, influences from several other musicians/bands of the time are apparent.  In addition, the record seems to be a dubious precursor to both singer/songwriter and prog rock.  That being said, Cale's solo debut is not only a calm after the VU storm but also a legitimate attempt at radio accessibility.

The opening track, "Hello, There" could be a happier version of a Syd Barrett song complete with bar band style piano.  This leads into "Gideon's Bible" which sounds exactly like a song named "Gideon's Bible" should: Donovan and tons of marijuana.  "Adelaide", a train station sing-along with harmonica, follows Gideon and suggests the idea of anticipation, something not found on the VU records.  The next track, "Big White Cloud", appears to be the LP's big statement or at least the song that could have been=2 0the hit.  It's a solid song and employs the appropriate AM radio fadeout but sounds too much like a sober Jim Morrison doing karaoke.  This leads into "Cleo", a slightly annoying children's play song with rudimentary piano and call and response vocals.  It's somewhat out of place for a record of this caliber, but it's no worse than Husker's "How To Skin A Cat" and thus can be forgiven.  Side A closes with "Please".  Thematically a poor man's "Help", its melodrama is saved by its understated pedal steel and piano.

Side B opens with "Charlemagne" and suggests that Cale may have been one of the first people in the world to own Elton John's Empty Sky.  This is followed by "Bring It On Up", which would fit smoothly into any Grateful Dead set.  "Amsterdam" is probably the closest thing to a VU track and would probably have been sung by Nico had it been.  Several decades later, Belle and Sebastian would release several wussier variations of this song.  "Ghost Story" follows and is probably the weakest track.  It comes across as a pirate confessional with unnecessarily spooky keyboards and an inexplicably abrupt ending.  The LP ends with the Garland Jeffreys penned "Fairweather Friend". His band, Grinder's Switch, played on the record.  A by the numbers rocker, it seems tacked on.

The CD reissue includes an alternate take of "Fairweather Friend" and an instrumental entitled "Wall".  The latter sounds like Cale tuning for "The Black Angel's Death Song" and is completely superfluous.

On the whole, Vintage Violence is a tasteful, accessible record with a highly disciplined backing band.  It shows restraint not expected from Cale in 1970.  He would later call the record naïve.  After VU however, naïveté was not only in order but also refreshing.