Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

Chris Squire, R.I.P.

Bill Bruford on Chris Squire:

Really saddened to hear of the death of my old Yes band-mate, Chris Squire. I shall remember him fondly; one of the twin rocks upon which Yes was founded and, I believe, the only member to have been present and correct, Rickenbacker at the ready, on every tour. He and I had a working relationship built around our differences. Despite, or perhaps because of, the old chestnut about creative tension, it seemed, strangely, to work.

He had an approach that contrasted sharply with the somewhat monotonic, immobile bass parts of today. His lines were important; counter-melodic structural components that you were as likely to go away humming as the top line melody; little stand-alone works of art in themselves. Whenever I think of him, which is not infrequently, I think of the over-driven fuzz of the sinewy staccato hits in Close to the Edge (6’04” and on) or a couple of minutes later where he sounds like a tuba (8’.00”). While he may have taken a while to arrive at the finished article, it was always worth waiting for. And then he would sing a different part on top.

An individualist in an age when it was possible to establish individuality, Chris fearlessly staked out a whole protectorate of bass playing in which he was lord and master. I suspect he knew not only that he gave millions of people pleasure with his music, but also that he was fortunate to be able to do so. I offer sincere condolences to his family.

Adios, partner. Bill.

"Close To The Edge" was possibly the first record I bought that wasn't The Beatles, Beach Boys or some other AM radio hit single.  I have two vivid memories, both involving the same minutes of opening music of Side One. One is of me alone in my room, experiencing that opening blast of chaos, anchored by one of the greatest rhythm sections in music, Bill Bruford and Chris Squire. My room was no bigger than a walk-in closet, taken over by thousands of records, yet I managed to pace frantically in what little space was left for me. I was beyond excited by the music which was light years away from "Wouldn't It Be Nice." I was nervous. The intro had only begun and yet it was already longer than every song on "Pet Sounds." 

When Side Two finished, I called my cousin. "Wait until you hear this!"

The second memory is from my cousin's room. I trained it over with my copy of "Close To The Edge." My cousin's friend had joined us. This band Yes was new to both of them, as well. Somehow, the band's four previous releases did not penetrate our listening wall of Beatles and Stones. They had little patience for new music, and since they were four years my senior, had even less patience for me. Same opening blast and they looked horrified. I begged them to wait it out. They did. They are still huge Yes fans.

It's easy to mock the pretentiousness of prog rock, especially a record called "Tales From Topographic Oceans," with four side-long epics, each with a title more ridiculous than the next. And maybe that was the record that fostered the ridicule from the naysayers who were still on the fence about the band and only needed one more gentle shove to fall off.

Bill Bruford was gone by 1974, and the ever-revolving doors brought in dozens more, all playing as Yes. I won't defend the last 30 years of output from the band. It has been spotty, though there was some magic here and there. But what Chris Squire, the anchor, and his band had accomplished on the first five records was special. These were unique sounds, blending early Beatles melodies and harmonies, psychedelic sounds, complicated rhythms and time signatures, and truly some of the best all out playing of instruments ever committed to tape. It is because of those first five Yes records alone that Chris Squire should be respected.  A great influence on many and a great loss too soon.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Songs Of The Week 7.0: 6/20-6/26

Union City Blue- Blondie
Razor Boy- Steely Dan
Defecting Grey-The Pretty Things
I Do Things Cone Naturally- Lee Bates
Desert Trip- Jonatahn Wilson
You Don't Know Nothing About Love- Carl Hall
Attics Of My Life- Grateful Dead


Friday, June 26, 2015

"Friday's 13": THE WEEKEND MIX

I wish I had some clever premise behind this weekend's mix. I don't. In the end, it was all about some songs I wanted hear. I will share this, though. I've been obsessing all week over Tom Petty's pronunciation of the word "possess" in the song "Scare Easy." That's something. OH...and I will be seeing Richard Thompson's Electric Trio this evening, touring behind his just released new record "Still," produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, so of course, I included RT's acoustic cover of a Brtiney Spears track from 14 years ago. Enjoy, good Woodies.


Matinee- The Posies
Angels Heap- Finn Brothers
What's Going Ahn- Big Star
Make The World Go Away- Bobby Bare Jr.
Wake Up Baby- Dion & The Wanderers
God Was In The Water - Bonnie Raitt
Scare Easy- Mudcrutch
Devil In His Heart- the Donays
Over London Skies- The Orchestra
What's A Matter Baby- Ellen Foley
Impatience- Elvis Costello
Oops! I Did It Again- Richard Thompson
Till The Rivers All Run Dry- Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Neil Young Post-"Rust Never Sleeps" Challenge

I had been gearing up to finally give the new Neil Young a spin when I received a serendipitous e-mail from a friend:

"How is the new Neil Young? I trust you guys to give me the straight dope."

Before I could reply (or listen), another friend who had been copied on the e-mail, replied:

"I would file it right next to Living With War and Fork In The Road as the Neil Young uselessly singing "Let's... all do the thing I'm di-rectly stating because I say so (band plays riff again)" trilogy. 
I'm as liberal as Neil if not more, but he sounds like he thinks Ohio worked because he sang "hey, let's all stop shooting college students today (guitar goes kachung-kachung, scree screeeeee)" instead of "tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'..."
I put "The Monsanto Years" right back on the shelf next to the still unplayed "Storytone" and listened to "On The Beach" instead.

I'm sure I've expressed my feelings about Neil before, so I will let my friend who sent the e-mail explain his, since we are on the same page:

"I love Neil Young. He has made a ton of shit that I cannot fucking stand. ("Greendale") He has also made some of my most favorite fucking music of all time. (The "Rust Never Sleeps" album.)

I have a challenge for all who are up for it. It's a little something that goes like this:

You are being considered for a dream position (when there was one) at Warner Brothers. The job is just about yours, but you have one last hurdle. You need to compile a 2 LP set- "The Best Of Neil Young: 1980-2014." It must be chronological and properly follow the time contraints of an album side (approximately 20 minutes per side) and must not include anything live or previously unreleased.

I look forward to the results.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Wizard/A True Birthday Boy

I thought it was only right, after weeks of tough love and criticism of Mr. Rundgren's recent releases, I'd remind myself why I've been a fan of Todd for 40 years. The man turns 67 years old today.

In a recent interview, he made a passing mention of more records to come and how he might even pick up the guitar again. Hopefully, he will play it and not blow into it for some experimental Bengalese hip-hop record.

In the meantime, these videos show two old friends stepping it up for each other. These boys can sure sing.