Big Star + Rock Hall = An Inductee That Would Really Matter… or… Big Star – Complete Columbia: Live at University of Missouri

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A friend asked me “Why, of all the albums being released on Record Store Day 2016, are you waiting in line for a 90’s live album from a 70’s band?” The tone and nature of the question was meant to be mocking, as he loves to have lively music debates, particularly ones that push my buttons. However, instead of just reacting, I took a deep breath and thought about it. Then, just to be annoying I told him I would ‘write the answer.’ (hehehe…)

The reasons are three-fold.

Like many people, the album I first attach to a band tends to have the greatest impact. While I heard songs by Big Star from time to time, it wasn’t until the release of Columbia that I had a complete work in front of me which represented the band as a whole. A world opened up. Here was a collection of songs that didn’t need to be ‘epic’ stories of human struggle (ie. Bruce Springsteen) or carry images of Mordor (ie. Led Zeppelin) to have powerful depth. They also didn’t include anthem-like clichés to get people fist pumping in the air (pick your own example, as there are so many). “In The Street”, “Back Of A Car” and “September Gurls” leapt out of my speakers and made my own angst seem to matter. These songs were simple coming-of-age tales detailing everyday experiences without the ‘syrup’ provided by many of the ‘so-called’ classic rock bands of the day. Instead, Big Star gave us the kind of tunes that made you want to pick up a guitar and learn to play. Furthermore, you found yourself singing, not in some vain attempt to impress or attract anyone, but as an outlet to express yourself. Which is perhaps why I had been hearing covers of their songs by other artists as time went on; The Lemonheads, Matthew Sweet, The Bangles, The Posies, Teenage Fanclub and later Beck were all doing renditions of the songs of Alex Chilton or Chris Bell. The Replacements even wrote a song entitled “Alex Chilton”, dropping the line “never go far, without a little Big Star.” All of it was packed into this one album.

Next, this wasn’t an example of a band cashing in on fame. Big Star never had the kind of fame you could cash in on. Columbia was quite literally a concert put together by fans for fans and later released in a similar fashion. Two campus radio staffers at the University of Missouri quite literally asked Big Star alumni Jody Stephens if he would be willing to do a reunion show, and got a yes if Alex Chilton was up for it. Surprisingly, Chilton agreed and, with the addition of the Posies Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow to cover for Chris Bell (deceased) and Andy Hummel (left the music business), the band played an amazing set to (merely) an estimated 200 people. Yet even with a small venue, they managed to attract much of the music world. That show got glowing write-ups in all the major music magazines of the day. It was pretty unanimous amongst the press that those not lucky enough to be in attendance had missed something special. Fortunately, this record gives us a glimpse of a show that has attained somewhat legendary status.

Finally, Columbia solidifies my absolute belief that Big Star should be in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. All three of their initial studio releases (#1 Record, Radio City, Sister Lovers/Third) land consistently on various magazines’ Top Albums of all-time lists; all three are referenced by multiple generations of artists as being influential in their music; and all three are revered by fans lucky enough to have heard them as being close to their hearts. More importantly, their music has endured through the most insanely bad luck of any band in rock history. Their 1971 debut #1 Record was hailed as triumphant by music critics, but due to poor distribution and marketing by Stax, no one could find a copy to purchase, even when songs were played on the radio. Follow up Radio City suffered a similar fate, with Columbia records refusing to distribute the record because of a disagreement with their newly acquired Stax label. By the time Big Star released the gorgeous yet challenging Sister Lovers/Third, the band had completely disintegrated with only Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens remaining. They went their separate ways and that should have ended the story… but it didn’t.

Fans exchanged cassettes with Big Star tunes. Those in the know kept talking and searching until a market was created for re-releases. More than two decades removed from their first record and people were seeking them out based on little more than conversations and scratchy recordings emanating from a tape deck. By the early 90’s, Ryko had reissued Sister Lovers/Third and a put out a compilation of Chris Bell’s solo material, I Am The Cosmos. Then Columbia was released in 1993.  A tribute album was recorded by a virtual who’s who of 90’s alt-rock artists (ironically, it also suffered from bad luck and wasn’t released until years afterward). When Columbia was released, it may still have been hard to find the first two Big Star records in stores, but here were the songs; live, rough and glorious in their presentations. All members were taking on vocal duties, with Jon Auer doing an incredible job on the solo Chris Bell single “I Am The Cosmos.” As the 90’s continued, That 70’s Show used “In The Street” as their theme song and a new generation started to discover the band. Finally, their albums could be found in record stores.

Somehow, without radio backing or touring, people were seeking out this music.

Which brings me to the Rock Hall…

If, as I believe, rock ‘n’ roll is about more than money or popularity, then Big Star should be inducted and Columbia is a perfect example of why. Here is a band whose art transcended obscurity by nothing more than word of mouth and shared recordings. Without the help of corporate money and radio exposure, their music found a way to not only be heard, but in fact influence generations of future musicians. Hell, the entire sub-genre of “power-pop” can’t even be considered without Big Star being mentioned as its greatest practitioners. It is hard to picture the sounds of the 90’s alternative music scene without the influence of songs that Alex Chilton and Chris Bell provided. Then, you add the Big Star reunion to the mix.

Complete Columbia: Live at the University of Missouri 4/25/93 exemplifies the very idea that great music will find fans and that record sales are not as important as the art itself. On-stage that day in ’93 were two musicians who had created some music playing with two other musicians that had been directly inspired by it. Twenty years separating their careers, yet you could hear just how much Big Star had meant to the future of rock music. They weren’t just another band that you hummed along to distractedly on a transistor radio; they were the band you sought out and told anyone and everyone willing to listen that Big Star were “FUCKING AWESOME!!!”

So my friend… you ask me why I’m arriving early on RSD 2016 to line up for a copy of Columbia… or even, why they should be in the Rock Hall… well, it’s because Big Star created music that really matters… what other reason is there?

Soooooooo much to pick from… Record Store Day 2016 Preview

What a difference a few weeks makes. When the early Record Store Day (RSD) leaks started trickling in, there looked to be a bit of a “nothing to write about” syndrome. WELL – HOLY EMPTY THE FREAKIN’ WALLETS FOLKS… it’s gonna be a big one, particularly for those of you who enjoy classic, alternative or indie rock. Even pop music and jazz fans have a bit to cheer about here. That said, there are some discrepancies between the overall RSD preview list and the official RSD Canada list, so make sure you check both.

Ironically, the first difference between the official list and the Canadian version is the absence of this year’s RSD Ambassadors’ Metallica. For the annual physical medium celebration, the band are releasing a CD of their 2003 Bataclan performance entitled Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, Metallica, with proceeds going to the Give To France Charity for victims of the Paris attacks. Unfortunately, the CD set doesn’t make the list of Canadian releases. Other notable misses come in the form of Superchunk’s Tossing Seeds (Singles 89-91) LP and a great looking Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention 7” for “My Guitar” and “Dog Breath.”

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However, absence from the list doesn’t mean you should give up hope. Like all RSD outings, the trick is to enjoy the experience of hanging out with a bunch of music geeks and going over the days’ spoils with like-minded friends. Sometimes things vary country to country and store to store; so as long as you don’t take any list as gospel, everything should be OK.

Here are a few of the days’ highlights.

For classic rock fans, there are releases coming to you from Bowie, Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, The Monkees, CCR, and The Kinks.

As has usually been the case, several David Bowie collector items are being released for RSD as exclusives, including one 7” and two 12” records. The 7” continues Bowie’s 40th anniversary picture disc single series with “TVC15.” In addition, two of Bowie’s earlier works are getting special treatment. I Dig Everything – 1966: The Pye Singles is coming out as a 12” LP (limited to 7500 copies) and The Man Who Sold The World (limited to 5000 copies) is being released as a 12” picture disc featuring the rare German artwork.

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Smash Hits is getting a new lease on life from a rare cover. The original “cowboy cover” is being restored for this LP, which is numbered and limited to 5000 copies.

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Perhaps the coolest release of RSD will be Cheap Trick’s At Budokan: The Complete Concert. The original 1979 album contained 10 songs including the classic “I Want You to Want Me”, which sold over 3 million copies and peaked at number 4 on Billboard’s Top 200. The Complete Concert will contain those ten originals plus an additional nine songs played from the legendary show. It will be pressed onto two 150 gram LPs and limited to 5000 copies.

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If you want something unique, look no further than the Monkees. In addition to their complete Classic Album Collection box set, containing all 9 studio LPs plus a bonus B-sides grouping, they are releasing a 7”picture disc of “Saturday’s Child” shaped like a guitar.

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For ‘Spirit of Radio Fans’ there is much to look at. Early alt-rock pioneers The Sonics are checking in with Live On Easy Street, a live LP from their recent reunion tour.

Simple Minds, who also toured last year, are releasing a 2XLP red vinyl set entitled Big Music Tour 2015. Sex Pistols will have Never Mind The Bollocks… released on a 12” picture disc featuring artwork reversing the colours from the original North American release.

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90’s alt-rock kids are also getting quite a selection. Leading the charge is Matthew Sweet, with his alternate take on the classic Girlfriend LP – Goodfriend. This collection of home demos, live performances and session recordings will be split onto two 12” inch records and limited to 4000 copies.

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Soul Asylum’s Grave Dancers Union is also getting the double LP treatment for RSD that includes one red translucent and one green translucent wax that is being numbered and again, limited to 4000 copies.

In addition, there will be releases from Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), a vinyl box from Lush, a 7” split single between Faith No More and the Bee Gees, and a 12” single from Manic Street Preachers.

For modern alt-rock and indie fans there is a great selection to enjoy. Ezra Furman is releasing a 12” EP – Songs By Other with covers of songs by Beck, Arcade Fire, The Replacements and more.

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Frank Turner has an acoustic version of his album Positive Songs For Negative People on 12”black wax limited to 3000 copies.

Florence & the Machine are putting out a 12” single of “Delilah” on 180 gram coloured vinyl. In addition, the B-side is a cover of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.”

There will also be 7” and 12” singles from Chvrches, Best Coast, Hozier, 21 Pilots, and Wolf Alice to round things out.

For those of you with more ‘pop’ sensibilities, Ed Sheeran has several EP’s coming out, Justin Beiber is releasing 7000 picture disc copies of Purpose, and The Weeknd has a 12” remix of “The Hills.”

Even aging pop fans can look forward to Madonna’s Like A Virgin & other hits on 180 gram pink vinyl and Alanis Morissette’s Demo’s 1994 -1998 on 180 gram translucent splatter wax.

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Check out the official lists and see if there is something worth lining up for.  Trust me, I’m saving my nickels and hoping to get Big Star’s Complete Columbia: Live at the University Of Missouri 4/25/93. You know… just sayin’, because we can all find something to look forward too.

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“Open Up You Heart And Let The Sunshine In” or Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits

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The 90’s may have a lot of detractors, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t put out a nice bundle of compilation records. Near the top of my list was a whole ton of great artists giving a giant nod to my childhood – Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits. Featuring the Ramones, Liz Phair, Violent Femmes, Matthew Sweet, Juliana Hatfield and a host of others, Saturday Morning featured covers of some of cartoons finest moments.

Frente! covers the Flintstones “Open Up You Heart And Let The Sunshine In.” The duo of Juliana Hatfield and Tanya Donelly blast through “Josie and the Pussycats” and the Ramones tackle my personal favorite “Spider-Man.”

The biggest problem is that there has been no reissue since its 1995 release, meaning that it can be a bit difficult to find and, in some cases, resellers have asked outrageous amounts of money for a disc. Getting it on vinyl is that much worse. Saturday Morning was released as a two disc wax set, but it is difficult to find anywhere close to home. Discogs has two on the resale market, but they are in Japan and Australia respectively. In these cases the asking price is near $50.00 plus shipping.

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Then you get others asking over $200.00 for the cassette.

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While I would love to get my hands on the vinyl, I guess my kids and I will have to dance around the house to the CD for the time being.

I Really Want This! Sweet Relief: A Benefit For Victoria Williams – Various Artists

 

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Back in ’93 I was given an album to review that became a best friend of sorts. Surprisingly it was a compilation record (which usually just don’t stand up due to inconsistency) of songs by an artist whose music was only known previously to musicians and music geeks, but it knocked me over. One song after another caught my imagination with vivid imagery and music that could be both morose and uplifting within the same moment. It was brilliant, which is something you usually can’t say for a record recorded by “various artists.” However, what holds it together is the artist to who the album was benefiting – Victoria Williams.

“My sister got bit by a copperhead snake in the woods behind the house” is the first line that pops out the old speakers as Soul Asylum breaks into “Summer Of Drugs” and I as listener was hooked. By the time Evan Dando (of the Lemonheads) sings “Frying Pan” I’ve decided I want to play guitar.  By the conclusion I’m looking for a bullhorn so I can tell any and everyone within earshot that they have to listen and buy this record. Williams’ songs are so detailed in character that songs feel like you’ve both read an exceptional short story and listened to a new musical experience. Despite the different styles of the various artists performing the songs, the original vision of the songwriter herself remains potent and shines through any genre leaping in the album itself.

If you don’t know the story, Williams star was on the rise when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Having been bogged down with debt from increasing medical bills a virtual who’s who of 90’s alt rock and beyond joined forces to help her and others out. The Sweet Relief Charity Fund was set up to help musicians in need of expensive health care.

More than 20 years have gone by and Pearl Jam is still playing their contribution “Crazy Mary” live, and my CD still has a home within twelve inches of the stereo. So, you can see my love for this record runs deep, and I want a vinyl copy… I just didn’t think that one actually existed. That is until the other day when I just started putting album titles into the discogs search engine and… oh my, it exists. But damn… only in European used stores that would raise the price with shipping to over a hundred bucks.

So, I hope that it gets re-issued on vinyl eventually or that the ghost of Ed McMahon shows up at my door with an oversized check.

Sweet Relief can still be purchased at your better record stores on CD and has two follow up LP’s.

Sweet Relief II: Gravity Of The Situation – The Songs Of Vic Chesnutt

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And

Sweet Relief III: Pennies From Heaven

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Check them out, give ‘em a listen, and maybe you’ll want to drop a few dollars to a worthy cause.

P.S. – Here’s a video of Victoria Williams covering the great Sam Cooke

 

Learn To Pull The Trigger or Matthew Sweet – 100% Fun

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A life time ago it seems I was getting the opportunity to interview some of my favorite artists for the now defunct id Magazine. In this case, it was the summer of 1995 and I was in my new overheated cheap rent apartment having just finished university. Sitting beside the phone random chords were filling the air as I strummed my guitar for no one but myself to hear. Once the phone did ring I was talking with Matthew Sweet for the better part of 30 minutes about his recently released album 100% Fun.

I wish I could reprint the article, or even remember the questions and answers, but it was a different time. While I have the interview on disc, it is one of those old 2.5 inch plastic jobs that haven’t been used in computers since before the turn of the century. The actual interview was recorded on a mini cassette, but I have no working player to even hear it with. So all I can tell you is this… he was super nice and patient with me when I asked him for the chords to the song “Someone To Pull The Trigger” from his previous record Altered Beast.

I hadn’t been playing guitar for all that long and I really wanted to learn how to play this song, but unlike the current version of the internet, you couldn’t just Google or YouTube to get answers – so I asked.

Remarkably, he laughed and started giving me the chords in enough detail to allow for a beginner, even giving me alternate and easier ways to play them. I’m guessing I thanked him for both the interview and the guitar lesson, but honestly, I don’t remember how things ended other than I was sweating in an overheated south facing shit-hole with a lovely view of the Humber River, trying to learn how to play a Matthew Sweet song that I really loved.

As the summer continued, “Sick Of Myself” was in heavy rotation at CFNY (the Edge) and I found myself turning off the radio when the song ended and picking up my guitar for another shot at figuring out my one and only guitar lesson. Unfortunately, I think I stopped trying when I finally attempted to add my own vocals and scared all the birds away from my balcony.

Anyway, 100% Fun is a classic power-pop record full of chiming guitar, powerful hooks and sing-a-long choruses that hide a wee bit of darkness and self loathing in the overall lyrical content. It is a record I keep coming back to year after year, and is one of my favorite albums to hear on those long drives. It is being re-issued later this month on 180 gram wax by Music On Vinyl over in Europe. I’m sure you can order it at your favorite local record retailer or online store.

Sweet is also working on a new record that will hopefully arrive at my door before the annual Christmas specials have me contemplating an apartment on the moon.

On The Subject of Bucket Lists and Bands #1 or Dressy Bessy – Holler & Stomp

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Sometimes you need a bit of candy to see you through the dark corners of life, and sometimes music itself needs to be lit up in bright colours if only to liven things up after a downpour; that’s when Dressy Bessy entered.

After the dreariness that was rock music in the early 90’s and the arrogance that was Brit-pop in the mid 90’s some kind of intelligent fun was needed. No one wanted a return to the days of hair-metal but what could fill the void?

Well the 90’s did provide us with some direction with power-pop bands like Shonen Knife, the 5,6,7,8’s, Matthew Sweet and The Posies, but another step was needed, and Dressy Bessy jumped right into my heart.

The dual guitar work of Tammy Ealom and John Hill provided promise to this music stalwart while Ealom’s delivery and lyrics had me dreaming of the sunnier side of things. Sure they sang songs of sunshine and their tones were 60’s surf/garage/Phil Spector poppy, but they just weren’t being over the top in their quest to relate. Instead it was sunny skies, sarcasm and observational humour used in a similar style to Cracker that had me fall for them. The only problem for me is that they never seem to make their way north to Toronto and they are pretty high on my bucket list of bands. Dressy Bessy just looks like they would be a whole lot of fun to see live.

Anyway, after my initial discovery of their music back in ’99 and then getting the old mail order CD’s from their various record companies and distributors over the years – I finally see the vinyl for Holler & Stomp.

It is gorgeous.

150 Gram Pink Splatter Vinyl

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It sounds absolutely fantastic; especially on a summer day with a margarita, a comfy chair and a nice bit of shade. Which is kinda the point when I listen to their music; it’s a cool escape.

You can order it here. You can also hear a great song from Holler & Stomp below… Enjoy Folks!

 

#1 in so many damn ways… Big Star – #1 Record

History is fluid and changes with interpretation and the times that follow. So, something that was once dismissed or missed can be re-examined and pulled into the light in a way that perhaps it wasn’t before. Such was, is and may forever be the story of how Big Star and their debut #1 Record are considered.

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It is one of the planets greatest rock ‘n’ roll records, and still almost no one beyond critics and hipsters has truly given it the time of day. Sure Rolling Stone has it in their 500 Greatest Records of All-Time, but that doesn’t really result in the kind of record sales and recognition that should be afforded this band.

Obviously, the information is out there, in different formats and many stories told; so I’m just going to point out a few in hopes that you see an opportunity to get yourself some great music.

First, if you have access to Netflix than you can catch the Big Star biography Nothing Can Hurt Me. It is a great examination into the history of Big Star, and also offers an awesome soundtrack of alternate takes from Big Star and their principle songwriters Chris Bell and Alex Chilton.

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Next there is a new biography on Alex Chilton named A Man Called Destruction. It is pretty eye opening and well worth the read.

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Finally, the one album I was here to tell you about on this day, #1 Record. While it would be easy for me to sit here heaping praise, it is easier to just point out its influence. Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub, The Posies, Lemonheads, Wilco and much of the 90’s alt rock pantheon were influenced by #1 Record.

Some of the songs you may recognize from are:

“In The Street” – It became the theme song to That 70’s Show.

“The Ballad of El Goodo” – Has been covered numerous times by acts such as Evan Dando, Mathew Sweet, Counting Crows, Zeus, Wellspring and Wilco.

“Thirteen” – Picked by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time, and I’ll just add, one of the most amazing songs ever.

Anyway, your opportunity is that as vinyl goes, there have been some recently released re-masters that are available. First a little company called 4 Men with Beards was given permission to re-release #1 Record on 180 gram black vinyl. I haven’t found an exact number printed, but it must be at least sizable enough to fill demand.

The second release is a little more exclusive, Newbury Comics with permission of Big Star’s record label Ardent have released 1000 copies of #1 Record on translucent gold vinyl. Trust me when I say, it is awesome!

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In fact, that is kind of my point; #1 Record is one of the greatest albums one can have in their collection. If I printed my version of the top 10 records of all time it would be among them. More importantly, if I was to take off my critic hat and just list my favourite 10 records, again it would sit amongst the top. In fact, it just might be a contender for number one.

How Superstitious Are You? Playlist April 5/15

  1. “Slipin’ & Slidin’” – Little Richard

I read somewhere once that Here’s Little Richard is one of the most ‘essential’ records of all time. After listening a few dozen times in recent weeks, I believe that I agree. There is currently a special limited edition of it at Newbury Comics.

  1. “Livin’ For The City” – The Dirtbombs

Love this record and love this band. I highly recommend you give them a listen. You can order stuff from here.

  1. “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder

After reviewing The Dirtbombs, I couldn’t resist playing something from the legend himself. Wish he hadn’t lost his political edge for a bunch of wedding played syrup, but still, when he was at his creative peak, he couldn’t be touched.

  1. “Your Touch” – The Black Keys

Earlier Black Keys, they just frickin’ rock – no matter what Mr. White has to say.

  1. “Hold On” – Alabama Shakes

Something about this band just leaves me wanting more; looking forward to getting the new stuff.

  1. “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs

A good Neil Young cover is always welcome around here. Besides it gives me another excuse to play something from those great cover albums by Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs.

  1. “Ballad of Big Nothing (Alternate Vocal)” – Elliot Smith

Another re-release from Newbury, … I love Smith’s music, I just wish it didn’t remind me of… well, less talk – more listen.

  1. “Punky’s Dilemma” – Simon & Garfunkel

Started writing a review that included a memory of this song; haven’t finished the review, but the song makes me smile all the same.

  1. “Blackbird” – Paul McCartney & Wings

Besides the recent re-master of Wings Over America, I actually have an old cassette copy I got back when I was about 15. Can’t believe this guy is still touring… can’t believe Kanye fans didn’t know who he was… actually…. I can believe that. Nevermind.

  1. “Magnet and Steel” – Walter Egan

Don’t own it on vinyl, but I really do love this song. For some reason I always thought this was a Buckingham – Nicks song and always pictured Lindsay & Stevie singing it together. For a billion years I’ve known the truth, but that image just never goes away.

  1. “Don’t Let Me Break Your Heart Again” – Turbo Fruits

Best Strokes sounding song not put out by the Strokes in a very long time; can’t wait to hear the whole record.

  1. “The Root” – Kim Deal & Morgan Nagler

Kim Deal is so frickin’ awesome it hurts. Don’t want to picture the Pixies without her – so I don’t. She has her own web store where she is selling her singles and posting videos. This video is pretty cool.

  1. “What Ever Happened?” – The Strokes

No, I’m not paid to promote Newbury! BUT – they do put out some cool collectible vinyl!

  1. “Disarm” – The Smashing Pumpkins

It is getting hard to find this edition of Siamese Dream that is 180 gram vinyl with a gatefold cover. Get it soon or wait for the next significant anniversary.

  1. “Positive Bleeding” – Urge Overkill

Yeah… I broke down and bought it! Probably use it as an example of how the poor exchange rate makes buying from south of the border a little on the expensive side.

  1. “Until The Sun Comes” – Rival Sons

Love this song, I’m just not sure about the band yet. I’ll let you know later.

  1. “If Only We Were Dogs” – Juliana Hatfield Three

Soon to be sold out from her web store, if you are thinking about it… you better get on it.

  1. “I Ain’t Superstitious” – The Jeff Beck Group

It just made it across the Atlantic, and it already seems hard to get. Good Luck!

  1. “Communication Breakdown” – Led Zeppelin

No problem finding this gem any and everywhere.

  1. “John, I’m Only Dancing (Sax Version, 2003)” – David Bowie

This record has become “My Precious” he says in his best Gollum voice. This is a great version of the classic “John, I’m Only Dancing.” Why do I love it so much – the answer is in the song.

Another Frickin’ Hospital Story… no, wait it’s The New Mendicants

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A lifetime ago I sat in a hospital bed and listened to the Pernice Brothers Over Come With Happiness. It was my introduction to all things Joe Pernice – Scud Mountain Boys, Chappaquiddick Skyline, and the already mentioned Pernice Brothers. Possessed with one of the most extraordinary voices since Matthew Sweet, he can move you into different emotional levels in just a few notes.

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Sitting on the table beside it was Songs From Northern Britain by one of my favorite bands, Teenage Fanclub. Of course Teenage Fanclub could boast having several great voices in the same band, but the one that always stood out to me was Norman Blake. “Can’t Feel My Soul” takes on a whole new meaning when the lights of your eyes flicker with the synergy created by multiple prescription pain killers.

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Of course, at that time I had no idea that both would end up living in my fair city and start creating music together. Talk about synergy, while both had been putting out really good records within the context of their own careers, the combination is stellar. Into the Lime is at times folksy, and others full of power pop bliss, yet overall it creates an atmosphere of perfect harmonized glory.

Sometimes it can be hard to find music that speaks not to the person you were in decades past, but the person in the now. The hardships of everyday living as a regular dept paying adult in relationships long past the honeymoon stage of life, but Pernice and Blake pull it off in dark heartbreaking details. Take “A Very Sorry Christmas” with lines like “I’ve hurt so many people along the way” and instead of going into Beatles-esqe sentimentality, crush you with “some are dead, and some they really hate me.” All the more fascinating is the fact that the music feels so damn light with subjects that are so damn heavy.

Finding this on vinyl is going to be a little work if that is your format. They only printed a 1000, and their website sold out… but if enough people ask, I’m sure they’ll re-print.

I’m just hoping this record will be followed by others, lots of others. This is a combination that works.

Playlist March 15/15

Here it is… A Playlist out on the Day I planned for…

Playlist #3 – March 15/15

Enjoy!

  1. “FOH” – Superchunk

I wrote about them and this song a couple weeks back. It’s the kind of tune that has such a good ‘riff’ that the lyrics cease to matter, which isn’t a bad thing considering it is a bit of an inside nod to music techs (roadies) and crews. Still, you just gotta love that fan made video.

  1. “Have Love Will Travel” – The Sonics

Was reading Paste (I think) a while back, and there was this playlist for the 50 Best Garage Rock Songs ever. This was the number one song on the list and they put forth a really damn good argument for this being the first punk band ever. Regardless, I’m looking to by this stuff on vinyl now.

  1. “Happy Ways” – Joe Walsh

While this song appears on a Joe Walsh record, it is actually the band Barnstorm and doesn’t feature Walsh on vocals at all. It also stands way outside his usual work in terms of song construction. Each piece of the band has stand out moments in this tune that was said to be influenced by music coming north from Mexico to California.  To my ears, this song stands out as rather timeless and I always imagine it being covered by an eight or ten piece band with horns.

  1. “Evangeline” – Matthew Sweet

Like everything on Girlfriend there is a sense of playful desperation hidden within this quest for love. Sweet’s characters never quite get it right, but remain optimistic somehow. Perhaps it is naivety that keeps things light, or just the nature of this record, but a couple decades after its release it still seems to hold its youthful soul.

  1. “Rhiannon” – Best Coast

Somehow Best Coast manages to sweep away the entire ethereal mystic evening nature of this song and turn it into a Sunday stroll on the beach. Weird thing is, it actually works. Rather than ‘Rhiannon drifting into the sunset, she seems to skip away to play in the waves. It’s a different interpretation unlike anything I would have expected. Very Cool!

  1. “Over at the Frankenstein Place” – Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick & Richard O’Brien

Despite being an important part of a large picture, I love this song as a standalone piece. It captures my imagination and just makes me all warm inside. Buy vinyl here.

  1. “Fade Into You” – J. Mascis

A most amazing cover of the Mazzy Star classic, it was the single that got away last Black Friday/Record Store Day.  Having never given up on it, it may make it into my collection at some point… soon.

  1. “Hannah & Gabi” – The Lemonheads

The first cover song I learned how to play on my beaten up old 12 string a few years back. Just a simple little song about loves lost and the confusion found as relationships end. Honest in that it really finds no resolution.

  1. “Brill Bruisers” – The New Pornographers

Saw these guys do a quick set down at Sugar Beach in September. They did an awesome cover of ELO’s “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” along with the title track from their amazing record Brill Bruisers.

  1. “California Sun” – The Ramones

What can I say, my kids were Watching Curious George (sequel) the other day and this song was a big part. Besides, I’ll use any excuse to include the Ramones on every mix I do.

  1. “Baby Six String” – Dressy Bessy

Dressy Bessy is on my bucket list of bands to see before I go the way of the Dodo. All it took was one listen to their debut Pink Hearts, Yellow Moons back in 1999 to make me a forever fan. “Baby Six String” is from their 2003 eponymous record, and rumour is, a new album and tour will be happening soon. Check them out.

  1. “The Root” – Kim Deal, Morgan Nagler

Something about Kim Deal has always screamed “coolest person on the planet” to me. Doesn’t matter if it’s the Pixies, the Breeders or her solo stuff, there is always an element of some twisted riff that makes you want to pogo all over the dance floor. Love that she’s selling vinyl singles from her own web site.

  1. “Hailing A Cab In Hell” – Viva Viva

Couldn’t resist putting these guys on after Kim Deal… I mean come on, they have an ep called What’s The Kim Deal?, how could I resist? Besides, they’re heavy garage ‘riff-age’ gets me throwing my hair around every time.

  1. “Whenever You See Me” – Kitty, Daisy & Lewis

When three young brits sound both out of time and modern at the same time, you have a pretty awesome combination. Style jumping and instrument swapping can make them a little hard to pin down, but it sure is fun to try.

  1. “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky” – Johnny Cash

My dad and I didn’t agree on much… pretty much nothing… except that Johnny Cash was frickin fantastic.

  1. “10 Million” – Gina Villalobos

Another artist on my bucket list, I became a fan the first time I heard her play this song. Ever since I’ve been ordering stuff direct from her sight – here.

  1. “I’d Run Away” – The Jayhawks

‘Alt-country’ before the term went both in and out of style, this song is from their best album Tomorrow The Green Grass. Oddly they were Minneapolis peers of Husker Du, Soul Asylum and the Replacements.

  1. “Skyway” – The Replacements

Just a beautiful song for a cloudy day, by a band that helped create the whole ‘alt-rock’ movement of the 90’s. Legendary!

  1. “Committed” – Jenny & Jonny

A fun album of duets by the boyfriend/girlfriend combo… it doesn’t feel like duets at all, but rather a bunch of great songs with two individual vocalists having a great time doing harmony together.

  1. “Thorn In Her Pride” – King Khan and the Shrines

As far as I’m concerned, this would be the band I’d want to play at a very large party. They rock, they swing, and they make you want to dance.