Tuesday, January 29, 2008

STUPID (not quite a Dylan song) ANNE MCCUE


With a bit of a Byrds jangle, Anne McCue, Australia's answer to Lucinda Williams, comes up with a smart piece of writing called "Stupid."
The more you listen to Anne's song, the more clever it becomes. She can easily reference Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, but this comes out of knowledge and respect for their work, not desperate name-dropping.
"Leonard said there are no institutions. There's nothing to believe in anymore. The time of the flood is almost here. The end of the world is drawing near..."

But that's no reason to do something stupid. The song is about not giving up on life...which is remarkable coming from a woman who fills up her albums with some pretty grim and dark songs. Yes, singing about drunks ("Jesus' Blood") disaster ("Any Minute Now") and feeling like a "$50 Whore" all suggest that fans of Cohen and Dylan might do well to add McCue to their eMusic queue.
"I suffered your shit and shoveled your debris," she sings to the guy who nearly drove her to suicide. But really, why kill yourself over some guy? Or some guy at 11pm giving you bad news? He's not a prophet, and "no man-made God" should lead anyone to a premature and fatal decision. If Anne can manage the trick of being depressing and uplifting at the same time, then there are indeed wonders to ponder every day.
On this track she warns, "I'm gonna write a Bob Dylan song..." Well, why not, she upped the ante on her pal Lucinda already, and some of her stuff is more than good enough to be covered by Bob or Leonard on a lonely afternoon.
STUPID Instant download or listen on line.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I HEAR DEAD PEOPLE (the cold 45, part one)

A whole lotta dyin' went on in 2007, and in the music world, the biggest death (literally) was the end of Luciano Pavarotti. The saddest death was probably Brad Delp of the group Boston, who left behind a suicide note declaring he was a "lonely soul." Other suicides were U-Nee and opera star Jerry Hadley. While ill singers Lee Hazlewood and George Melly had a lot of time to prepare for death, the usual number of rappers got a bullet without ever getting to Number One. Many musicians gamely stayed in the game as long as possible despite health setbacks, including Michael Brecker, Fred Chichin of Les Rita Mitsuoko and Don Ho.
Restricting this memorial to a pair of Rapidshare limited-size downloads and the magic number 45, a few of your favorites may not be heard here, but at least they can be seen in the next paragraph. Unlisteds whose number came up this year, and un-persons as far as being included in the downloads go:

Lydia Mendoza (career stretching back to the 30's), Damien Morris (vocalist for death metal band The Red Shore), death metal drummers Bud Mills and Witold Kieltyka, Marvin Smith (half of The Checkmates), jazz sax player Frank Morgan, jazz saz player Cecil Payne, blues guitarist Philadelphia Jerry Ricks, conga drummer Carlos Valdes, Erich Von Schmidt (obscure folkie and Dylan influence, who spent the last 3 decades of his life working as a respected artist), Casey Calvert (guitarist in Hawthorne Heights), opera singers Andrew Foldi and Frank Guarrera, Alice Coltrane, classical flute player Masakuzu Yoshizawa, reggae star Lucky Dube, rapper "Big Moe" Moore, Pete Kleinow (of the Flying Buritto Brothers), Miyoshi Umecki (who recorded an album of standards as well as a single with Red Buttons), jazz drummers Max Roach and Bob Rosengarden, and Zayda Pena (of Zayda y los Culpables). She was shot in the heart a few days after being hospitalized for a gunshot wound to the neck...her death sparking publicity about the world of drug trafficking and Mexican border violence, and the music chronicling this dangerous lifestyle.

Three singers who played it for laughs are now silent. Jim Nesbitt was the country singer best known for his "Running Bare" parody and Alice Ghostley recorded some novelty songs in her cabaret days, and was in the musicals "Grease" and "Cinderella." Lastly, a lovely lady I had the good fortune to speak with, the legendary Ruth Wallis. Perhaps Ruth will get a write-up of her own on this blog eventually. Her sexy comedy songs now seem very tame, but in her hot heyday, they were literally banned. Unlike so many singers in that genre, Ruth had real talent and lilt...and could've done well with any kind of song, risque or not.

The heavenly stars on the first download:
LA TRAVIATA (Beverly Sills)
MORE THAN A FEELING (Brad Delp; Boston)
IF EVER I WOULD LEAVE YOU (Robert Goulet)
MUCH TOO YOUNG TO DIE (Merv Griffin)
SPOOKY, SPOOKY (Walker Edmiston as Dracula, with Linda Strangis)
O HOLY NIGHT (Luciano Pavarotti)
TIL I WALTZ AGAIN WITH YOU (Teresa Brewer)
BUT NOT FOR ME (Yvonne DeCarlo)
CHILDREN OF THE SUN (Billy Thorpe)
COME AND GET IT, HONEY (Nellie Lutcher)
I CAN SING A RAINBOW (Billy Henderson of The Spinners)
IN THE NIGHT (Dakota Staton)
YOU'VE LOST THAT LOVING FEELING (Barbara McNair)
ALL THE BLUES ALL THE TIME (Ike Turner)
SWAMP GIRL (Frankie Laine)
NOW (Kitty Carlisle)
GRAND HOTEL (Jerry Hadley)
GIGUE by Bach (Mstislav Rostropovich)
ELECTRIC CHAIR (George Melly)
UNCHAINED MELODY (Les Baxter for lyricist Hy Zaret)
SHOCK THE MONKEY (Don Ho)
MONSTER SLASH (Bobby "Boris" Pickett)
FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE (Vonda Shepard for lyricist Ron Miller)

I HEAR DEAD PEOPLE PART ONE November 2011 update...the Rapidshare link died, but it's back via the BOX!

I HEAR DEAD PEOPLE (the cold 45, part two)

If any of the 45 deceased performers on the download are unfamiliar to you, just Google 'em, if their death knell didn't ring a bell. There's no space here to give each artist a real tribute. The list is mostly loaded with fairly famous names, but there are salutes to songwriters, too, including Ron Miller and Hy Zaret. If you have an inquiring Google-mind, you'll find some site where you'll see that 92 year-old Ray Evans was the lyricist on not just "Que Sera Sera" but the oft-heard "Mr Ed" theme and the almost never-heard "Bonanza" theme, and many more.

The most obscure singer among the 45 performers you'll hear if you download both parts of the 2007 death roll, is Walker Edmiston. He was an accomplished actor and a specialist in voiceovers and cartoon voices, but he made very few novelty records. He was the lead on a Gunsmoke parody called 'Mr. Grillon" (attributed to the Archibald Players when first released, then the George Garabedian Players on re-release) and a weird cold-war obscurity, "I Dreamt I Saw Khrushchev (in a Pink Cadillac)," which is part of the very expensive Bear Family "Atomic Platters" boxed set. Here, he turns up as Dracula in a bloody cut from one of the lesser known Spike Jones albums.

I'll leave you to your research, and use this remaining space to salute some of the non-musical celebrities of 2007 who were particularly important (to me). Kurt Vonnegut (who did record a few calypsos) and Norman Mailer (available on spoken word albums) were, of course, two of the 20th Century's great literary names, and I treasure the unique autographed items I have from them, and their kindness. Jocular Tom Snyder swooped the planet, and as flawed as he was, he left a legacy that is a lot more impressive than what's followed in his time-slot in the past decade. I will most certainly miss the gentle Tom Poston, who was a warm and funny guy off-screen as well as on.

While meeting celebrities is a thrill, and spending time with them informally is even a greater privilege, not all of these encounters are vivid or memorable. But I do remember in great detail, two very different people who gave the world laughter, and who passed on in very different ways. The master, Marcel Marceau, lived to a solid old age, so all those stupid "moment of silence" jokes weren't that hard to take. Today, a "mime" is a deserved subject of derision,because few of them follow the tradition or have a tenth of the skill of the master. I saw M-M perform many times, and he was an artist. As for Richard Jeni, perhaps his demise will serve as a warning to the family or friends of someone battling depression, someone lost in the maze of prescription medications that often do more harm than good. Richard was one of the masters of stand-up, greatly under-appreciated in his lifetime, but anyone who spent any time with him can attest to a personality both magnetic and unforgettable.

The heavenly songs and stars on the second download:
A HUNDRED DOLLAR FUNERAL (Porter Wagoner)
CACKLIN' SAX (Boots Randolph)
BLUE ETUDE (Written and Performed by Oscar Peterson)
COLD COLD CHEATIN' HEART (Joey Bishop)
COME ON FEEL THE NOIZE (Kevin DuBrow of Quiet Riot)
IF LOVING YOU IS WRONG (Luther Ingram)
GIRL ON THE BILLBOARD (Del Reeves)
LES HISTOIRES D' AMOUR (Fred Chichin of Les Rita Mitsoukos)
THE MEAN TIME (Michael Brecker)
SAME OLD LANG SYNE (Dan Fogelberg)
THE IRISH ROVER (Tommy Makem)
THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKIN' (Lee Hazlewood)
THE WILD SIDE OF LIFE (Hank Thompson)
DON'T CRY AGAIN (U-Nee)
I DONT HURT ANYMORE (Janis Martin)
HE'S MINE (Zola Taylor of The Platters)
GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART (Pookie Hudson of the Spaniels)
I SAW HER AGAIN LAST NIGHT (Co-written by Denny Doherty)
SUNSET SEE MY SADNESS (Hank Medress of The Tokens)
THE CIVIL DEFENSE SIGN (Mark Spoelstra)
IT'S OH SO QUIET (BLOW A FUSE) (Betty Hutton)
QUE SERA SERA (Sly Stone, for lyricist Ray Evans)
I HEAR DEAD PEOPLE, PART TWO (Update Nov 2011, the link won't stay dead! Re-upped after the original Rapidshare one expired)