Monday, August 29, 2005
Memphis soul today. Played loud by some white guys. But it's, like, soul baby.
The Oblivians lasted for a relatively short time. Greg, Eric, and Jack Oblivian went on to produce, play on, or star in about a zillion other projects: Compulsive Gamblers, Reigning Sound, '68 Comeback, the Deadly Snakes, The Cool Jerks, to name just a few.
Not to confuse, The Oblivians certainly have the snot and grind of garage/punk in their attack. But firmly embedded in their heart of hearts lies the last great soul band. Sin and Salvation battle with a hipsway under distorted soul grooves, while the alternating vocalists growl to yelp, pleading and fronting for your love, honey.
Nowhere is this more evident than on their finest album, Play 9 Songs With Mr. Quintron. (Quintron deserves his own damn post one of these days.) About a year ago, I posted my favorite song from that album, a pleading church hymn from hell called "Live the Life". So here's another from that album, a locomotive gospel, plus, from Popular Favorites, a song not remotely about sex. Shake it.
The Oblivians: Ride That Train (mp3)
The Oblivians: Do the Milkshake (mp3)
The Oblivians probably don't give a rat's ass where you buy their albums.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
At first scroll this may not seem like the typical post here at the Mountain. Yeah, that's who you think it is down there. But trust me. Have I ever steered you wrong? (I have? Oh. Sorry.)
See, the thing is, I'm real big on road trips. Particularly the ones with no destination. Ones taking place in the deepest hours of the morning. In Autumn. The lore and mythology of the traveler and the hobo, I guess. Static on the radio. Or Elvis. In deserts. Or following a train.
The KLF are probably known as much for their hucksterism ("burning" a million dollars/pounds) as their music (Justified and Ancient, Doctorin' the Tardis, etc.). Truth is I've never much followed the group's antics or musical adventures. But back in the mid-90's a friend, trying to convince me that "electronica" (we called it techno when I was growing up) was the (new)wave of the future, would make me slews of ambient mix tapes. Nothing really convinced much, until I got a tape that featured the following KLF song.
On the album "Chill Out", the group strung together a host of found sounds (birds 'n' trains 'n' things), layered them together with minimal, minor-key synthesizers, a female chorus, and, most importantly, steel guitar. A road trip (choose yr trip) album.
This is the song I heard on the mix tape. It's actually the perfect song for us up here on the Mountain. The clack of the trains provides the rhythm, a gorgeous steel guitar keens sadly and slowly. And then,channeled through the static of AM, fading in and out like a lost transmission, is Elvis Presley all sadness and hurt. The barest of desert pieces, not intended for listening when the sun is out. The sound of a lost America.
The KLF: Elvis on the Radio, Steel Guitar in My Soul (mp3)
Continuing in a similar vein/theme is Clothesline Revival. Taking field recordings from, among other sources, Alan Lomax, adding beats and harmonica, steel guitar(again) and banjos, they create a modern folk album for the alt-jaded. The following features more clattering locomotion and an unidentified train caller from the '30's. It's more of the missing America, lost and wandering, where, and I paraphrase loosely here, a train can take you away from here, but a train won't bring you home.
Clothesline Revival: Calling Trains (mp3)
Return to the RAWK on Friday. Buy your train tickets from your local travel agent. Or, hell, if you can't afford it, hop a ride in the boxcar.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Hey, look. More truckin' music at the Mountain. For your weekend enjoyment.
This is actually supposed to be a post about Junior Brown, as I've covered Red Simpson already. At some point. I think. It's been one of those days.
So Junior Brown, then.
Brown comes pretty damn close to being a novelty item in most folks' record collections. He notes in his website that people who don't like country (and western) tell him they like his stuff. Not sure why. He's pretty damn country. Maybe they're still stuck on the idea that Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt or similar hat singers are actually country (and maybe they are. Why not, I guess.). Junior's pretty quirky, and some purists have decried him for a lack of authenticity. If you've read here for awhile, y'all know I get a little tetchy about throwing the "authenticity" tag around. It's a stupid label.
What we do know about Brown is that he's a fuckfantastic guitar player, particularly his steel work. I believe he refers to his instrument (which he designed himself) as a "guit-steel". Pretty self-explanatory, that.
We also know that his voice is deeper than Death Valley, all Texas twang and bottomed out rye whiskey, but always, always tuneful and in tune. He's got Roger Miller's style and Hank Snow's groove. And Hank Thompson's way with words. But really, the artist closest to Junior Brown is Junior Brown. In a ten gallon hat.
Brown's vocal and guitar style lend themselves most perfectly to Texas hot rods and long journeys in a big ole truck. It's music that moves. Man.
Both of these songs are duets with the legendary Red Simpson. In the way the two songs on the last post started the same, these two end the same, with Red and Junior jawing with each other, taking off from the classic "Where's the Truck".
Lord love a truck.
Junior Brown and Red Simpson: Semi-Crazy (mp3)
Junior Brown and Red Simpson: Nitro Express (mp3)
Shop independently, 'n all that.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
We love the organ here at the Mountain. From Shirley Scott and Jimmy Smith to Booker T and, yes, Tom Waits, and all points musical inbetween and outside. It's greasy and nasty, smooth and soulful, sexy and spiritual. Any kid in their garage or bedroom (see: 60's, rock) can transform themselves into a god of groove with but a few simple chords. Ok, it aint quite that easy, but it all depends on what you want to use your organ for.
Regardless, this really isn't a post about the organ. Except that the organ is featured on both of the following tunes. And both tunes are rockin' little garagegroove songs by girl groups. And I've been looking for an excuse to post both these songs, and that seemed to tie it all together. Bit of stretch, huh? Yeah, I thought so.
I like girls who play with their organs. Sue me.
Frankly, I didn't know much about The Heart Beats. Still don't really, outside of the afore-linked website. The song appears (for my purposes here) on Sundazed's fantastic series of discs, Garage Beat '66. Apparently The Heart Beats were a sort of more talented Shaggs (kitsch/hipster factor aside, how often do you really feel the need to listen to the Shaggs?), at least in terms of age and stage-parent factor. The main difference is that not only could the girls actually play their instruments, they had some crazy rhythm in their...erm...organs. The following tune has skyrocketed to the top spot in my various media playing devices. It's got a tribal beat, sweet as sexpot honey vocals, and is drenched in a rhythmic organ grind guaranteed to please the stodgiest of Stereolab fans. Man, I wish I was Lupe Lu.
The Heart Beats: Little Latin Lupe Lu (mp3)
Then, of course, there's Thee Headcoatees. Originally known as the female version of, surprise, Thee Headcoats , the band featured a young lady by the name of Holly Golightly, whom y'all are probably aware of by now. While Golightly has mellowed some in recent years, Thee Headcoatees are classic beat trash, in the Childish tradition. This is an oft-covered cover (and I'll be damned if I know who did the original), and it's based on (or rather a response to) another multi-covered classic. Guess which one. Oh, yeah, it features an organ amongst the clatter. I think I wish I was Melvin, too.
Thee Headcoatees: Melvin (mp3)
Support your local Organ Grinder.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Lest anyone be concerned, the Mountain has only given up one vice, not the complete package of sinful behaviours. We still appreciate a nice pint or six now and again, particularly tunes detailing said activity. Thanks to all those leaving comments and emails of encouragement and support. Things are going swell to date. Pretzel rods are very tasty things.
Before we get to today's musical tales of booze and sin, check out the swell site, Hickory Wind. From their website:
"HickoryWind.org is all about Americana music -- that twangy, rootsy, rocky, folky, country, grassy, jammy, or Celtic-y music we love. We want everyone to love this music, and we're here to help share it with the world. Pull up a chair and grab your guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, or whatever. We'll always be sure to tell you what key we're in and how the words go. On this front porch, even the audience sings along.
That sums it up pretty well. The proprietors/contributors are based in Raleigh, DC, and Tokyo, respecitvely. Great articles, with a few fascinating tales of obsession. (Check out the Ryan Adams post).
Been a while since I had a proper booze post. Nobody, I mean nobody, does drinking songs better than our friends in the Country and Western tradition.
Tommy Duncan was the featured vocalist for Bob Wills' classic Texas Playboys period. Eventually leaving the Playboys for a solo career (before rejoining and quitting several times again), he never had quite the same success alone as he had in a group setting. Which is a shame. As the voice behind such classics as "Time Changes Everything," "Stay a Little Longer," "Take Me Back to Tulsa," and "Bubbles in My Beer," Duncan represents the sound of Western Swing at it's most timeless and classic. The following tune has actually happened to me. More than once. Dammit.
Tommy Duncan: Who Drank My Beer(While I Was in the Rear) (mp3)
Moon Mullican is referred to by many as the King of the Hillbilly Piano Players. Maybe so. As an influence, you can hear his style in blues, swing, and rock, particularly Jerry Lee Lewis. A bit of a character, Mullican never achieved the fame he was probably due. Here's Mullican lending his distinctive style to the Sunshine Boys.
If ya can't smoke, ya might as well get a little tight, I say.
Sunshine Boys: Gonna Get Tight (mp3)
Local taverns have better jukeboxes.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
As you might guess, today's theme is smoking songs. Why, you ask? Well, today is day one in the adventure we like to call "quitting smoking". Yup, the Mountain's giving up the nicotine. 20 years is a long time to just chuck in the wastebin, so we'll see how I do. By all accounts I'll be crankier than usual (if that's possible)(and you've been warned), and I'll probably gain about 60 pounds or so. No patch or nicorette gum, just a year's supply of straws, suckers, and pure cussedness. Boy howdy, this is gonna be fun.
For your aural enjoyment, then, we'll start with a classic Tex Williams side:
Tex Williams and His Western Caravan: Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) (mp3)
Then we'll get one of my fave rave fellas, Johnny Bond, to swing and pick through his version:
Johnny Bond: Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) (mp3)
Even though she's not what one would call "regular fare" here at the Mountain, I've always been kinda keen on Miss Peggy Lee:
Peggy Lee: Don't Smoke In Bed (mp3)
Nick Drake may not be talking about cigarettes. I dunno:
Nick Drake: Been Smoking Too Long (mp3)
And, finally, from the man who informed us that we, indeed, can't rollerskate in a buffalo herd, another piece of sage advice courtesy of the mighty Roger Miller:
Roger Miller: Dad Blame Anything a Man Can't Quit (mp3)
No smokes = more dough to spend at the local independent rekkid store. Or, that's the idea, anyway.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
And...I'm back. Slightly sore from eternal drives through Nebraska and Iowa (and the beginning part of Colorado aint exactly big'n'beautiful mountains, either), but alive and wellish. A good time had by all, etc.
One of my favorite things about road trips is truck stops. As a microcosm of America, you really can't do much better. The best part, though, is all the fun, useless stuff you can buy. While I skipped the "Ban Sodomy Now" t-shirts, and the "Greatest Patriotic Songs As Sung by The Maple Valley American Singers" cd, I managed to find a swell little "don't tread on me" lighter and, my favorite, a Kum'n'Go baseball hat. Neat.
The most important part of truck stops, though, is (or was) all the great music you could buy. Y'all mostly know my love of truckin' songs, and there was a time when yr local truck stop was filled to the brim with various truckin' tapes or cd's. Well, no longer, it seems. Replaced by Gretchen Redneck, Trace Adkins, Tall and Wealthy, and the like. Very disappointing.
Luckily, all was not lost, and a few stops yielded some musical goodness, keeping my faith in the American heartland hanging on. So, a travelogue of tunes purchased on the road that kept my bloodshot eyes focused through corn, corn, corn.
My favorite purchase, a Groucho Marx collection of odds and sods....some of the usual suspects, plus stuff I've never heard before.
Groucho Marx: Go West Young Man (mp3)
Most folks know at least 2 songs by Johnny Horton: "The Battle of New Orleans" and "North to Alaska". Stone cold classics, both of 'em. From the 10-song The History of Johnny Horton, picked up somewhere between Lincoln and the Colorado border, Horton's take on another classic:
Johnny Horton: Sleepy-Eyed John (mp3)
And, finally, thanks to Sterling, Colorado for finally giving me the gear-jammin' fix I so desperately needed. Jerry Reed's written plenty of truckin' songs, and this fine piece of diesel smoke comes from the masterpiece of cinema, Smokey and the Bandit:
Jerry Reed: East Bound and Down (mp3)
Support yr local truck stop. Keep travel alive.