Dec 24, 2012

Muddy Waters - Tiger In Your Tank (Live 1968 Copenhagen)

Also from the same show... "One of these days I'll show you how nice a man can be"...

Muddy Waters - Long Distance Call (1968)

Dec 23, 2012

ZZ Top - Tube Snake Boogie (Live 1980)

I've been on some massive ZZ Top craze lately, and in particular this record from '81, El Loco. The studio version of Tube Snake Boogie kicks it off but the track below follows it up and has some wild hypnotizing guitar work from Billy Gibbons. I'm listening to this non-stop right now.

ZZ Top - I Wanna Drive You Home (1981)

Dec 22, 2012

Buddy Holly - Wishing (1959)

Two from the master of the form. Honestly, my favourite singer of all-time.

Buddy Holly - True Love Ways (1958)

Have you ever heard that strange story told by Bob Dylan about Buddy? He saw Holly in Duluth, Minnesota at the Armory a few days before the plane crash and Dylan claims Buddy looked right at him and had a strange look in his eye. Dylan was only 16 or so at the time. In his speech after accepting a Grammy award in 1998, he said “When I was 16 or 17, I went to see Buddy Holly play and I was three feet away from him… and he LOOKED at me…"

Here's Dylan on Buddy in 1997 during the recording of Time Out Of Mind:

"While we were recording, every place I turned there was Buddy Holly. You know what I mean? It was one of those things. Every place you turned. You walked down a hallway and you heard Buddy Holly records like 'That'll Be the Day.' Then you'd get in the car to go over to the studio and 'Rave On' would be playing. Then you'd walk into this studio and someone's playing a cassette of 'It's So Easy.' And this would happen day after day after day. Phrases of Buddy Holly songs would just come out of nowhere. It was spooky."

Here's what I think is the best song from that record... one of the greatest songs he ever wrote.

"Well, I’ve been to London and I’ve been to gay Paree
I’ve followed the river and I got to the sea
I’ve been down on the bottom of a world full of lies
I ain’t looking for nothing in anyone’s eyes
Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there"

Bob Dylan - Not Dark Yet (1997)

Dec 21, 2012

Tony Alvon & The Belairs – Sexy Coffee Pot (1969)

Here’s a rare piece of instrumental funk from this short-lived group out of Philadelphia. They only put out 3 singles for Atlantic Records, this being the second one, but those discs are highly sought after nowadays. Lots of great funk out of Philly at this time but this may be one of the best.

Not sure what that title means but I can tell you a little story of my own.

I think I was around 13 or 14 when I tried to have my first cup of coffee. There was a jar of the instant stuff sitting in my parent’s cupboard for years and nobody ever touched it. My Mom and Dad never drank coffee as far as I knew. My Dad only drank beer - even in the mornings. Coffee was some kind of thing my teachers drank and it was as foreign to me as champagne or Sophia Loren.

I thought I’d give it a shot and boiled a kettle on the stove, following the instructions right down to the teaspoon. I didn’t know you could put cream or milk in it or even sugar. I thought instant coffee had whatever you needed right in that jar.

I put the boiling water in, stirred it up and started walking back to the living room with my cup filled right to the brim. I was being careful as I walked, but our living room was sort of sunken – you had to go down two steps from the kitchen. I hit that first step down and a little bit of coffee spilled over onto my hand. It was so hot that I winced, which brought more coffee over my hand and that made me panic a bit and I just let go of that cup.

Goddamn, wouldn’t you know all that coffee landed right on my balls. I started screaming and kept trying to pull my jeans away from my skin but it felt like I was burning alive. My little sisters just sat on the couch staring at me as I danced around like a man on fire. My old man came barrelling down the hallway in his underwear expecting to find some intruder attacking his family.

I remember running to my room, pulling off all my clothes and just staring at my balls for close to half an hour, wondering if they were going to fall off. Anyways, they didn’t, although I walked kinda funny for about a week after that and stayed away from coffee until I was in my thirties.

But I swear when I pour a cup at work in the morning, I can feel everything down there tighten up just a little.

Speakin' of tightening up...

Archie Bell & The Drells - Tighten up (1968)

The Untouchables - Tighten Up (1968)

The Box Tops (ft/ Alex Chilton) - You Keep Tightening Up On Me (1970)

Clifton Chenier - Tighten-Up Zydeco (1971)

Dec 8, 2012

Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin' (Live 2010 at The White House)

This was performed in front of Barack Obama during a celebration of the civil rights movement at The White House.

When I first saw this clip I was drunk as a son-of-a-bitch but felt sober and clear-minded about one verse into it. I've heard the 1964 version as many times as a lullaby and couldn't even imagine what it would sound like in 2010. I didn't even want to watch it.

Clearly it's more weary and creased now, sadder (but in no ways bitter, which is an important distinction). It's still raw and strange, almost as alien to middle-class people as it was when it first came out. Nothing has changed and everything has changed.

Dylan's savaged voice turns this into some kind of movie, like Once Upon A Time In America... where you hear him simultaneously in 1964 and 2010 and feel that distance, and everything that means along the way.

This is what Obama had to say about it:

"Here’s what I love about Dylan: He was exactly as you’d expect he would be. He wouldn’t come to the rehearsal; usually, all these guys are practicing before the set in the evening. He didn’t want to take a picture with me; usually all the talent is dying to take a picture with me and Michelle before the show, but he didn’t show up to that. He came in and played “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” A beautiful rendition. The guy is so steeped in this stuff that he can just come up with some new arrangement, and the song sounds completely different. Finishes the song, steps off the stage… comes up, shakes my hand, sort of tips his head, gives me just a little grin, and then leaves… That was our only interaction with him. And I thought: That’s how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don’t want him to be all cheesin’ and grinnin’ with you. You want him to be a little skeptical about the whole enterprise."

Do Right Woman, Do Right Man - Two Sides

Aretha Franklin - Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (1967)

Two versions of the classic written by Chips Moman and Dan Penn. This was a modest hit for Aretha but it's rightly grown over time into one of her best remembered songs.

When Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers covered it only two years later, it became a sort of majestic country waltz and didn't suffer a bit. To me, Gram's vocals are just as heartbreaking as Aretha's on this one, especially with Chris Hillman's backing harmonies and that strange pedal steel playing by Sneaky Pete Kleinow which always seemed to keep the Burrito Brothers glued together even when they were too drunk to play. The Nashville studios probably didn't like Kleinow's style but it always worked perfectly behind Gram.

The Flying Burrito Brothers - Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (1969)

Dec 7, 2012

Peanuts Wilson - Cast Iron Arm (1957)

They called him Peanuts because of his size, but he seemed to compensate pretty well by releasing one of the toughest tracks of that year, although the old man who sporadically pops up in the song to mutter a one-liner makes this kinda goofy in the end.

Peanuts played with Roy Orbison in the Teen Kings for a while and recorded with Roy at Sun Studios. He made this record with Buddy Holly's producer/manager Norman Petty in New Mexico.

You can imagine this song blaring out of a car radio while a couple of tough kids lean against the side doors, running out of cigarettes and looking for something to do that night.

Dec 1, 2012

Bob Dylan - I'll Remember You (Live At Farm Aid 1985)

Backed here by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, this is some of the better 80's Dylan you'll find. He flamed out at the earlier Live Aid concert organized by Bob Geldof but he seems completely focused and strong here.

You might remember that during Live Aid, Dylan kinda shrugged in his own strange way and said this: "I hope that some of the money … maybe they can just take a little bit of it, maybe one or two million, and use it to pay the mortgages on some of the farms and the farmers here, and what they owe to the banks…"

Willie Nelson heard that and decided Bob had a point. Willie and Neil Young put together the first Farm Aid concert later that fall and invited Bob to play. Good call, Willie. One of Bob's better songs of the decade.

The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton - Champagne And Reefer (London, Nov. 29, 2012)

Muddy Waters cover. Guitar solo overload, but I'm liking that kind of thing more as I get older. Who gives a shit. Play the goddamn thing. Clapton looks like he's still 45. Mick and Ronnie are lean. Keith clearly has his chops back. It's a hell of a good time to be a Stones fan.

Nico - The Fairest Of The Seasons (1967)