Ronstadt Round-Up

Linda Ronstadt, as much as Janis Joplin, paved the way for females who rock – not that Aretha didn’t pave the way too but soul is very different genre. In my collection I have as mp3 Stone Poneys – Evergreen Vol.2 (1967), Different Drum (Michael Nesmith) Stone Poneys III (1968), art folk. Solo: Silk Purse(1970) country, Linda Ronstadt (1972)   country rock – I Fall To Pieces;  Don’t Cry Now (1974) Desperado – producer Peter Asher; Heart Like a Wheel (1974) Asher You’re No Good; Prisoner in Disguise (1975) Tracks Of My Tears; Hasten Down The Wind (1976) ‘That’ll Be The Day’; Living in the USA (1978): Alison; Mad Love (1980)

The early Stone Poneys are adventurous, the sound is interesting & the material is smart. The band resented that she wanted to the call the shots & so it broke up. I love Hobo on III. Her solo career started off a little unsure as she explored country, country-rock & her voice in incredible but often the material & production reined her in – she did work with studio musicians who became the Eagles. 

But when Peter Asher took over the production her career soared. With songwriters like JD Southern, Jackson Brown, Laura Nyro, The McGarrigle Sisters & even Elvis Costello – she was amazing. I particularly loved ‘I drove past your house lates last night just to see if you were there’ Perhaps the bursty song about stalking & romantic obsessions I can think of. Her work with Nelson Riddle bored me – the songs were too tidy for me. Her Spanish language work is sublime but also was too smooth for me.

I added some other prime female vocalists to the mp3 CD. Smith: A Group Called Smith (1969) lead singer Gayle McCormick sings the shit out of Baby, It’s You. The group fell apart, she did a few solo lps but never really hit the charts again. Here too is Grace Slick’a Dreams (1980) – an unexceptional lp by one of the most exceptional pop voices ever.

The first Pretenders: The Pretenders (1979): with Tattooed Love Boys. This is a stunning lp of powerful raw songs & Chrissie is amazing, as she is on every Pretenders lp. What can one say about Marianne Faithful? Here is Broken English (1979), a remorselessly angry lp with eviscerating songs that quickly reestablished her as a major voice not merely some quiet nostalgia act. 20th Century Blues (1996) is a fine set of ‘cabaret’ & rock with songs by Brecht etc. 

Finally – a couple of more ‘modern’ singers: Grace Jones: Nightclubbing (1981): featuring Walking In The Rain – this was Grace’s step out of disco into alternative. Iconic songs, great engineering & a classic. After the end of the electrodance group Yaz, Alison Moyet launched her solo career with  Alf (1984) a set of sometimes over-dramatic songs that clearly opened the door for Adele. I love this lp.

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Jefferson Airplane

Next on the shelf is Jefferson Airplane. I have as stand-alone or in mp3 collections: Takes Off, Surrealistic Pillow, Feed Your Head Live 67-69, Bless Its Pointed Little Head Live 1968, After Bathing At Baxter’s, Crown of Creation, Live at The Filmore East 1968, Volunteers, Blows Against the Empire, Bark, Long John Silver, Red Octopus, 2400 Fulton St, Spitfire, Earth, Reunion.

I can remember the thrill of hearing Grace Slick sing Somebody To Love, then Greasy Heart. I loved the Airplane & the journey of their first releases that went from folks, to counterculture icons – from Surrealistic Pillow to Blows Against the Empire. I couldn’t wait for where each new album would take me. Then they lost focus, thanks to drugs & booze released wildly uneven lps like Bark & Long John Silver. A sort of return to form on Red Octopus, Spitfire, Earth – but lost their edge & became a fine pop group. When corporate rock I lost interest. Members left, new ones joined. Finally an original members reunion 1989 that I do enjoy.

Those early albums are the epitome of late 60’s summer of psychedelic love vibe. Baxter with its amazing engineering, harmonies, guitar work & awesome songs is a classic. Volunteers – ‘up against the walls mother fuckers’ blew my mind. Blows Against The Empire with its scifi underpinning stunned me with where rock could go. 

The live albums are amazing, even when the sound is a little muddy. Feed Your head is a collection of rarities & oddities. 2400 is a nice compilation of hits & some B-sides that never made it to lps, that is worth having. I’m resisting name checking my favorite tracks, even the sloppy lps have good moments (Pretty As You Feel).

 

All have created work outside of Airplane that is worth tracking down. Marty Balin’s Lucky is amazing. Sadly my cassette copy disintegrated & it has yet to be re-released 😦 Don’t know the band?! Shame on you 🙂 Start with any of the hits compilations & After Bathing: some of those cuts are best heard as they are sequenced on the lps. 

Scent

The morning was silent. Cool. I could smell the cold. Some quality the cold gave the air. What ice remained on the streets would crack underfoot like bullets. I wanted to go out, to feel that crack, to hear it echo down the still street, before the noise of life took over. I wanted to make the first noise of the day.

There was that dim blue light hovering on the roof tops, starlight reflected off snow and clouds, early distant sun waiting as the earth turned to face it, as the earth turned my house to face it. 

Too much cloud cover now for a real sunny morning, it would be dim cold and flat. Another day to race the sun to nightfall.

A noise – birds. The flutter and chirp. Bird feeder two houses down brought them out. Twitter twitter – small, harsh, clacking sound and flutter of crisp feathers – flutter feather and fly – tiny nails clicking along the eaves trough of my house, right over my window –

Can birds smell – did seeds have some scent that attracted them – I never figured out how they knew when and were to find those seeds. When that house stopped putting them out in the spring it took a few days before the birds would stop skittering around and even then there would an occasional foray to see if the seeds had returned.

Winter birds, little warm balls of heart racing heat. Was it worth it? To find some nook in a tree somewhere and hope not to freeze into a black fuzzy ice pellet overnight.

More light. I could see the ceiling now. Clouds must be thinning as the light has some red in it. The ice blue warmed by some red. Nice. I’d like to get a sweater in that color. Cold Morning Mist. Now there’s a color name. Something with a cracked black line across the mist with a single pair of dirty brown birds snuggled together near the shoulder, over my heart.

Hmm. Good ideas won’t get me to work. Why hasn’t that alarm gone off yet? Bed too cozy to leave anyway. Lift my head enough to see the window, to look out, to see roofs of the world. That’s enough. Those hoar black streets can wait. White frost and salt residue along the curb. One good rain will wash it away. One good rain and spring will spring into summer. Yes, I think I’ll pray for rain today. Lots of rain.

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every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
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September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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