Nutini Doin’

This mp3 cd compilation covers styles, countries, & generations. Filed under ’n’ for Paolo Nutini: These Streets/Caustic Love. The name suggests Italy but he hails from Ireland & is described as blue-eyed soul. His singles & lps have repeatedly topped the British charts in the 20teens. So this is also ‘modern’ pop. He has a good voice, writes well, sings well & the music is engineered perfectly. 

Skiffle star Lonnie Donegan goes back to the mid 50’s. I have 100 Original Tracks (all of them are not on this cd) His first big hit Rock Island Line & he had over 30 chart toppers after that. A prime influence on nearly every British group in the 60s including the Beatles, the Stones. The songs are fun, some border on music hall. Skiffle is a sort of rock-a-billy sound. The recordings are now public domaine which why the 100 cost me 5.99. 

Another retro sound, out of the USA, is surf rock as played by The Trashmen: Tube City (the Best Of). Best known for ‘Surfin’ Bird’ this a fun collection if their instrumentals – think a looser version of The Ventures with a sense of humour.

Peter Gabriel’s Security was his US market breakthrough. Up to it he was a sort of cult favourite after leaving Genesis. The sound is vaguely ominous & dark almost Goth. The songs are elegant, gloomy yet uplifting at the same time. I have the German version in another cd compilation. Both are worth having.

Velvet Underground: White Light White Heat bonus tracks. There was an extensive reissue of this a few years ago filled with out-takes, different takes & a set of live recordings. The live sound is okay with an almost endless version of Sister Ray.

The Toys: Complete Studio Recordings 1979-80. The Toys are a short-lived British power pop band about whom I know nothing. The songs are competent & fun.

Scott Matthew: Unlearned – includes ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ done as a tender folk-emo waltz. The video sold me on this take & the lp continues the mood of troubled romances, longing & hopes from a gay male point-of-view. Sweet & romantic – good mood music for a first date.

We’ve been to Ireland, Britain, USA & now our last stop on this mp3 cd is Africa with Michael Olatunji: the Nigerian percussionist. His African Drums includes ‘Shango’ & a rich assortment of traditional Nigerian & other tribal music. He broke into the USA market in the mid50’s & introduced world music to the world. A good starter for anyone exploring African music.

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Tchaikovsky

I was introduced to Tchaikovsky through Fantasia without knowing who I was being introduced to. When I bought my first real stereo: turntable, speakers, receiver – from Radio Shack – the first album I played on it was a recording of his first piano concerto. It was a wow moment. 

Since then my collection of his work has grown from box sets to cassettes & to cd box sets & mp3. buy Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian 1840 –1893) I have as stand-alones: Queen of Spades 3 cd, Nutcracker ballet, 1812 Overtures & other orchestral work, Complete Piano & orchestra 2cd, Complete String Quartets 2cd, Choral Work, Violin Concerto w: Beethoven: Violin Concerto 61.

On 3cds of mp3 I have the Complete Symphonies, Complete Solo Piano Music, Piano Concertos, Orchestral works: Capriccio Italien, Francesca da Rimini, Ballet Suites, Romeo & Juliet, Swan Lake, Nutcracker; Violin Concertos. Rounding out the cds are Dvorak: Four-Hand Piano; Prokofiev: The Buffoon ballet; Berloiz: Romeo & Juliet ballet; Stravinsky: Firebird.

Some duplicates but each version is a different interpretation. Melodic, lyrical, some radical at the time, romantic, over-the-top, melodramatic & sometimes saccharin & sentimental – what’s not to like? Some of the music barely contains his personal inner turmoil around his queerness – at time when it was a capital offence – actually in Russia I think it still is.

The ballet suites are a good introduction to his music. The whole ballets can be a bit much without dancers 🙂 The Queen of Spades opera is pleasant enough. His string quartets are sublime. If you want melodrama, melody & heartbreaking romance this is the composer for you.

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Nico’s Nirvana News

News & The Blues: Telling It Like It Is – this is a great of early blues recordings by the likes of Bessie Smith, Big Bill Broonzy & more. It is an excellent introduction to the time, to the performers & the political, labour context, with songs like“WPA Blues” “Unemployment Stomp.” Original recordings that have been sonically improved. I borrowed the cd from the library & made a cassette copy but eventually replaced it with this stand-alone.

Nico (Christa Päffgen) almost stole the first Velvet Underground’s lp with her smokey insidious singing. Her Euro accent added a level of sophistication to her tracts that the others didn’t have. I have stand-alone of her first lp: Chelsea Girl with songs by John Cale, Lou Reed & Jackson Browne. I later discovered she & Browne were lovers at the time! I’m sure there’s a movie in that relationship. 

Like many I was shocked & dismayed by the unexpected death of Kurt Cobain. I can’t say I was a fan but I did like Teen Spirit. I have stand-alones Nirvana’s Incesticide & Nevermind. Nevermind came first – bought on sale at HMV; Incesticide after his death – bought at nearby (now gone) 2nd hand record/cd/book store.

The pain in his voice is impossible to miss so his suicide wasn’t a surprise to me. The outpouring of grief went beyond gawking – people were genuinely hurt by his death. There is something about early death that instantly turns stars into legends so appraising their work is difficult. Not everything recorded by Janis, Jim Morrison, Hendrix, Prince is a work of genius but we can’t be critical of dead. As Blondie sang ‘die young stay pretty.’ 

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Nilsson Sparks Perth and the Frogs Beyond

Over a two cd mp3 collection if have Nilsson’s Aerial Pandemonium Ballet (1971) – reworking earlier material – “Without Her”; Nilsson Schmilsson (1971) “Without You” “Gotta Get Up”; Son of Schmilsson (1972) “You’re Breaking My Heart” “Joy”; A Little Touch of Schmilsson In The Night (1973) “Lazy Moon”. You might say I am a fan 🙂

Some of these I had as lp at the time, some were added later. He hit big with Everybody’s Talkin’ used in the film Midnight Cowboy. His songs run from ultra-romantic to hilariously bitter. His vocals on ‘Without You” are heartbreaking in a way Ed Sheeran can only dream about. Things apparently didn’t go well with her though, resulting in “You’re Breaking My Heart” – ‘so fuck you.’ On ‘Little Touch’ he does sublime work on classics while adding little touches of humour to them. A genius who got destroyed by booze, drugs & John Lennon.

‘Sparks’ Maels brothers group overflows with off kilter humour. Here I have Propaganda (1974) “Don’t Leave Me Alone With Her”; Indiscreet (1975) “Hospitality On Parade” “Tits.” Similar to the smart-ass 10 c.c. these guys are witty, musically gifted & relentless. The cover art on these is also amazing.

One of my mid60’s top-ten hit-parade loves was Crispian St. Peters’ ‘The Pied Piper’ the recorder was seductive & the engineering excellent. I may have had the 45 at the time. So a few years ago I tracked down his lps & here have The Pied Piper (1966) & Follow Me (1966). The 2nd has the radio mix  of “Pied Piper.” The earlier version is more sweetly folksy while the 2nd has more of a rock feel. His voice & other material is very Van Morrison Them period.

Alan Price made the Animals hit parade worthy & then departed the band. I have his lp with Georgie Fame and Alan Price: Together (1971); & the must have Oh Lucky Man soundtrack (1973). Fame is a British blues, r’n’b legend who never made it big in America; which is also true for Alan – except for the Lucky Man soundtrack. That lp was a must have thanks to the wild movie it is from. Price appears in the film – not seen it? Find it asap.

Barry McGuire: Anthology. If you are looking for a ‘lost’ Mamas & Papas lp his second is the one to find. Produced by John Philips & with all backing vocals by the M&P it is classic California flower power. The bulk of it is in this Anthology including the still relevant Eve of Destruction (by P.F. Sloan). After his initial pop splash he escaped rock evils into contemporary Christian music.

Another early 70’s must have Canada’s Perth County Conspiracy out of Stratford Ontario. I loved Does Not Exist (1970) & enjoyed Alive (1971). Sweet harmonies for a folk-rock commune when everybody wanted to love down on the farm & in a commune. Love songs, anti-war songs, amazing engineering. Free love overflows from these lps (now mp3s) though it was hetero love so the farms were safe for kids.

Not safe for kids was Jackie Shane: Live (1967) Jackie was a pioneer transgender performer who shook up the Toronto r.n.b scene. Think James Brown in drag (not be confused with Little Richard). Jackie became too popular & ended up deported back to the States. The music is solid soul with a fearless nod to queer lives. I have a collection of Jackie’s studios recording on another mp3 bonanza.

Finally is The Frogs: It’s Only Right & Natural (1989) gay garage band with cellos! Wildly funny, almost deconstructed pop with cellos! A clear influence on The Hidden Cameras. A track was posted on Tumblr & I had to have more. You want a slice of out queer music history this is for you.



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Afro-Classic Laws

I picked up Hubert Laws’  Afro-Classic (1970) at a used record store back in the day. I was attracted by the cover art – the cheetah (I think), then by the selection (Bach/Mozart) & finally by the producer: Don Sebesky. A few years later I added lp of Rite of Spring (1971) another all classical jazz. When I upgraded to mp3 I added Studio Trieste (1982) w Chet Baker (includes Swan Lake), & Land Of Passion (1979) easy listening a step above Kenny G.

Don Sebesky devoted himself primarily to arranging and conducting mashed up jazz/classical work for a cadre of prime jazz musicians such as Hubert Laws, Gabor Szabo, Wes Montgomery. His ‘Big Box’ contains the superb mash of Birds of Fire with Firebird. His work is tasteful & easy – nothing aggressive or even transgressive. His work on the Hubert Laws lps is sweet, Laws is an excellent musician in his own right & the two of them go together well. If you are unfamiliar try Rite of Spring.

Walt Dickerson: Impressions of Lawrence of Arabia  (1963) Jarre’s music by vibraphonist Dickerson was an lp I picked up 2nd hand & enjoyed. I knew the film music but had didn’t know Dickerson at all. An engaging & interesting exploration of the music I’ve always enjoyed. Nothing aggressive but more than mere instrumental background music.

Also on this cd are some more challenging works by John Abercrombie Quartet (1980) on the ECM label. This a simmering shimmering set with amazing guitar work by Abercrombie. Inventive without becoming overly aggressive. If you want to step up the challenging there is Jan Garbarek’s Esoteric Circle (1969) Norwegian tenor sax Gararek is joined by the amazing Terje Rypdal on guitar. Gararek work here is more jazzy than soaring – his sound is distinctive & I’d recommend anything by him. Rypdal is amazing too & even creates his own guitars. Sonic tapestries that are slightly discomforting in a good way.

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Bardot’s Bayou Enfer

I used to visited Montreal frequently during the late 80’s to attend a bi-lingual lgbtq recovery round-up. I started to collect French pop to improve my French. I saw a video in a noisy cafe,  couldn’t hear it but the images were enough for me to track down the band – Niagara. I found a cassette of Encore un denier baiser (1986), & over the years added Quel enfer! (1988), Religion (1990). All of which I have now have in an mp3 collection. 

The duo Muriel Moreno & Daniel Chenevez started synth-pop but progressed a more hard-edge guitar sound. Similar to The Eurythmics, but a less serious approach & with a more retro sound as well. I found Religion cd at a yard sale one year, in a jewel case but without liner note or cover. Energetic, fun & no help in improving my French 🙂

It was in Montreal I discovered that Brigitte Bardot had a pop career. A light, sweet voice. On. the mo3 collection I have Brigitte Bardot Sings (1963) (which includes La Madrague), Brigitte Bardot Show 67 (1968) (which includes Harley Davidson, Gang Gang). She worked often with Serge Gainsbourg. Nicely produced with elements of rock, disco & bossa nova. 

I have the complete Jacques Brel. In this compilation I’ve included his Mijn vlakke land (1962) that has him signing in Dutch, French & Flemish. Where is the biopic of this amazing, influential musician? Maybe his life wasn’t as dramatic as Piaf?

Rounding out this French collection is Zachary Richard (American) but living in Canada (I think) Bayou Des Mysteres(1976), Travailler c’est trop dur (2002 anthologie). I bought the lp of Bayou in Montreal  & eventually replaced it with this mo3 download. I added Travailler more recently. He has a warm bass, similar to Tony Joe White. His music is seductive mix of Cajun and Zydeco. Although he has recorded in English his career has been notably Francophone & his list of Canadian awards is endless. Improving my French is not one of his achievements though 🙂

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The Barbarians and Other Critters

This is the last of the five cd retro collection. The Barbarians, out of Cape Cod- one-hit wonder garage band from 1965 Their song ‘Are You A Boy or Are You A Girl’ gets its own Wiki page. The album of the same name is mainly fun covers of things like Mr. Tamborine Man. Uncomplicated rock music full of energy & hope. I remember this song & was one of those guys who was taunted on the street with that very phrase. A question I also asked myself growing up queer with no support or even guidance. I survived & remain a gay cismale. 

The Critters (New Jersey). Younger Girl (1966) – Mr Dieingly Sad. Similar to the Association – sweet soft folk-rock harmonies with some original tune & covers. One-hit wonders your mother would like. Songs of innocent young love. A few covers including nice take on the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Younger Girl. Today Younger Girl sounds a little creepy/pedo to me.

The Cyrkle: Red Rubber Ball 1966 (Pennsylvania) – includes Cloudy, Turn Down Day – similar to The Critters but with more of a rock edge, harmonies not as sweet or soft. I remember them from top 40 radio at the time as their big hit was cowritten by Paul Simon. They toured with the Beatles tanks to sharing Brian Epstine as manager. 

The Leaves (San Fernando Valley): All The Good That’s Happening (1966). A more bluesy version of The Crykle, edging into flower power but still safe too. They show up in the movie The Cool Ones! The Soul Survivors (Philadelphia): When The Whistle Blows I remember their Expressway To Your Heart from 1967 & those expressway sound effects. The the rest of the lp is sweet, soulful sort of funky & fun. My first taste of the Philly sound & the non-flower power world of pop.

For the rest of this compilation we leave the USA for some old country travel. These were all internet discoveries over the last decades – music I never would have heard on the east coast back in the day. Q65, out of the Netherlands, Revolution (1966). A tight bluesy band in the Paul Butterfield mold. Some traditional blues like Bring It On Home & original material too. From Switzerland comes The Shiver: Walpurgis 1969 – Hammond organ, “acid rock” – think Procol Harum not Deep Purple. Progrock originals & some great covers: i.e. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood 

The Twilights (Australia): Once Upon A Twilight (1968) is regarded one of the best Australian pop albums of the era. Who knew? Well recorded, tightly written & performed Aussie pop that doesn’t sound like the BeeGees 🙂 More or less a down under version of The Critters, in fact, with an international push they could have been as big as The Critters.

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Stravinsky Goes Hollywood

Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971): Russian but US citizen from 1945. His ballet The Rite of Spring (1913) transformed the way in which subsequent composers thought about rhythmic structure. I have an mp3 collection of his complete Ballets, Symphonies & orchestral music. Of course we have Walt Disney’s Fantasia for making Stravinsky almost a household name 🙂 I’m surprised Disney didn’t insist on royalties every time any version of The Rite gets played.

The ballet suites for The Firebird & Petrouchka are frequently performed as orchestral as well as ballet works. The only one I have seen as a ballet is the Rites. I was disappointed there were no dinosaurs 🙂 These three pieces have become classical war horses & I have versions interpreted by jazz, progrock & electronic musicians. 

The Rite is, to my ears, the most ‘radical’ of the works of his I am familiar with thanks to this collection. I had at one time an MHS cassette set of some of these pieces, which lost its tension. For the most part his work is pleasant with elements of jazz, traditional classical, Russian folk melodies running through it. The ballet music doesn’t really need the ballet to enjoy it – then again, I also have soundtracks to movies I have never seen.

I’ve watched portions of the ballets on TV, YouTube & each dance company & choreographer brings their own vision to the music anyway so the visual elements – movement, lighting, costumes – are always changing while the music remains relatively the same. The non-ballet works are interesting & the symphonies are sweeping & satisfying.

Reading about his life I was surprised to find out that he moved to the USA in 1939 & settled down in Hollywood! 

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Ramblin’ McCoys and Oar-thers

Old New 4: Bobby Fuller Four: (out of El Paso) I Fought The Law (1966) beside the hit single this lp also includes the amazingly catchy Let Her Dance. This lp crackles with excellent mid60’s non-flower-power or Brit influenced songs. A one-hit wonder mainly because Bobby Fuller died under mysterious circumstances on July 18, 1966. His body was found beaten inside his car parked just outside of his Hollywood home.

Ramblin’ Jack Elliot: Takes The Floor (1958) includes: Mule Skinner Blues. Elliot is one of the original folkies along with Pete Seeger. Simple, politically aware folk/protest songs accompanied by guitar, pleasant voice & well, I needed some of this pre-Dylan history 🙂 According to Wiki he’s still alive!

The McCoys (Union City): Best Of – best remembered for Hang On Sloopy & Fever this band led by Rick Derringer produced a slew of excellent pop during the late 60’s. Bouncy fun almost bubble-gum pop Rick went on to a more ‘serious’ career recording extensively with blues giant Johnny Winter & late as part of Edgar Winter Band 

Shuggie Otis: a Californian he primarily known as a guitarist, also sings and plays a multitude of other instruments. Released in 1974 Inspiration Information – Otis plays everything except the strings & horns resulting in a psychedelic soul and folky introspection,& electronica. He recorded a few solid lps but his career never took off.

Skip Spence – Oar is a legendary lp by a musician who played with The Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, & founded Moby Grape. Oar consists songs he penned during a 6-month stay at Bellevue Hospital. Moody folksy shoe-gazer forefather for the likes of Ed Sheeran.

Nancy Sinatra rode the wave of 60’s girl singers on her father’s fame & also on her own dogged determination. She picked great songs & worked with the right men. Some of her work transcends nostalgia some drowns in it. Her collaborations with Lee Hazelwood are timeless. Country My Way (1967) includes the classic Jackson. She has a pleasant enough voice & she’s sort of the Katy Perry of her time.

Joey Dee & The Starliters: out of New Jersey they may not have ‘invented’ the Twist – a dance craze that swept the world but they turned dance clubs into discos. Hey, Let’s Twist is a compilation of hits & singles including The Peppermint Twist. Exuberant early 60’s pop before the British invasion & garage bands took over the charts.

 

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Kinks Kooper Pharaohs plus

This mp3 cd of retro fun contains Britain’s: The Kinks: Kinks (1964) – includes: You Really Got Me, Stop Your Sobbing. You Really Got Me has one of the classic guitar riffs which dominates this propulsive lps of basic muscular rock that has inspired countless bands. Tough songs of love & heterosexual triumph. Over the years the band has changed its sound, direction but always maintained powerful creative energy. This is where it all started.

The pop history of Al Kooper stretches back to the late 50’s but he really surfaced in the late 60’s thanks to his work with Bob Dylan & Blood Sweat & Tears. He released some of the first ‘super group’ lps. Here is his Kooper Sessions/Super Sessions 2 (1968): with Shuggie Otis (only 15 at the time) includes a great Bury My Body. Not quite as successful as Supersessions 1 but good.

The Left Banke (NY): There’s Gonna Be A Storm: Complete Recordings, the first 2 lps plus some singles i.e. Walk Away Renee. The sound baroque rock with strings/harpsichord. Because this was American it was never called progrock. A definite prelude to the chamber pop work of Antony & the Johnsons. Articulate love songs that aren’t cloying or condescending to women. 

Poco: (Los Angles) Crazy Eyes (1973) Richie Furay and Jim Messina after Buffalo Springfield – country rock at its finest. This is one of my favourite lps of the 70’s. I had the cassette, which finally gave way to tension & replaced its with the mp3 version. Each song is excellent. My favourite is the simmering Magnolia – you sweet thing. A must have for any collection.

Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs (Dallas): Their Second Album (1965) (Witchcraft; Love Potion #9); Anthology: Wooly Bully (1964) – was their Egyptian look cultural appropriation? The groups was mainly Latino musicians who specialized in novelty songs, like Little Red Riding Hood, with swampy/rock-a-billy sound. I loved hearing these guys on the radio & dancing to Wooly Bully. Lead singer Sam Samudio has a great Eric Burdon type voice. His solo lp ‘Hard and Heavy’ is good.

The Yardbirds (London): Roger The Engineer (1966) combines elements of blues rock and psychedelic rock on tracks like Over Under Sideways Down & my personal favourite: Hot House of Omagararshid. Jeff Beck was still with the band – Roger was their sound engineer (& no relation to The Who’s Ivor the engine driver). A rock version of Pink Floyd & this lp is a delight.

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