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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The Professor and The Psychedelic Furs

I have Professor Longhair (1918-1980): Mardi Gras in New Orleans, another of the Essential Blue Archive compilation releases. His piano style is described as a mambo-rhumba boogie thing. A legendary performer I felt I should have in my collection. Fun stuff & sound quality is good.

Next on the shelf is this mp3 cd collection of 80’s Brit pop groups that made some headway into the mainstream & others that remained fringe alternative. Starting with The Psychedelic Furs: Forever Now (1980), Mirror Moves (1984), Midnight to Midnight (1987), Made of Rain (2020). Thanks to a couple of movie soundtracks the Furs went from almost-known to sensations.  Slightly Goth-emo songs that progress into major pop hits. Similar to The Cure but not as shoe-gazer our as quirky. Songs of loneliness, love, & even some with political intent. I enjoy the production work. I am enough of a fan to have picked up their ‘reunion’ lp Made of Rain – their first recording in a couple of decades which pretty much picks up where they left off.

More 80’s with the Buggles: Age of Plastic (1980) , Adventures In Modern Recording (1981) – one of the first of many products by Trevor Horn – with excellent hooky pop songs, brilliant engineering & of course the unforgettable Video Killed. Both this lps I had at one time as cassettes. The list of acts Horn produced is endless & includes Art of Noise, Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Another 80’s combo is Cabaret Voltaire: Red Mecca (1981) – they defined moody Goth with their dense keyboards & mystic lyrics. Electronica & easy to absorb – if you like slightly experimental emo this is a band for you.

One of my favorite 80’s bands was Talk Talk. In this mp3 collection I have The Colour of Spring (1986), Spirit of Eden (1988) – the band started electronic pop but moved away from that with a dense eclectic that moved into what I call chamber rock. Music that wasn’t based on beat-per-minute or radio sensibility. Spirit of Eden is beautiful.

Lastly a real rock group who survived the 80’s The Pretenders’ Packed! (1991) with the expected tough sound. Perhaps not a best-seller but proof that solid, non-emo groups were still alive & well. Hynde’s vocal as compelling, the songs are good if not inspired & there is a great cover of Hendrix’s “May This Be Love” that is worth tracking down. 

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The Pretenders

First there was Leslie Gore, then along came Grace & Janis, eventually Suzi Quatro – female vocalists of differing power but all who rocked – paving the way for Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. In may collection I have Debut 1979, II 1981, Get Close 1986, The Singles 1987, Packed! 1990, Last of the Independents 1994, Viva el Amor 1999, Break Up the Concrete 2008. Some started as lps, progressed to cassette & now are here as either standalone or mp3.

I remember hearing that first lp & being struck by the all-out power of her vocals, her lyrics & that tough girl image. Emotionally raw & challenging romantic fantasy while being sexually frank about her own desires this lp is a rock classic. The band is tight, propelling & match her emotions note for note. Without playing it, I can hear Brass in the Pocket.

Their sound didn’t change much over the course of the lps I have but the emotional charge did dissipate – success often tempers anger 🙂 The lyrics become a little more world-view & verge on political. Chrissie reveals some vulnerability as well. In her later solo career she explores jazz .

There were changes in members, in labels, producers yet the band remained consistently focused – there was never, say, a disco phase, or a punk moments or any attempts at hip-hop. No attempts were made to force a hit-parade sound just solid musicianship & powerhouse vocals. If you’re looking for a rock band, look no further – they may be The Pretenders but they’re the real deal.

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Elbow Ass-Slapping

Elbow is another of those British groups that followed in the wake of Coldplay – similar to Doves – they have a solid adult rock sound. Intelligent, emotional lyrics & compelling song structure. They explore different sonics within a limited range – piano, guitar based with interesting rhythm explorations. Another modern group very reminiscent of Procol Harum.

 

I have as stand alone’s: a cast of thousands, Leaders of the Western World, The Seldom Seen Kid; and on one of my sprawling mp3 collections is Build a Rocket Boy. There is a clear musical & lyrical progression from lp to lp. There is no mistaking them for anyone else. Great hooks but perhaps too adult to grab the mainstream ear.

The mp3 collection includes some soundtracks: Nino Rota’s Romeo & Juliette: this was the film version that using right aged actors & the music is lush & romantic. I was rebel enough to actually own a copy of the lp in the face of my pals who preferred John Prine. Also the soundtrack from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliette: flashy pop for a flashy pop take on the classic story. It only made sense to also include the soundtrack to his Moulin Rouge in which the music is more integrated into the plot. Both pictures made me glad I wasn’t the set-dresser in charge of lighting candles.

I couldn’t resist the soundtrack to Tropic Thunder partly thanks to Tom Cruise’s Get Back by Ludacris ass slapping moments. Then to round things out Graham Parker’s Human Soul & The Pretenders’ Packed! Two British bands that influenced Elbow & two lps that I had as cassette & needed to be replaced with newer versions that didn’t, thankfully, include dozens of bonus tracks. More about them with I get to P.

Tranquil

‘This is the place in my Kingdom where all is perfect.’ Princess Tranquil stood at the window that overlooked the jungle.

‘Ah Princess Tranquil, I feel so privileged to be allowed this glimpse of the world outside your bower. That my eyes can look upon what your’s look upon is a gift I never expected.’

Princess Tranquil’s laughed and clapped her hands. ‘Now don’t get carried away. The tasks you have before you entitle you to this one moment of grace.’

‘Tasks?’

‘Why yes, Prince Harper. You are here to win my hand? To take what is rightful yours?’

‘No Highness.’

Princess Tranquil’s eyes clouded. ‘You dare tell me that I have been wrong in my assumptions?’

‘Princess, I do beg your forgiveness but I have been sent here by my father on a mission of greatest urgency. Marriage will not be the solution to the dire events that are about to fall upon both our Kingdoms.’

‘Not as dire as what will happen as a result of your spurring me.’

Princess Tranquil reached for the mallet to ring the gong to would summon her servants.

Prince Harper stopped her.

‘Please Princess do not let your emotions get in the way. The White Worms have been seen at the boarders of our Kingdoms.’

‘The White Worms?’ Princess Tranquil stepped to her window. ‘Are you sure of this?’

‘Yes Princess. I have brought this as proof.’

He handed her the discarded People magazine that had been found.

Her hands shook as she unfolded the pages. Image after glossy image of the white worms assaulted her.

‘There are so many of them. What can we do?’

‘I do no know. That is why I have been sent.’

‘Then the first task before our marriage will be to deal with this crisis.’

‘Marriage?’

‘Yes, I have deemed to accept your offer of marriage.’

‘I have made no such offer. As you well know that offer must be made from my father to your mother.’

‘If this threat is a dire as you say we have no time to waste on such ritual. I have the power to put aside such barriers.’

‘You do me great honour Princess. Great honour.’

Princess Tranquil unwrapped the long scarf that bound her hair. She tied it around the left calf of Prince Harper.

‘Wear this, my token, into the battles that are sure to ensue. It has power to protect you from the White Worms.’

‘Thank you. Thank you.’ Prince Harper backed out of the vaulted chamber careful not to trip over the tangled ends of the eight foot scarf.

Chapbooks available: http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

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kiss3on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Disability after Dark  iTunes

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June 9-10: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 – flight & hotel booked already

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check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

August 31-Sept.3 – I have my ticket already

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November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

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Raised by Noir Wolves

Cabaret Noir started the new year off in fine style with dynamic sets from Brock Hessel, David Bateman & music by Cap & Kev. Kevin, at the Central, with zydeco then French Pop 60’s playlists created a great mood for the show.

bow

I’d seen Brock perform recently and was eager to hear what new material he had. His first piece about a bathhouse Betty introduced us to his relentlessly pointed observations of gay and pop culture, politics and the mental health system. ‘Someone called me an asshole – how can a part of me represent the whole?’ He closed with Joanne’s Hands or is Johanda’s Hands – a no-holds-bars milking of Canadian cultural icons from Layton to Lightfoot.  http://brawk-ward.tumblr.com

hedge

  Next up was David Bateman. I’ve heard David several times and each time he’s had strong new pieces, so I was looking forward to his latest observations, stories and maybe a haiku or two. No haiku’s but a fine long memory piece: ‘I kissed her husband ten times, deeply,’ ‘raised by wolves in a badly furnished den,’ ‘now that I’m too old to die young.’ The piece was rich with cultural references: KFC, Dairy Queen, trailer parks and assassinations. http://batemanpoetry.blogspot.ca/

broken

This is the first time I’ve heard musical feature Cap & Kev, as Cap & Kev – as members of I Hate Todd – I’ve heard them in various combinations with other circle of jerkers. A violin & acoustic guitar duo they treated us to a great set of mid-tempo, adult, folksy material. The violin added warm, Celtic accents that took me back to my coffee house days in Cape Breton. They mixed original material with some great covers of John Prine, The Pretenders (!!) & Death Cab. When they started Brass in The Pocket I was slightly dismayed but Cap seized that song & turned it into her own with a dynamic performance. Loved their hockey song as well – not sure what it was called but it scored.

A Noir full house made for a great start for 2014 (plus an all too brief lap dance for me from Nelson Sobral.)

 

samples 

Beginning

Jess looked down at the knife. It was in her hand. She held it. Clutched it would be more accurate. It was embedded in her grip and the sight of the silver blade gripped her.

She held it at arm’s length to keep it as far from her face as possible.

“Is this a dagger before me?” She breathed the words into the cold air, her breath a cloud of frost before her. A cloud that for a brief moment hid the knife from her.

The moon reflected from the beads of her breath as they formed a frost pattern on the blade. Cold hard steel that would liberate her, free her people, if she wielded it properly.

“The Word will come to pass.” Jess held the blade over head, the tip of it grazing the low branch of the oak tree above her. Where it grazed a thin spark of blue appeared and vanished.

“The Tower of the east will no longer have the power to possess.” She turned to the east with the tip of the dagger aimed in that direction.

“The Fires of the south will no longer have the warmth to boil the life out of our souls.” She muttered as she moved the point of the dagger to the south.

“The Watch of the west will lose all grip on reality, on the word she thinks holds her intact.” The blade vibrated for a moment as it locked into true west. “You can resist but only for this moment.”

“The Desert of the north will blow across the land only one more time.” She brought the blade point to north. “We will allow it only one last time to cover all the land with the healing power of dryness. Then life will spring anew.”

She directed the blade at the rocky ground beneath her and with all her force drove the point into stone. The stone shattered and separated beneath her feet. The very planet shook for an instant.

“Earth has been moved for this moment. As has been written the Spirit of Life has been set free again. All elements will be bound together for ever.”

Jess tugged the dagger. It was solid in the stone. With all her might she pulled but it resisted. This was not the way it was to be. If all was done right the dagger would slide out easily from the stone to reach once more past the moon and to the sun as it rose.

If she did not raise the dagger high she didn’t know what the consequence might it. It would not be good.

She stopped tugging a moment and held the handle gently in her hand.

“You take what you need from the earth.” She wiped her brow and gently slid the dagger out. The silver blade was now black, with no reflection. She couldn’t tell where the blade ended and the night began.

frozen