Friday, June 26, 2009

Sands - Listen to the Sky

1. Band started out as the The Others in 1963.

2. Changed name first to The Army, and then Sands (no "the"). Managed by Brian Epstein and Robert Stigwood. Lost members to Procul Harum and the Jeff Beck Group.

3. I've seen a couple of places that interest in the band waned after Brian Epstein's death in August 1967. Two members of the band went on to form Sundragon, and then seem to have disappeared.

4. The single was released in 1967 on Reaction Records, #591017. Listen to the Sky was actually bottom-side, the top-side being the Bee Gees tune "Mrs. Gillespie's Refrigerator".

5. The song was written by Ian McLintock. Since a lot of 60s psych-poppers seem to be doing stuff lately, I searched to see if I could find him, but the last mention I find is an Ian McLintock that produced Be-Bop Deluxe's Axe Victim, a proggy record from 1974. Notes someone has written about that album say that McLintock has been unknown since then.

6. It's really a brilliant piece of pop-sike, with multiple parts, great harmonies, a slightly proggy bass-line, and those beautiful mid song stops (how come you don't here those mid song pauses as much anymore at the end of choruses?)

7. The ending is actually a rendition of Gustav Holst's "Mars, the bringer of War" from the Planets suite. You can see that symphony here. Jump to about minute two for to see what they are riffing off of.

8. While we're on the references thing, I find it interesting the guitar at the begginning seems to reference a baroque meoldy to me (Pachebel/Bach-like to my ears at least -- is it a direct quoting of something, does anybody know?) and the end is a rendition of Holst.

9. Lyrics -- I like the bit about the socks. Such an English pop-sike touch.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Del Shannon - I Think I Love You

From his 1968 album The Further Adventures of Charles Westover:

5 notes, b/c I'm on my way out the door right now...

1. This was designed to be the psych-influenced comeback of Del Shannon, who is famous for his early 1960's hits, most particularly the brilliant single "Runaway". And one might think such an attempt would be wince-worthy, but the album is quite good.

2. Charles Westhover is his birthname.

3. I think listening to this and Runaway back to back makes for an interesting experience. What it reminds me of is that even simple songs have to have a bunch of ideas in them. You see attention to that on Runaway, which in about 2 minutes delivers the listener a whole host of little delights -- and there's a way in which that really serves Del Shannon in the psych genre.

4. The sound of this reminds me of a bunch of stuff that was current at the time, but particularly of French chamber pop like Gerard Manset's album of that same year.

5. Does anyone hear a little Neil Young in there? In the vocal delivery? Am I crazy?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Los Chijuas -- Changing the Colors of Life (1968)

Nine notes:

1. Released by Musart, #45-4445 in 1968. I think, but am not absolutely sure, that the top-side was the english version of the song, and the bottom the Spanish version: Estan Cambiando Los Colores De La Vida. The song was written by the Ganem brothers.

2. The band was from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. But the Ganem brothers, the driving force behind the band, were originally from El Paso, and went down to Mexico to record this single with Musart and ended up staying.

3. Mexican garage was not called garage at the time (hardly surprising since even the Brits didn't use the term). The term of the day was more likely musica a go-go or musica ye-ye.

4. The lyrics, in my estimation, are someone talking to someone else who has tripped, but not hard enough to really open their mind. The point: if that acid really kicked in for you you'd see it changing the colors of life.

5. The verse is simple garage: the verse is a i-II-VII progression I think, with the chorus alternating between the i and II and adding in the VI.

6. Arrangement simple too -- keyboard and bass sticking to basics, the guitar jangly, and the drums oddly muted except for the high-hat/tamb. Some dischord is occasionally introduced via the keyboard. Drums are restrained in the verse, with more crash in the chorus.

7. I like the solo, in addition to it being a nice garage style it sounds like there's maybe a little drone-string thing going on about midway?

8. Typical ending, repeat hook and fade at the point where you'd normally come in for another verse.

9. Weird, but maybe true -- the current MySpace page of the Ganem brothers, which seems to indicate they are living in Boxborough, Massachusetts, and currently unsiged:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Small Faces -- Song of a Baker (May 1968)

Nine things:

1. Verse is a simple chord progression, reminiscent of a lot of bands, for me it particularly recalls The Who (maybe it's also the crash on the chord changes). It's a four measure pattern: D A C G (which I think would be a I-V-VIIb-IV progression, please correct if wrong).

2. The chord pattern repeats in 4 beats, the paired lines take 5 beats, followed by 3 beats of just music, which results in the end of each line ending on the D Major and the other chords following through the progression. I'm not a music theory guy, but this seems a pretty common pattern.

3. Lyrics:

There's wheat in the field
And water in the stream
And salt in the mine
And an aching in me

I can no longer stand and wonder
'Cos I'm driven by this hunger
So I'll jug some water
Bake some flour
Store some salt and wait the hour

While I'm thinking of love
Love is thinking for me
And the baker will come
And the baker I'll be

I am depending on my labour
The texture and the flavour


I can no longer stand and wonder
Cos I'm driven by this hunger

So I'll jug some water, bake some flour.
Store some salt and wait the hour.

4. At first I thought of this as fairy-tale rock, but I don't think it quite is. It's a sort of folk song vocab, but with none of the weird narrative that accompanies the fairy-tale/parable sike genre.

5. The lyrics are consciously simple, but very symmetrical. The first verse is all potentialities: unharvested wheat, unfetched water, unmined salt -- and this moves to the emotional point of the song in the last line of the first verse, the narrator's aching, implicitly compared to these unfulfilled things.

6. The song moves in the second verse to action, and continues the symmetry. The baker will turn the wheat to bread, jug the water, and mine the salt.

7. And finally the point of the metaphor, he will be the "baker", and turn all these potentialities, including his own unfulfilled desire, into realities. He'll turn the longing into something by acting on it. And then he'll wait the hour to see what came of his efforts. And that's it. Rather than return to verses after the solo, the song puts together the two couplets from the first and second choruses and fades.

8. It's certainly not rocket science, the lyrics here. But the nice restrained metaphor coupled with the unornamented symmetry wins me over. Despite the lofty conceit, it has an honest feel to it, a simple song about taking control of your destiny.

9. Incidentally the above performance was mimed, but is one of the better mime-jobs I've seen in 60s shows. It was aired on BBC's television programme Colour Me Pop on Friday June 21, 1968. The band made special recordings earlier that afternoon for the show, then mimed them on air.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Creation -- How Does It Feel To Feel (February 1968)

One of the greatest freakbeat songs of all time. This MP3 version is obviously degraded, on a CD-quality version the song is just loud and raw and filled with aharmonic guitar noise and overtones -- if you think this is a great sound you should really get a better copy -- it will blow you away.

The song structure here is alright, but not extraordinary. The killer part of the song is the incessant pounding of that just evilly-miked snare, a chord structure that is 90% a single chord, combined with beautifully discordant guitar noises. From the first feedback chirps, you will be in love.

Nine things about the song:

1. The stunning bit in the Creation songs is the work of Eddie Phillips on guitar. This is just divine guitar noise here....

2. ...Which makes this bit out of Wikipedia sound strange: "After leaving The Creation (he was replaced briefly by Ronnie Wood), Phillips joined PP Arnold's band on bass, featuring on her hit "Angel Of The Morning"[1] before quitting music and reportedly becoming a bus driver. "

3. The production here is also top-notch, and was done by Shel Talmy, the guy behind "My Generation", The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and "Well-Respected Man, and the Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind". Despite his extensive accomplishments he has said that his work with the Creation is his most essential contribution to rock.

4. I've had a hell of a time finding out if the backing vocals and the doubling was the band or was Bob Garner overdubbed, any information welcome..

5. Ride apparently covered the song in 1994.

6. According to this, the group appeared at The Alexandra Palace 14 Hour Technicolour Dream, although they don't show up on the Wikipedia article about the event.

7. There's a neat switch in the vocals in the second verse -- it changes tone. But once again, there's no information I can find on the arrangement of this single.

8. Noise aside, a fairly typical outro for the period: a sloppy false ending, followed by repeat of the hook and fade.

9. I think (but am not sure) that the brief chord swap up right before the chorus is one of the chord progressions that are often seen as the signature garage/freakbeat progressions -- but I've lost my notes on those progressions, will look around shortly...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Christine Delaroche - La Fille Du Soleil (1966)

La Fille Du Soleil was released in 1966 by Christine Delaroche, a French TV and film star. Its melody in the verses is basically Secret Agent Man with a chamber-pop spin on it. On the whole, the production style reminds me a bit of Vashti Bunyan's Train Song, which was released the same year.

Information on the single is scarce, but it looks like the bottom-side may have been La Porte á Coté on the French 45 at least (EPL 8548).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Uc Hurel - Sevenler Ağlarmış.

At a conference today from 7:30 to sometime around 9pm (yes an insane length of time). So no nine comments on this one. But this is üç hürel from Turkey performing Sevenler Ağlarmış.

I'm still on the fence on this particular song, but I think it is interesting to see the Turkish style mixed with American/Brit psych structures.

Here'a the best Google translate could do on the lyrycs (w/ chords):

Am CG Am
I wish you a half, eyes green
I wish you a half, rose smiling face
I like very much would like, crazy love
Pes kosup from kosup finally get

Am C
I love, I would want to
G Am
How did you know, like aglarmis (x2)

Am CG Am
Was the end of a half, eyes green
Was the end of a half, rose smiling face
I loved the end, I like crazy
But this is the end of askin, I have never known

Am C
I love, I would want to
G Am
How did you know, like aglarmis (x2)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jason Crest -- Here We Go Round the Lemon Tree

It's tough to pick the best 1967 version of "Here We Go Round the Lemon Tree". The original Roy Wood/Move version (released as a B-side), the Idle Race top-side, or the Jason Crest version.

I went with the Jason Crest version. Here's nine comments about it.

1. The Jason Crest version was the third single I know of to be recorded of the Roy Wood song, and if I had to pick a reason I favor it it would be that Jason Crest pulls together the three parts of the song (verse, chorus, bridge) in a way that is coherent. Roy Wood writes deliciously schizophrenic songs, with bridges and choruses that seem divorced often from the verses. That's good, but I like the Jason Crest attempt to hide some of the seams here -- the strength here is the appearance of simplicity, and that's what the band focuses on.

2. Song story as I see it -- Boy sees crazy girl. Boy desires crazy girl. Crazy girl tells boy to bugger off in form of crazy song. Boy considers numerous approaches to her heart, but finally settles for joining in her delirium, wearing crazy underpants and singing crazy bugger-off song along with her. It works.

3. The song sounds bubblegum, but it's not. It's more William Blake. There's a deep repression in each of these lines, and Wood knows it.

4. Great near-rhymes: see me/bikini/fruit tree, tiger/cider/beside her.

5. Best line "Could I calm her down by throwing stones at her / If only I could make the right approach to her". That seems insane, but you've never taught 16 year old boys. They are clueless.

6. Typical nursery-rhyme psych-pop use of refrain -- it's something that someone is singing, but with each verse it takes on a slightly different meaning in the story, until at the end it's song as a sort of triumph. See also "Ob-li-di, Ob-la-da", etc.

7. Yes, I know Ob-la-di is one of the worst songs the Beatles ever recorded. So not a great example, but you get the point.

8. Oh, right, the single w/ bottom-side, for the record: (Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree / Patricia's Dream (Philips BF 1687).

9. Green underpants? This is the big plan? And what is the ethics of getting "beside" a girl who is "round the bend"? It's this sort of uneasiness in Wood's stuff that makes me love him.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mirage -- The Wedding of Ramona Blair

OK, it seems almost cheating to pull one of the great tracks off of the Rubble Collection for my first pick -- but how could I do otherwise? Besides, I imagine this blog is going to rely on Rubble a lot.

May I present Mirage with The Wedding of Ramona Blair:

Play MP3.

[MP3 is uploaded for a limited time at a gloriously degraded 64kbps to respect fair use guidelines for educational use of media]

The track was released as a Philips single (Philips 1571) in 1967, with 'Lazy Man' on the bottom side.

Here's 9 comments about it.

1. The line-up was Peter Hynes on the lead vocals, Pat Hynes on guitar, Dee Murray on bass/vocals, and David Hynes on drums/vocals. (Both Dee and Dave would later join the Spencer Davis Group, and David would head on to back Elton John, along with fellow psych-popper Caleb Quaye).

2. The song was written by David Hynes.

3. Like much of the "observational" sike genre, it uses character names to imbue a sense of particularness, and it puts it right in the title (not "The Wedding", but "The Wedding of Ramona Blair")

4. To stick with the title for a minute, it's titled the "The Wedding of Ramona Blair" which is also a neat bit of irony -- the whole point is there is no wedding at The Wedding of Ramona Blair, as the groom stands her up.

5. The plot is pretty thin: Ramona goes to sleep, wakes up the next morning, gets ready for her wedding, and waits for a groom that stands her up. And the unnamed narrator repeats that it's "nice to see Ramona in prayer / give an occasional stare / at the door". So really not much happens. But a lot of the beauty of the song is its lack of motion, the guests and her frozen in this thing. Everything from the unresolved chord the organ hangs on at the end of each verse to the waiting while looking at the door, to the static title, to the hanging unrhymed line the refrain ends with keeps us in the same place, waiting.

6. The lyrics don't seem to be anywhere on the interwebs, so here they are:

In a cozy bed,
Ramona dreams
of the very next day.

Going round her head,
The sound of her brother next door
saying his prayers.

When the morning came,
Ramona tried
on her very best face.

But she looked the same.
She sighed
and carried on sewing her lace.

People came,
But the groom he wasn't there.
At the Wedding of Ramona Blair.
It was nice
To see Ramona in prayer
Give an occasional stare
at the door.

In the bridal gown,
Ramona cried
on the very new bed.

She was on her own,
on the very same day

As the wedding bells
They rang
But the groom he wasn't there.
At the Wedding of Ramona Blair.
It was nice
To see Ramona in prayer
Give an occasional stare
at the door.

7. There's something neat the refrain does here -- the song's verses break into two sections -- one detailing Ramona before the wedding, one detailing her crying afterwards. And after both of them we get the refrain. After the first verse the refrain moves us forward in the story. But after the second it moves us, Tarantino style, backwards to that pivotal moment where she is waiting and all is in stasis. And that's where the song ends, with her trying to look like she is praying, but glancing at the door as time passes.

8. What does it all mean? Not much, which is really the genius of this genre. The only interpretation we get is the odd "It was nice / to see Ramona in prayer / give an occasional stare / at the door." Nice? Really? Who's voice is this telling the story, and how dense are they?

9. I'm rambling on about this but will try to do that less in future posts....i just have a lot of thoughts backed up here...