Category Archives: Music

Day Crab Crab Day Day Crab Crab Day

Ever wonder what a music video might look like if John Waters and David Lynch co-directed it? And what if the music they fixed in visual narrative were a brilliant 11-1/2 minute instrumental that evokes the likes of Stereolab, Tom Waits, and My Bloody Valentine? If you have any interest in seeing what the confluence of ideas and sounds swirling outta the minds and speakers of these folks and bands might look like, look no further than the title track on Cate Le Bon’s fourth album, Crab Day (April 2016). Shot in Berlin and directed by the intriguing English-born / Berlin-based artist and filmmaker, Phil Collins (no, not Sussudio!), this video is at once absurd and mesmerizing, compelling and awkward. I wish it were longer. This is 11-1/2 minutes of Dadaist joy! The rest of album is pretty great, too.

’bout as good as it gets

Maybe one of these days someone from the EMP community will post a proper retrospective of Prince — a big task, no doubt. In lieu of that, for now, here’s the original version and a much more recent live version of “When You Were Mine.” To my mind, easily one of his finest songs.

Lou Reed & the What Game

loureed

R.I.P. Lou Highness

Over a decade ago, a small band of good-time Charlies (some might have called them ne’er-do-wells) gathered in a private residence in Bigcity USA. There wasn’t anything special that brought them together that night. Just for kicks, to shoot the breeze, and to listen to music, probably a prelude to a longer night bouncing throughout some of Bigcity’s lively neighborhoods. Whatever the case, one aspect of the evening to this day has lived on quite clearly: one of the revelers introduced the idea of playing the What Game. This proposition wasn’t new to the group, but the game wasn’t a frequent thing for them either. Everyone capitulated eventually, the game commenced, and it lasted a while. For those readers who don’t know the What Game, it’s a simple word game meant to evoke laughter and sometimes, given the right stimuli and wordsmithery, tremendously contagious silliness. Players collect two small stacks of scrap-paper. On one stack they write questions that begin with the interrogative, “What,” which they then fold up and put into a bowl.  On the other stack, players write short random answers to questions that begin with the question-word, “What.” what-hiThe answers then go into another bowl. One by one, players take turns drawing a random question from one bowl followed by a random answer from the other bowl. À la Mad Libs, the questions and answers do not typically match up in a rational way, and often the absurdity of the questions and answers elicits a good deal of laughter. Now, returning to the evening with which this post began, legend has it that the What Game players in question were well into their second or third round, when someone drew the fated question: “What’s inside Bill’s pants?”What01 Continue reading

Come together, right now

I’ve always loved the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover (and the music on the album is pretty incredible as well).  Beatles_-_Abbey_RoadJust the other day, I learned about a live webcam outside Abbey Road Studios in London that records the very same pedestrian crosswalk seen on the album cover, 24hrs a day, 7days a week. I looked it up. And I gotta say, it’s incredible! I’ve been right there at that spot — not on foot, but while on board a bus, and I recall the bus having to stop while some blokes lined up like George, Paul, Ringo, and John for a photo. After only 4mins of watching the live webcam, I saw three cars suddenly having to stop for folks lining up to pose for pictures. Honking ensued, naturally. It’s a terrific idea, really, which creatively serves as a testament to the mind-boggling genius and artistry of the Beatles. That so many people still visit this spot to recreate an image (not the music) of these four guys, so many years after they’ve stopped making music and global headlines, is really something to ponder. Here’s the webcam link:

http://www.abbeyroad.com/crossing

While looking around for some images for this post, I found lots and lots that I liked. Such as this one of the Beatles sitting on a stoop. Looks like George has the others enthralled in a good story, perhaps about his latest visit to Rishikesh or a recent lesson on the sitar. But even better than this, is another photo I found of Mr. Paul Cole. He’s apparently the guy standing in the background on the original album cover next to the black police car on the right side of the road, between Ringo and John. I wonder who originally tracked him down?  Abbey-Road-Cover-Beatles-05Paul-Cole-Abbey-RoadAccording to the blog BuzzFeed Music, Mr. Cole didn’t even like the Beatles: “He thought they were just 4 ‘kooks.'”

Florida’s TCPalm online paper published the following interesting and funny piece about Mr. Cole in 2008 after he died. Continue reading

One from Solid Sound

The_Replacements_-_Hootenanny_coverThis short cut alone would have made the weekend at Wilco’s Solid Sound Fest at Mass MoCA a success. Check it out, that’s Tommy Stinson with Wilco playing “Color Me Impressed” from the Replacements’ 1982 classic, Hootenanny.

Man o man, this song evokes some wild memories from many moons ago….apparently at Solid Sound Wilco played a slew of covers from some other great bands and artists, including VU, the Kinks, the Beatles, Neil Young, the Modern Lovers, Nick Lowe, Blue Oyster Cult, Daft Punk, and many more. Continue reading

Saturday in the park…

“…people talking, people laughing, a man selling ice cream, singing Italian songs…” [skrrrraaa-tccchhhh] Lift the needle on the turntable, there’s no need to continue down this golden oldie path from 1972 paved with the lilting sounds of Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera. People weren’t singing Italian songs, but were speaking in French. And it wasn’t the fourth of July. It was the twenty-fifth of May, and I got stuck in a fierce and windy rain walking through the Jardin du Luxembourg. But it was Saturday, and I was in a park. Can you dig it? Yes you can…

Like the countless other people who were in the same predicament I was in, I took cover under a collection of trees, most of which are by now bushy with lots of leaf-coverage and providing some respite from the numerous spring rains in Paris. After ten minutes loitering under some trees on the westside, admiring  two tennis players play through the torrent, I darted across the garden, in front of the senate building and the soaking wet security guards, with my umbrella flipping inside-out repeatedly, until I got to the eastside.

There, I cosied up to another group of people who were waiting out the rain, when I noticed a group of people gathering around a nearby gazebo. I checked it out, and discovered an orchestra tuning up for a concert. It was cold, about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and still raining. Nevertheless folks of all ages were there, umbrellas in hand, waiting for the music.

In an ironic gesture to the winter-like weather enveloping Paris right now, I expected to hear Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps (in any case, the song is ubiquitous in this city in the springtime, written as it was for the 1913 Paris season of S. Diaghilev’s “Ballets Russes” dance company).

It turns out, however, the orchestra was short a few players. They were waiting on a trombonist, whom I saw hurriedly arrive by bus, and a couple other players (of which instruments, I don’t know). I couldn’t wait around to see the show unfortunately. But I was able to capture a few minutes of the players warming up and the conductor checking the tune of each section of his team. I actually enjoy this part of a symphony quite a lot, almost as much as the performance itself: all of the players blurting out sounds discordantly, and yet it’s never painful or irritating to hear. It’s especially satisfying when, after listening to the musicians tuning up individually, a collective silence abruptly descends on the group, and then the formal start of the first piece commences; the conductor’s carriage becomes composed, determined, and decidedly indicative; sonic discordance becomes congruous and harmonious music. It’s magical, really.

In the end, I caught only the warm up. So I neither saw nor heard the transition to the musical score. I don’t even know what program the distinguished looking group eventually played. But perhaps you’ll enjoy this critical prelude to the show as much as I did.