Friday, January 27, 2012

#521: "That's Entertainment"

The snow & rain R over with here, 4 now. Instead, it's just freaking cold. Great hibernating weather. Can't I just sleep til April? Or May?

Spinners -- It's a Shame, I'll Be Around, How Could I Let You Get Away?, Could it be I'm Falling in Love?, I Could Never Repay Your Love, One of a Kind Love Affair, Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You, Ghetto Child, Mighty Love, I'm Coming Home.
Left Banke -- Pretty Ballerina, She May Call You Up Tonight, Barters and Their Wives, I've Got Something On My Mind, Let Go of You Girl, Evening Gown, Walk Away Renee, What Do You Know?
Louis Jordan -- THE BEST OF: Choo Choo Ch'Boogie, Let the Good Times Roll, Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens, Saturday Night Fish Fry, Beware, Caldonia, Knock Me a Kiss, Run Joe, School Days (When We Were Kids), Blue Light Boogie, Five Guys Named Moe, What's the Use of Gettin' Sober (When You Gonna Get Drunk Again)?, Buzz Me Blues, Beans and Cornbread, Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying, Somebody Done Changed the Lock on My Door, Barnyard Boogie.
Doobie Brothers -- Sweet Maxine, Neal's Fandango.
B-52's -- TIME CAPSULE best-of: Planet Claire, 52 Girls, Rock Lobster, Party Out of Bounds, Strobelight, Private Idaho, Quiche Lorraine, Mesopotamia, Song for a Future Generation, Summer of Love, Channel Z, Deadbeat Club, Love Shack, Roam, Good Stuff, Is That You Mo-Dean?
The Jam -- THE VERY BEST OF: All Around the World, The Modern World, News of the World, David Watts, A-Bomb in Wardour Street, Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, Strange Town, When You're Young, Eton Rifles, Going Underground, The Dreams of Children, Start!, That's Entertainment, Funeral Pyre, Absolute Beginners, Town Called Malice, Precious, Just Who is the 5 O'Clock Hero?, The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow), Beat Surrender.

HIT & RUN: We've got a lot 2 cover here, so this is gonna havta B fast (hopefully). Hold tight on the curves.
Wanted 2 start this marathon session slowly, so pulled out the Spinners. I'm a sucker 4 early-'70s Soul. All the hits still sound great, especially "I'll Be Around" & "I'm Coming Home." I heard "Could it be I'm Falling in Love?" on the radio last week 4 the 1st time in awhile, & it still holds up.
Summa the stuff included here (from Rhino/Atlantic's DEFINITIVE COLLECTION) is intresting mainly 4 its off-the-track-ness: "I Could Never Repay Your Love" is a long vocal solo with the spotlight on main vocalist Philippe Wynne. "Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You" has a very glitzy Vegas-y big-band-style arrangement. "Ghetto Child" is pretty heavily orchestrated 4 what was supposed 2 have been a tough inner-city tale. Yvette Davis's lyrics on "How Could I Let You Get Away" R kind of a mystery. The singing thruout all this is Xcellent, of course....
Left Banke's "She May Call You Up Tonight" is classic mid-'60s pop, an overlooked treasure with an Xcellent Steve Martin vocal (not the actor/comic) & lots of the harpsichord Michael Brown liked 2 use. If you like this kinda stuff, I urge you 2 track this 1 down. My only complaint is it's TOO SHORT. "I've Got Something on My Mind" is another classic (the B-side 2 the magnificent flop "Desiree"), & the lyrics R pretty advanced 4 1966. The brief "Evening Gown" is a throwaway, just a little 2 thin. "Pretty Ballerina" & "Walk Away Renee" both still sound great. But "What Do You Know?" is Xcessively-twangy COUNTRY, without a harpsichord in sight. All from ALL THE SMASH HITS.
Louis Jordan's BEST OF is a collection of jump-blues jive tunes from 1941 thru 1954, some of which you've probly heard even if you think you haven't -- some of it's bn used in commercials & TV spots. The best of it sounds like the Marx Brothers locked in a recording studio -- hilarious & upbeat with great funny vocals & Xcellent sax.
"Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" has silly lyrics & great horns. The hilarious 5-minute "Saturday Night Fish Fry" has a funny story + great piano ... & GUITAR! "Beware" has some hilarious advice 4 dating-age men. "Knock Me a Kiss" sounds a little dated -- like it was mastered directly off an old 78. "Five Guys Named Moe" really moves & has great sax 2 go with the silly lyrics. You've probly heard "Beans and Cornbread." But the real masterpiece here is "Barnyard Boogie," a work of genius with a fast pace, spacey guitar, & a 1st 1/2 completely made up of silly animal noises....
I'm a sucker 4 the Doobies' "Neal's Fandango," which coulda gone on 4 another 10 mins & I woulda bn happy. Don't know why they rushed the recording -- it had all the makings of a hit, but it cuts off 2 abruptly. "Sweet Maxine" seems kinda muddy & bass-heavy -- cleaned-up it mighta worked. Both from STAMPEDE.
Xcept 4 "Roam" -- which I think is the greatest Go-Go's impersonation of all time -- the B-52's never did much 4 me. Mosta the stuff on their TIME CAPSULE best-of still didn't grab me -- maybe they hadta get less silly B4 I could relate, or maybe they just had 2 learn how 2 write a hook. Generally, I think the band got better, stronger, poppier, more memorable as they went along.
"Planet Claire" has a "Peter Gunn"-like riff & spacey B-movie sci-fi lyrics -- which I understand was sorta an obsession 4 these folks. The vocals on "52 Girls" Rn't unlike Florence + the Machine, 2 go along with the '60s/surf gtr. "Strobelight" is at least funny. By the time of "Private Idaho," Kate Pierson & Cindy Wilson's backing vocals R getting better -- the band gets better the more often the girls sing. "Deadbeat Club" is nostalgic & has gorgeous girl-vocals. "Love Shack" was just silly fun, of course. & "Roam" is still just awesome. "Good Stuff" has great group-vocal choruses, & "Is That You Mo-Dean?" finally realizes all the band's B-movie/sci-fi aspirations.
Never heard much by The Jam beyond their 90-percent-brilliant punk concept album SETTING SONS, where every single song is worth hearing over&over -- Xcept 4 the WORST version of "Heat Wave" that you'll ever hear. Hoped 4 more greats on their VERY BEST OF, & found a few....
On their early singles, The Jam came across as angry young punks, with nasal vocals that sound like the Sex Pistols meets the Ramones, & punchy songs about "the youth explosion." But these Jammers learned what they were good at fast: "News of the World" has some good gtr, & the vocal harmonies R stronger. "David Watts" is a decent cover of the old Kinks song -- with added piano!
Producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven joins 4 "A-Bomb in Wardour Street," & suddenly The Jam have lots more bass & a WAY bigger presence. "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" is about getting beaten up in the subway -- & main songwriter Paul Weller's lyrics R very strong on how it felt, looked, smelled. EZ 2 C why he doesn't wanna go back down there again.
"Strange Town" is 1 of 2 trax from SETTING SONS (the Xcellent "Eton Rifles" is the other). "Strange Town" is diffrent from the rest of that album Bcos it's funny. It's a tale of alienation in the big city -- literally: Weller sez he's "really a spacer from those UFO's." It's punchy, there's great gtr, & the choruses R hilarious. "Eton Rifles" is also superb, with Xcellent angry lyrics, catchy choruses -- & organ!
"Going Underground" has some Xcellent lyrics about not understanding what society wants. "Start!" has more good gtr & nice vocal harmonies. "Funeral Pyre" is grim enuf that it coulda bn included on SETTING SONS -- that is not a criticism. It's powerful. But the real masterpiece here is "That's Entertainment," a low-key, bitter, all-acoustic classic.
The rest is OK -- Motown touches on "Town Called Malice" & "Precious," horns on "5 O'Clock Hero," female backing vocals on "Beat Surrender" -- but it's all aftermath 2 me. These guys really shoulda sold more records in the US. Maybe they were just TOO English?

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