Monday, August 12, 2013

#706: The right time

I've had Booker T and the MG's "Time is Tight" stuck in my head ever since I heard it for the first time in years on SOUND OPINIONS over a week ago. Can't shake it.
With work and road trips and waking up at home, here's some of what else I've been listening to lately:

Guess Who -- Rain Dance, Albert Flasher.
Move -- Message From the Country, Do Ya?, Tonight, Chinatown.
Jam -- That's Entertainment, Funeral Pyre, Strange Town, Down in the Tube Station at Midnight.
Hatfield and the North -- THE ROTTERS CLUB: Share It, Lounging There Trying, Big John Wayne Socks Psychology on the Jaw, Chaos at the Greasy Spoon, The Yes No Interlude, Fitter Stoke Has a Bath, Didn't Matter Anyway, Underdub, Mumps: Your Majesty is Like a Cream Donut (quiet)/Lumps/Prenut/Your Majesty is Like a Cream Donut (loud), Big John Wayne (live), Chaos at the Greasy Spoon (live), Halfway Between Heaven and Earth (live), Oh Len's Nature (live), Lying and Gracing (live).
Cat Power -- He War, Speak for Me.
Kirsty MacColl -- Free World.
Church -- Reptile.
Keane -- Somewhere Only We Know, This is the Last Time, Bend and Break, Your Eyes Open.
Pete Townshend -- A Little is Enough, Sheraton Gibson, Now and Then, Slit Skirts, Let's See Action, Empty Glass.
Todd Rundgren -- We Gotta Get You a Woman, I Saw the Light, Hello It's Me, Couldn't I Just Tell You?, Just One Victory, A Dream Goes on Forever, Real Man.
Journey -- Lights, Feeling That Way/Anytime, Patiently, Something to Hide.

Most of this is the same old stuff, though I hadn't heard "Albert Flasher" in over 40 years. The lyrics are REALLY silly -- proving again that it sometimes isn't what's said in a song so much as the way it's said & the rhythm and music that goes with it.
THE ROTTERS CLUB was Hatfield and the North's second album, from 1975 -- and I remember being disappointed with these guys Back When because they weren't as instantly-melodic as Caravan. Their (First Album) struck me as too complicated, with the continuous, intertwining side-long suites being a little short on memorable tunes. OK background music, but nothing to devote your life to.
I grabbed a cheap CD copy of ROTTERS CLUB a couple years ago & thought it was above-average at the time, but again nothing earthshaking.
Maybe it was just waiting for the right time to be heard.
Waking up last Friday morning alone in my own bed after running my ass off pricing & stocking a beer order at work the night before, out of the blue I put ROTTERS CLUB on while waking up. And overall it's really good waking-up music, light and melodic. It's always good to hear Richard Sinclair's singing, & the band's loopy non-sequiter lyrics keep things nice and silly.
There's some nice flute from Jimmy Hastings on "Didn't Matter Anyway" -- it could almost be Caravan. I've always thought "Fitter Stoke Has a Bath" was faintly sad -- there's an air of disappointment about it. "The Yes No Interlude" is sort of chaotic commuting music.
The rest of the album features Dave Stewart's sometimes-atonal organ, here toned-down a bit (maybe I'm getting used to it), Phil Miller's sometimes-jagged guitar (also muted a bit), & the lighter-than-air backing vocals from the Northettes. The best of this stuff sounds closer to National Health (which the Hatfields sort of morphed into), with their trademarked sound of the organ and guitar figures overlaid by the Northettes' airy vocals.
The big attraction here is "Mumps," the Hatfields' magnum opus, which winds through more than 20 minutes of subtle interplay, and it's worth it. The closing "Cream Donut (loud)" repeats the distinctive organ-led melody from the opening, though with more energy, and it's great to hear it again after the preceding 20 minutes -- even though this reprise doesn't go on long enough. Parts of this almost sound like Renaissance, no putdown intended.
The live tracks are a slightly different story: Hatfield live could apparently be a real monster, swinging with almost-Caravan-style riffing. Good stuff.
Of the other above tunes, I catch more and more of The Jam's "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight" with each listening. It was clear from the first time through why Paul Weller didn't want to go down there, but more details keep popping out at me with each listen.
I think Cat Power's "He War" is really great, but it's over with too quick, & I wish something else from her YOU ARE FREE album was as compelling. "Speak for Me" is close, but after that it's a big drop off....

...Hey, one of our Regulars at the gas station walked in a few nights ago wearing an Island Records 45 T-shirt. At first I didn't realize what I was looking at. Then when the lightbulb went on over my head, I about fell off the counter!
The shirt showed an old vinyl single with the green-and-white palm-tree design of the record company's logo, and was actually a sales pitch for Island's reggae artists. There were name-checks for Bob Marley and the Wailers, Toots and the Maytals, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and half a dozen more. A very cool fashion item, and probably a collector's item to boot.
The wearer said he was a sucker for the reggae stuff, and we kicked around that Island was very much the place to be for British artists in the late '60s and early '70s ... although the only other folks on the label that we could think of right then were all white Brits (Fairport Convention, Cat Stevens, Spooky Tooth, Free, Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, etc).
Probably the first time I've admired someone else's T-shirt in a LONG time....

No comments: