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Archive for the ‘Downloads’ Category

Girl Power

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OK, show of hands. How many of you own One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found?

*shakes head*

As you may be able to guess from the title, this is a four disc box set of singles from various 60s girl groups. And it is simply amazing in every way possible. This is a pure, undiluted, example of everything that has ever been right about pop music. Seriously, unless your some cold hearted adult grown up, this box set will cause uncontrollable dancing, singing along, and improvised dance steps. It is worth every penny.

The only possible downside to the album is the refusal of Phil Spector to allow any of his work to be included (officially, this is because he has his own box set. Unofficially, I just think he’s an egotistical prick. Unfortunately, he’s also a genius).

While this could have been a huge downer, in the end it doesn’t really take away anything from the overall collection (take that Phil!). A lot of this has to do with the fact that the woman who put this collection together is a record geek who specializes in this very type of music. (Side note to record labels: hire geeks to manage your retrospective box set collections. You’ll get quality work) Meaning that while you get some obvious choices, there is also surely to be a plethora of groups here that you never even knew existed. And their tracks are awesome!

So, in short. This collection is a perfect jumping off point for the person looking to dig deeper into one of the greatest eras of modern pop. It is also a perfect collection for the passing fan, who just wants to make sure their record collection properly represents one of the greatest eras of modern pop.

And now, for those who are paying attention. Two downloads for you.

The first is Nothing But A Heartache by the Flirtations. A great track that I knew I had to throw up as soon as I heard it on the way into work in the morning.

The second is You Don’t Know by Ellie Greenwich. This track is for the Wrock fans, specifically the Hermonie/Harry shippers. That was the first thing that popped in my head when I heard this track. Just listen to it and pretend its Hermonie singing it to Harry about Ginny. Some Wrock group needs to cover this.

OK, I need to be in bed (fracking work). I felt the need to get this off though, so here you go.

Written by Matt

March 13th, 2007 at 9:17 pm

Goodbye To Love

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Artist: American Music Club
Track: Goodbye To Love
Album: If I Were a Carpenter

My earliest memory of listening to music is sitting in the back seat of the family station wagon on a Sunday afternoon drive, staring out the window while we listened to my mom’s tapes. My dad has always been more of a Johnny Cash/Kingston Trio kind of guy. Mom on the other hand has a sweet tooth for pop music. And since we’re talking about a late 70s/early 80s time frame, that means a lot of things like the Carpenters, Carol King, Neil Diamond, and similar artists, with a healthy dose of 60s Motown and similar r&b tracks.

To say that I love this kind of music is to understate the situation. I lived on this stuff in my youth (another early memory is of listening to some Linda Ronstadt song over and over and over again. My mom had it on vinyl and it was the first track on one of the sides. I’d just drop the needle in the groove, listen to the song, then pick the needle up and drop it back at the beginning. I really should see if my mom has any idea which album that was). This kind of music is hardwired into my being. When it comes on, I have an emotional response to it. Way to subconscious for words like ‘like’ or even ‘love’. I listen to this music and I’m over come with feelings of warmth, safety, and love. In other words, everything music should be. (seriously, if you can’t at least partially identify with what I’m talking about, or even worse, mock what I’ve just said, there’s just something missing from your life)

The above track is a cover of a Carpenters song, off a compilation of people covering Carpenters tracks. And honestly? AMC fracking owns this track. The original song is a sad tune that may make you sigh if you’re in the right mood. The AMC version has you reaching for the bottle with one hand and a box of razor blades with the other. Which really isn’t surprising when you think about it. A friend once described a Mark Eitzel (the band’s song writer and singer) solo show as the most depressing songs you’ve ever heard in your life, interspersed with some of the funniest stage banter you’ve ever heard. AMC isn’t a band you listen to when you want to feel happy. But, enough about the band, back to the track.

The first thing that hits when you listen to the track is Mark’s voice. And that continues through out the rest of the track. The music is what happens around Mark’s voice. It is his voice that pulls you along through the track. This makes it more difficult to escape the lyrics. Which are made even more depressing by the matter of fact tone in Mark’s voice when he sings lines like “no one ever cared if I should live or die/time and time again/the chance for love has passed me by/and the only thing I know of love/is how to live with out/just can’t seem to find it”

The AMC version of this song isn’t a play for pity, it is just a matter of fact statement of the truth. Even the closing lines of the song, (what lies in the future is a mystery to us all/no one can predict the wheel of fortune as it falls/there may come a time/when I see that I’ve been wrong/but for now this is my song) surely intended to lighten the mood a little and provide some hope to a dreary song, doesn’t carry enough conviction to instill a sense of hope in the listener.

While Mark’s voice plays center stage to the track, the music itself is nothing to shy away from either. With an arrangement that starts out sparse, focused mainly on the piano (and occasional organ flourishes) and drums, the song builds to a crescendo that provides a counter point to the vocals. The string section of the original is replaced by a peddle steel, providing the necessary accents with out ever having the tacked on feel that strings tend to get. And Vudi provides the guitar flourishes that have always been part of AMC’s unique sound. The whole of the arrangement has an organic feel which blends perfectly with the voice.

Of course, all of this talk about vocals and arrangements belies a simple core fact known by anyone who is at least remotely familiar with AMC’s back catalog. They can write a damn good song. Mark’s has received many accolades for his gift as a song writer, but it isn’t surprising that his best work is usually sited as the work he’s done with AMC. And the fact that the band is capable of writing such amazing original songs, allows them to fully inhabit this track. There is no novelty here. There is no ‘look at the post-punk [or whatever you would call AMC] band doing a cheesy 70s song.’ AMC recognized the core elements of the song that made it a great song, and then put their own spin on them. The finished product can stand up to most of the band’s original catalog, and that is a testament to just how well this band knows their craft.

Written by Matt

February 15th, 2007 at 9:39 pm

Posted in Downloads,pop

Bringing an end to the Standing Still

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Artist: The Dismemberment Plan
Track: Do The Standing Still
Album: Is Terrified (scroll down)

As I mentioned before I’ve been reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Dancing In The Streets. The book deals with the effects of losing early carnival/festival type celebrations (with the music, dancing, masking/costuming, etc.) on western culture. It’s proven to be an extremely fascinating book and I highly recommend it to everyone. You can get a better idea of what the book is about by checking out this article.

I’m nearing the end of the book, and I’ve just started reading the chapter on the rock and roll rebellion of the 50s and 60s. I came across this paragraph and thought of the above song by the D-Plan. Do The Standing Still was written as a jab at the annoying habit of hipsters to simply stand there at shows, with arms crossed, showing no emotion. This favorite little non-dance move is still popular among many people, but it is slowly starting to crack a little bit. Now, the hipsters are swaying now and then. The hope is that one day hipsters will learn to move their arms, but it will likely take a lot more work.

Anyways, time to stop picking on the hipsters. Here’s the quote,

Rock struck with such force, in the 1950s and early 1960s, because the white world it entered was frozen over and brittle–not only physically immobilizing but emotionally restrained. In pre-rock middle-class teenage culture, for example, the requisite stance was cool, with the word connoting not just generic approval, as it does today, but a kind of aloofness, emotional affectlessness, and sense of superiority. Rock, with its demands for immediate and unguarded physical participation, thawed the coolness, summoned the body into action, and blasted the mind out of the isolation and guardedness that had come to define the Western personality. To the Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, white rock fans were simply trying to reclaim “their Bodies again after generations of alienation and disembodied existence.”

They were swinging and gyrating and shaking their dead little asses like petrified zombies trying to regain the warmth of life, rekindle the dead limbs, the cold ass, the stone heart, the stiff, mechanical, disused joints with the spark of life

Written by Matt

February 9th, 2007 at 10:18 pm

Posted in Downloads

A little surprise

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OK, we’re going to try a little experiment here. The below link leads to a track that I’ve uploaded to sendspace.com They don’t make the link horribly easy to find unfortunately, but it is under the Google Ads where the flashing arrow is. Let me know what you think of the whole process. Including if you know of any better sources. I’m also looking at yousendit.com, but I thought I’d try these guys first since they offer a little more space.

So, the first track. This one is dedicated to Church Hates Trucker since I’m pretty sure he’s the guy from Baltimore that keeps popping up in my logs*. Let’s see how cool he is by seeing if he gets this reference.

The first song is, “Mary doing Dundalk

For the rest of you, here you go…

Artist: Mary Prankster
Song: Blue Skies Over Dundalk
From the album Blue Skies Over Dundalk, which can now be found as part of Blue Skies Forever, which combines Blue Skies Over Dundalk with the old Mata Hari cassette (which I think I still have somewhere, so go me!)

During the 90s, Mary Prankster was part of the scene revolving around Fowl Records. When she started out Mary was just a girl from Annapolis MD with an acoustic guitar and a filthy mouth. With this album, her first, she moved up to a full blown three/four piece band and went electric.

I’ve saw Mary twice. Once, before this album, so back when it was just her, opening for Baltimore natives the Kelly Bell Band in the ballroom at UMBC, where I went to school. The second time was opening for another Baltimore band, Lake Trout, at the 930 club in DC.

My only memories of the first show was that her set was fun. There’s a playful tongue in cheek silliness to her music that just really works in a setting like that. In fact, I remember when word started leaking out that she was going to be playing with a band after the album came out, there was some trepidation about whether it would work. Then again, this was basically the same period when Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, the band at the center of Fowl Records, signed to Elton John’s Rocket Records. And the local institution of the All Mighty Senators “broke up” for about a month. (I put broke up in quotes because I never did find out if the news item on their web site announcing the break up was legit, or just sour grapes when their old bassist left the group) So there were a lot of questions about the future of the central MD music scene at the time.

The second time I saw Mary was with the band. They did a 30 minute set and I remember thinking about a quote I’d seen somewhere about early Ramones shows. The quote was something about them doing 30 minute sets and how it was perfect. How you didn’t want another minute of music, because you were completely satisfied with what you had just gotten. That’s the way I felt after that Mary set. Yeah, she could have played a couple more tracks and I probably would have dug them as well, but she didn’t need to. Thirty minutes satiated my appetite.

Unfortunately, that was the last time I saw Mary. She hung up the Mary Prankster alter ego years ago and supposedly moved to NYC.

I was listening to this album this morning on my drive into work. Its been years since it came out, and I still pull it out now and then and listen to it. One of the few records from that time period where that is true. The album isn’t revolutionary, in music or lyrics. It is fun though, a lot of fun. Which is why I picked this track. I’ve found that this track is incredibly fun to sing a long to with a fake opera style voice. Give it a shot.

BTW, Dundalk is a town right outside Baltimore, MD. There are a bunch of Baltimore references in the song, Cal Ripken‘s streak, which was still going at the time, The Ravens, the Baltimore accent, and Natty Boh. Hopefully they’ll work for those of you who don’t naturally stress the second ‘Oh’ in the Star Spangled Banner. (honestly, I think I was about 10 before I found out that wasn’t just the way the song was supposed to be sung. Its a tradition at Orioles’ (the “O’s”) games, and I just thought everyone sung it that way)

Hope you enjoy

* if I’m wrong, then this track is dedicated to Church (cause I’m not going to take that away from him) and who ever the person in Baltimore is who reads this site. Oh, and my brother, for being smart enough to stay away from DC after he graduated from Towson. (family of five, and I’m the only one who hasn’t escaped DC’s pull yet)

Written by Matt

February 9th, 2007 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Downloads,pop