Archive for Tongue and Groove

Starting something

Texarkana Baby by Eddy ArnoldEddy Arnold’s “Texarkana Baby” was not a big hit, appearing on neither pop nor country charts. It was issued on RCA Victor 20-2806 in 1948 on a black-label 78. But the following spring, RCA reissued it on green vinyl, assigning it the auspicious catalog number 48-0001. This was the very first 45-rpm record available to the public, and RCA was anxious to make them look nothing like the black shellac of the 78s, or the equally black “Lp” record put out by archrival Columbia. Hence green, for all the country issues: orange, for RCA’s occasional forays into rhythm and blues; yellow, for the kids.

The problem was that oversized hole in the middle. It worked perfectly well with RCA’s Victrola record player, which you could plug into the back of your RCA television set. (Before you ask: yes, they used RCA plugs and jacks.) And the Victrola, as designed, would not play any of those pesky Columbia Lps. But David Sarnoff, bless him, figured out that eventually they’d have to do a long-play disc of their own — classical music four minutes at a time on 45s was no less annoying than it had been on stacks of 78s — and further, that he might want to sell 45s to people with those tiny little spindles made by other manufacturers. And so General Sarnoff (he wore a single star in the Signal Corps) ordered one Thomas Hutchison to come up with a solution.

45 rpm adapterAnd Hutchison delivered, coming up with an inexpensive little plastic doohickey that would snap inside the enlarged 45 hole and fit neatly on the smaller spindle, making multi-speed turntables almost inevitable. The spider, as it was sometimes called, did not catch on in much of the rest of the world; instead, they pressed small-hole 45s from which the center section could be punched out if necessary.

Still, the 78 refused to go quietly: EMI was issuing Beatles 78s in India as late as 1968, and R. Crumb (yes, that R. Crumb) and his Cheap Suit Serenaders, while they recorded their LPs at 331/3 like everyone else, put out singles at 78 rpm into the 1980s.

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Cortez the killer organist

I have yet to find out why David Clowney Cortez was billed as “Baby,” though I suspect it had something to do with a couple of doo-wop songs on which he actually sang; most of the time he was behind the keyboard. In 1958, he scored the first-ever instrumental #1 on Billboard’s new unified Hot 100 chart with “The Happy Organ,” so big that mighty RCA Victor put out a whole album of Cortez, licensing the single from tiny Clock Records. Several smaller hits followed, and then in 1962 another monster: “Rinky Dink,” which married the instrumental break from “Shop Around” to the guitar lick from “Love Is Strange.”

What was believed to be the last Cortez album came out in 1972. But a mere 39 years later, Dave resurfaced with Lonnie Youngblood and his Bloodhounds for an 11-track album on Norton Records. The lead track, “The Lemon Drop,” is definitely of a piece with Dave’s earlier work:

Cortez was 73 when this came out. He’s still out there.

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Keep your head to the sky

And yet another of the greats ascends to the next level:

Maurice White, the founder and leader of Earth, Wind & Fire, has died at home in Los Angeles, said his brother Verdine White. He was 74.

A former session drummer, White founded Earth, Wind & Fire in the late 1960s. The group went on to sell more than 90 million albums worldwide, displaying a flashy and eclectic musical style that incorporated his influences from growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, and working at the influential Chicago music labels Chess and Okeh.

EWF was practically everywhere in the 1970s: you couldn’t avoid them if you wanted to, and why in the world would you have wanted to? I got tuned in circa 1973, with the Head to the Sky album, which still delights me today.

But White went back farther than that. From his days as a studio musician, we have here the supersized version of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” as trilled by the late Billy Stewart, and on the kit off to the right, Maurice White playing like the greatest drummer ever to work out of Chicago.

Head to the Sky led off with a lovely little number called “Evil,” which was in fact a reworking of “Bad Tune,” off EWF’s very first (and eponymous!) album in 1971, the sort of thing that might make you think that this was where Sly might have gone if he could have kept his head together.

Said Verdine of his brother:

“While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life changing transition in our lives. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.”

Amen to that.

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He’s just Hectoring her

The Oklahoma City Philharmonic, which will be working its way through Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique this weekend, put up this, um, item on the orchestra’s Facebook page:

Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's a symphony about me overdosing on opium and murdering you, so marry me maybe

Might fill some seats at that.

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He’s earned your vote

Even Glenn Reynolds says so.

Vote for Rick Astley

And a coda:

This is Rick Astley’s last single to date, released in 2010, which he cowrote with Andrew Frampton. (Astley’s 50th birthday is Saturday the 6th.)

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Buying the Water Works

This one might actually make you weep. The Piano Guys almost seamlessly blend Mozart’s “Lacrimosa” (from the Requiem, K. 626) with Adele’s “Hello”:

This was not easy, but there was common ground:

Both tunes’ divergent traits presented challenges. One wallows in a wide, painstakingly minor 12/8 time and the other drives a poignant bi-polar major/minor common time. One draws its power from the fullness of a grand chorus and orchestra, the other from the isolation of a lone voice and piano. One conforms to age-old counterpart canon and musical theory, while the other is conveyed via verse/chorus pop song parlance. However, they share the same fundamental feeling — “Lacrimosa” (meaning “weeping” or “tearful”) mournfully bemoans spiritual death, while “Hello” gripes about relationship regrets. Different centuries. Different realms. Same emotion. Perhaps we aren’t as far from our predecessors as we think we are.

We never have been.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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You ain’t seen nothing yeti

The Jonathan Richman/Modern Lovers studio recording of “Abominable Snowman in the Market” turned up on the shuffle yesterday, and it was so exasperatingly catchy I simply had to pass along some version of it. Ultimately, I opted for this live take from that wondrous year of 1976:

I’m not sure if this or “Lonely Financial Zone” is the weirder song. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

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And then there was 4

The lounge room in the dorm had a classic old-style console stereo, in which the furniture was arguably worth more than the audio componentry. Still, it could blast when we wanted it to blast, and one of the albums we blasted on a regular basis was the first album by Santana, the one that finished off with the fearsome “Soul Sacrifice,” a song the band had had the audacity to play at Woodstock before they’d ever put it on wax. I snagged a copy for myself, grabbed the next one (Abraxas) the day it came out, and waited intently for the third.

Santana IVAnd now, after all these years and lots of lineup changes, the original band brings us a fourth:

Santana will release their highly anticipated album Santana IV with the return of the band’s original lineup.

Carlos Santana (guitar, vocals), Gregg Rolie (keyboards, lead vocals), Neal Schon (guitar, vocals), Michael Carabello (percussion) and Michael Shrieve (drums) have come back together for the first time in 45 years to record what is, essentially, their follow-up to Santana, Abraxas and Santana III. All three of the original albums went two-times platinum while Abraxas achieved three-times.

Santana IV features 16 all-new tracks written and produced by the band that burst with the same unparalleled energy and musicianship that made Santana a pioneering force in world music and a household name across the globe. Joining the core band in the studio are current Santana members Karl Perazzo (percussion) and Benny Rietveld (bass), with the legendary vocalist Ronald Isley guesting on two cuts.

By jingo, I’m interested. And for the, um, record:

Santana IV will be released on April 15, on Santana IV Records and is distributed by Thirty Tigers/RED Distribution. It will be available for pre-order on Amazon in CD, Double 180 Gram Vinyl with Download Card and Digital configurations.

Already got the pre-order in.

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Never heard of you

I had fun putting this together, because not only had I never heard of her until yesterday, but her notability has been questioned by Wikipedians, meaning her entry is subject to deletion at any time.

With that in mind, meet Felicia Brandström, twenty-nine today:

Portrait of Felicia Brandström

Felicia Brandström up against the wall

What reputation she has, apparently, is based on her appearances on Idol 2006 in Sweden, in which she made it to the final four before being eliminated. Just about all of those appearances have been YouTubed, though, so let’s look at a couple of them. First, doing the Corrs’ “What Can I Do”:

But that’s not the performance that grabbed me. This is:

While Caesars’ original is fairly ubiquitous, having shown up in commercials, videogames, and what have you, I’ve never heard anyone else sing it. (And Caesars were a Swedish band, so it’s no surprise Brandström would have known it.)

She got to the Top Five on the strength of a couple of Motown covers, survived one more round, and then, well, bye, Felicia. I have no idea what’s happened to her in the nine years since. She has one credit in IMDb, for När karusellerna sover (“When the carousels sleep”), the 1998 installment of Sveriges Television’s Christmas Calendar, but after Idol, the trail ends.

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Not giving a flying feather

I admit to thinking this when the news came out about the passing of Glenn Frey — and where the hell are all our rock stars going this month? — but I was bumfuzzled to see it on the Fark article: “No, I said DON HENLEY must die.”

To explain:

Henley, bless him, actually joined Mojo on stage one night to sing this song — though somehow it ended up about Rick Astley.

Note: Some of you may recognize this title from an entirely different context. You may or may not want to read the comments on this piece from Strong Language, which contain, um, strong language.

As for Glenn Frey, I hope he’s happy in the afterlife, and they don’t hold this song against him.

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The medley lingers on

Why, of course you can do mashups of classical music. They might sound something like this:

I admit to being amused by the presence of the Star Wars Imperial March, and at exactly the right time, to boot.

Still, I can’t help thinking that Professor Peter Schickele was first.

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Facing the no longer strange

From almost fifty years ago, or so it seems, David Bowie responds to his first American fan letter:

From just yesterday, or so it seems, David Bowie responds to the world at large:

Rest well, Starman. You have earned your place in history.

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From some other time

There were two great eras of rock and roll pseudonyms. The later one was sustained mostly by punk bands, and featured names like Johnny Rotten and Rat Scabies and Poly Styrene and a whole handful of Ramones. The earlier one probably ended with Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr, but it featured names like Bobby Day and Bo Diddley and Del Shannon and Frankie Ford and, perhaps the most influential, not so much in music but in sheer nomenclature, was the late Troy Shondell, born Gary Wayne Schelton in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Shondell would have only one big hit, but it was a monster:

Sourced from Shondell’s official YouTube channel, this is (mostly) the original 1961 version, cut for infinitesimal Gaye Records, then issued on Goldcrest, a regional label distributed by Liberty; when it started gaining traction, Liberty reissued it themselves and watched it spend four months on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #6. I say “mostly” because the guitar solo in the middle was clumsily overdubbed long after the fact; the record as released had a piano break and nothing more.

Shondell’s last release for Liberty was “Na-Ne-No,” a Lloyd Price cover produced by Phil Spector, no less; after it went nowhere, he decamped for Nashville, where he cut a few sides for the TRX label, of which only “Let’s Go All the Way” managed to Bubble Under the Hot 100. The money, Shondell decided, was better on the publishing side, though he’d occasionally cut a side for the hell of it. The last one I know of, from 1981, was a cover of John Sebastian’s “Lovin’ You”.

In late 1964, a band from Illinois took the name The Shon-Dels, and self-released one single before changing their name to the Ides of March. An entirely different group of Shondels assembled in Winnipeg about the same time. But neither would be quite as successful as Tommy James’ Shondells from Michigan, originally the Tornadoes (not to be confused with Joe Meek’s British instrumental group), who would not be a factor on the charts until “Hanky Panky” in 1965, by which time they’d broken up. (James went on tour to support the record, and hired a bar band to be the new Shondells.)

As for Troy Shondell himself, he toured in 2001 in a show called “The Masters of Rock and Roll,” featuring some other wonderfully named guys like Ronnie Dove and Jimmy Clanton. He died last week of complications from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, two names that aren’t so wonderful.

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Dressed like a daydream

Taylor Swift explains “Blank Space” to GQ:

That is not my approach to relationships. But is it cool to write the narrative of a girl who’s crazy but seductive but glamorous but nuts but manipulative? That was the character I felt the media had written for me, and for a long time I felt hurt by it. I took it personally. But as time went by, I realized it was kind of hilarious.

So is Swift messing with her audience’s heads? Given the absurd variety of pictures of her one can find circulating on the Net, I think their heads will be messed with regardless of what she says.

Taylor Swift in a swimsuit

Taylor Swift in a writing mood

Taylor Swift gives you a peek

I’ve found it more useful to accept what she says at face value and leave it at that; it’s not like I want to know, or need to know, her innermost secrets or anything.

That said, Taylor Swift does keep her story straight. The making of “Blank Space,” live and unplugged:

And you’ll note it’s the same four chords she always uses: the high-dollar producers she hired were there mainly for their technological gloss. There’s something sort of comforting in that.

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You didn’t have me at Hello

So this happened:

Which prompted an experiment:

The genre I selected was “honky-tonk,” perhaps to increase the difficulty level, and YouTube sent up the following on that Thursday night:

“Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” (Trace Adkins)

“She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” (Kenny Chesney)

“Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” (Joe Nichols)

“As Good As I Once Was” (Toby Keith)

“I Love This Bar” (Toby Keith)

And then, noticing a third Toby Keith track in the queue, I abandoned the experiment.

This reminds me of Zooey Deschanel’s plaintive wail, nearly five years ago, to the effect that no matter what she started with, the iTunes Genius function would end up sending her something by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

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All about that platinum

Title by Meghan TrainorMeghan Trainor’s Title album has now moved a million:

Nearly a year after its release, Meghan Trainor’s album Title has surpassed 1 million copies sold. The singer’s debut full-length set, released Jan. 13, 2015 on Epic Records, sold another 14,000 in the week ending Dec. 31, raising its total sales to 1.007 million, according to Nielsen Music.

Thanks in part to its string of hit singles, Title has remained in the top 30 of the weekly Billboard 200 chart since its debut at No. 1 on the Jan. 31, 2015-dated list. This week (on the chart dated Jan. 16), it rises 22-19 (34,000 equivalent album units; down 13 percent).

That number-one debut displaced — wouldn’t you know it? — Taylor Swift’s 1989. And apart from those four hit singles, Title’s, um, title track, titled “Title,” reached the bottom of the chart purely on the strength of 32,000 downloads.

(If anyone cares, and there’s no reason why you should, I got mine on the 12th of February.)

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The queen of tragedy

For me, this began with a piece on TTAC about the decline of CD players in new cars. The thread proved to be a fertile one for practitioners of the “You’ve probably never heard of them” comment, although one such mention did actually arouse a grateful-sounding response:

That made me google [Akina] Nakamori whom I’d never heard of. Watched a YouTube of “Shipwreck” and was astonished to hear a J-pop singer who didn’t sound like one of the Fruity Oaty Bar voices.

This caught my attention, of course, and I immediately dialed over:

“Shipwreck” dates to 1989, by which time Nakamori had been a name brand in the Japanese pop market for seven years. Says Generasia of her:

As a singer Nakamori came to be known for her mature yet rebellious style and powerhouse vocals, but also for her ever changing image both visually and musically as opposed to the conservative J-Pop scene. Nakamori is also known as “the queen of tragedy” because most of her songs have a serious or sad tone unlike the normal happy and carefree sound heard in pop music. She was highly success from her debut to 1989, when she attempted suicide after a failed romance with Kondo Masahiko and due to stress induced by the invasive tabloid media. Even though she has never regained the same success, she has still managed to carry on a steady career.

Akina Nakamori in red

Akina Nakamori portrait

And at 50, she’s not going away any time soon:

Akina Nakamori in 2015

Last summer she cut “Unfixable,” one of her few English-language releases.

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Still unforgettable

Congestive heart failure has a way of lurking in the background for God knows how long and then suddenly lowering the boom. So it was with Natalie Cole, taken from us on New Year’s Eve at sixty-five. If it was unexpected, and it was, well, she didn’t look sick recently:

Natalie Cole sitting on the porch

Natalie Cole sitting on the patio

And could she still sing, you ask? You needn’t have asked. In 2013 she cut her last studio album, a collection of Latin standards (Natalie Cole en español) which topped the Latin chart, just missed the top of the Jazz chart, and even crept into the top half of the Billboard 200. The niftiest track, I think, was the five-minute medley enclosed by Tito Puente’s “Oye como va,” which was energetic as anything she’d ever done. But this is the track people clamored for: a version of “Acércate más” (“Come Closer to Me”) in which she’s accompanied by her father.

And if her intonation is better than his — neither of them spoke Spanish — no one’s going to say a word.

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Golden Gate status: open

Maybe you don’t spend any time wondering what would happen if, say, the Steve Miller Band were actually Dutch, but that’s where I came in:

Recorded in 1980, this song got a Stateside release the following year, along with the album Watts in a Tank, and it climbed to #25. (In Canada, always hipper albeit 90 degrees out of phase, it was a solid Number One.) A version of the band still exists, though “Diesel” has been respelled as “Deazol.”

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In the mouth of the mouse

Coming in a couple of months to Boca Raton, Florida:

Reunion - The Ultimate 80s Concert

Not everyone will look the same, of course. If I remember correctly, Mike Score is the only remaining original member of A Flock of Seagulls; then again, the two core guys from Wang Chung are still together, and Nu Shooz (Valerie Day and John Smith) are very much as they were.

Too bad they’re not taking this show on the road, ya dig?

(Via Debbie Gibson’s Facebook page.)

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From Italy with love

I was thumbing through the musical archives around here, and did not find this song:

You may remember Domenico Modugno from such hits as “Nel blu dipinto di blu,” known to everyone these days as “Volare,” which won two Grammy Awards and sold something like 20 million copies worldwide. That was in 1958. “Io” dates to 1959, and it deserves some kind of recognition for its short title, which in English is “I.” There exists a French lyric, under the title “Moi,” but the English version has a completely new set of words:

Released in 1964, this was Elvis’ biggest chart hit of that British Invasionary year, though it stopped at #12. And that was the song I found while thumbing through the archives.

RCA Victor 47-8440 presents a puzzle: two different picture sleeves (albeit with the same picture), one of which indicates “Ask Me” as the A-side, the other giving top billing to “Ain’t That Loving You Baby,” written by R&B stalwarts Ivory Joe Hunter and Clyde Otis and recorded back in 1958, which charted separately at #16.

Someone needs to get on the ball and knock out a piece on all the records Elvis did that originated in Italy. Two come immediately to mind, both of relatively ancient, hence public domain, Neapolitan origin: “It’s Now or Never,” a reworking of the standard “‘O sole mio,” which first appeared in 1898, and “Surrender,” based on “Torna a Surriento” (“Come Back to Sorrento”), from 1905.

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What goes around, and around

I’m betting you remember something like this:

Columbia House ad

It probably won’t be exactly like this, but it’s (almost) back:

Cue up the sound of a record rewinding: Columbia House, the once-famous mail-order business that sold CDs for a penny, is looking to relaunch by selling vinyl records.

John Lippman, who bought the brand out of bankruptcy this month, revealed the plan in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Citing millennials’ enthusiasm for vinyl, he said, “You can see a yearning and an interest to try a new format.”

Columbia House dates back to 1955, when Columbia Records, then a CBS subsidiary, saw an opportunity to market to customers who didn’t live near full-line record stores. The Columbia Record Club — RCA Victor and Capitol followed them quickly into the market — became the Columbia Record & Tape Club, and finally Columbia House. It somehow survived all manner of changes in the music industry, including the bloody dismemberment of both Columbia and RCA Records, but finally collapsed earlier this year.

(Via Fark, which notes: “This is not a repeat from 1979.”)

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Wild and wilder

In 2014, Time named Australian (via South Africa) singer Troye Sivan, then nineteen, as one of the year’s most influential teens, right up there with a couple of Jenners. I missed that, and also his spiffy single “Wild,” which briefly Bubbled Under the Billboard Hot 100 in the States. I mention him here because (1) that is a spiffy single and (2) because Rebecca Black — it is Friday, after all — has put out a cover of it:

RB’s version apparently isn’t out as a single, but it’s getting a fair number of upvotes at YouTube. There’s what I think is a clumsy edit near the end, and I am weary of that whole bee-stung lips thing, but I’ll take stuff like this wherever I can get it.

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Of hippos and homunculi

This song is as old as I am, but it (unlike me) never actually gets old:

She got one, too: a baby hippo named Matilda, who after the presentation went to live in the Oklahoma City Zoo, and made it to the ripe old age of 48; moving Matilda and her younger beau to Walt Disney World in Florida was apparently more than the old(ish) girl could take.

In 1960, Gayla Peevey, under the name “Jamie Horton,” cut this little ditty for a small New York label:

I don’t think she got one of those. (Peevey graduated from San Diego State, taught for several years, then ran an ad agency. She’s still around at 72.)

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The party may be over

This little number popped up on the shuffle yesterday:

Released the first week of 1964, “442 Glenwood Avenue” eventually charted at #56, its B-side (“Cold, Cold Winter”) a bit lower, but not enough to discourage Mercury from issuing Party with the Pixies Three, a sort of concept album about Friday and looking forward to the weekend.

I knew very little of Philadelphia, the Pixies’ home town, in those days; if you’d asked, I’d have said that they sounded sort of suburban, maybe somewhere out in Bucks County or thereabouts. And the one time I did go to Philly, it didn’t occur to me to look for Glenwood, though I did head out to Bristol on the off-chance that I’d find some kids sharp as a pistol.

Where I do not go, however, Google does. Welcome to present-day 442 [West] Glenwood Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

442 Glenwood Avenue Philadelphia

Specifically, 442 is the pinkish-orange townhouse between the two red ones. Says Trulia:

442 W Glenwood Ave has 3 beds, 1 bath, and approximately 816 square feet. The property has a lot size of [720 sq ft] and was built in 1920. 442 W Glenwood Ave is in the Fairhill neighborhood in Philadelphia, PA. The average list price for Fairhill is $60,222.

Actually, looking at this place makes me think of the Drifters’ “Three Thirty Three,” recorded during Clyde McPhatter’s brief tenure as lead singer, a place where, um, more adult amusements are offered.

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Let’s go away for awhile

And this is the place we ought to go:

Brian Wilson, the creative mastermind behind legendary American rock group the Beach Boys, will perform the landmark 1966 album Pet Sounds — which includes hit singles “Sloop John B,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and “God Only Knows”; is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential recordings of the rock era; and is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year — in its entirety at Tanglewood on Sunday, June 19, 2016, at 2:30 pm in the Shed. Wilson’s 2016 Pet Sounds tour is being called “The 50th Anniversary Celebration & Final Performance in its Entirety.”

How do I love this album? Let me count the ways. There are four: the original mono LP on Capitol (1966); the reissued LP on Brother/Reprise (1974), which says on the label “This record is pressed in monophonic sound, the way Brian cut it”; the Capitol mono CD (1990); and the 1997 box set The Pet Sounds Sessions, featuring a first-time stereo mix. I have paid for no other album more than three times.

Wilson’s band will include Beach Boys co-founder Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, a longtime touring member of the group, backed by the Boston Pops.

Of the original 13 tracks, Brian sang lead on seven. Then again, if he can hit those high notes this late in the game, he’s way ahead of the rest of us. (His Gershwin experiment, as I recall, didn’t soar too high.) Still, this is Pet Sounds. If Brian’s there, he’s worth hearing even if he has a Swiffer stuffed into his throat.

(Title from track six. Thanks to Roger Green, who let me know about it.)

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Strong as a horse, so to speak

Daniel Ingram, who writes all those daffily infectious (or infectiously daffy) songs for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, has opened many career doors, and maybe blocked one:

I’ve been approached by some really unexpected clients as a result of MLP’s wide-reaching success. From large companies like Cirque du Soleil and Netflix to just unexpected people like Frank Zappa’s son, Ahmet, reaching out to congratulate me. I just finished a song for a hotel chain in Brazil because their marketing guy is a brony. MLP has opened up doors to write for some pretty cool celebrities too including “Weird Al” Yankovic and 2014 Tony Award winner Lena Hall. But the marketability is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve had a lot of success getting work writing music for children’s television, but I’ve struggled to find an agent that will take me seriously. I believe that will change in the next year or two. Anyone know a good songwriting agent?

By then, of course, he should have finished the MLP feature film, due fall 2017, which I suspect will mean the end of the TV series as well. In the meantime, though, he’s put some utterly fab stuff on his CV, including this Season Two delight that’s clearly not kid stuff:

Nonpareil, as the pony says. (Sam Vincent, who voiced either Flim or Flam — who can tell?¹ — was thinking of another animal: the song, he said, was an absolute bear to learn.)

¹ Just kidding. He was Flim. In some of the foreign versions, though, the same VA sang both Flim and Flam.

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Make that to go

Once upon a time, the time being spring 2006, I took on one of those “Tell us about yourself” memes, and every single answer was a Frank Sinatra record.

For the Chairman’s 100th birthday, I shuffled through the archives, both mine and YouTube’s, in search of a song that nobody else will ever need to try to sing ever again. And this is the one I came up with:

Sinatra himself recorded this song six times, the latest in 1993, but this minimal live track seems to express the mood better than any of them. And if you do want to record this song, well, this is what you’re up against.

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Seoul sisters

Would you call this “LAX security”?

A pop group has flown back to South Korea after officials in Los Angeles thought they might be sex workers.

The eight members were travelling to America for an album cover shoot but were detained for 15 hours in customs.

A statement from the group’s record company, WM Entertainment, said authorities held them after going through their costumes and props.

Oh My Girl, who formed in March, are thought to be back in South Korean capital Seoul after being released by officials at Los Angeles International Airport.

Looking at the video for their second single, I can only conclude that the officials had some fairly warped ideas about Korean women under 21. This song is called “Closer,” and it in no way resembles a somewhat risqué tune of the same title recorded by Nine Inch Nails:

Okay, one of them actually is 21. Another is 16; the others fall between. And it’s not like the ROK encourages slutty behavior or anything:

In 2012, the government clamped down on over-sexualised performances by threatening to give higher age ratings to films, music videos and TV shows which exaggerated the sexuality of younger singers and bands.

(Via Shakila Karim.)

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No, sign the other name

This is the lead single from Sananda Maitreya’s The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords, released this past October, and damned if it isn’t infectious:

It’s made no chart noise as yet, perhaps due to Who Is This Guy? Syndrome. And you have heard this voice before, back in the late 1980s. But that was then, and today he’s Sananda Maitreya, and you probably shouldn’t refer to him as The Artist Formerly Known As Terence Trent D’Arby.

What prompted this, exactly?

He was typically maximalist in his explanation of the change: “Terence Trent D’Arby was dead,” he said. “He watched his suffering as he died a noble death. After intense pain I meditated for a new spirit, a new will, a new identity.”

And, given his relations with Sony during that first segment of his career, a new label would be nice. Sensibly enough, he set up his own.

But what matters is this: he’s still great. Here’s an earlier, harder song:

“Because You’ve Changed” comes from Maitreya’s 2009 album Nigor Mortis. As is his wont these days, he plays everything on most every track.

And there’s one more credit I want to mention: in 1999, he appeared in a two-part drama on CBS-TV called Shake, Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story. Credited as D’Arby, he played Jackie Wilson. Of course. (Start at 4:35.)

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