Archive for Tongue and Groove

September in the rain

It was in fact raining on Saturday when I got the notification of a new box set:

Dinah Washington 3-CD box set released October 2016

Which gave me an excuse to spin Dinah Washington’s last pop hit, from 1963:

Quite apart from the pop stuff, Washington was known as a blues singer, and in that same year of 1963 she cut an album called Back to the Blues, some of which was actually bluesy. (See, for instance, the last track, “Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This Morning.”)

Autographed photo of Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington does some album art

And sadly, in that same year of 1963, Dinah Washington, only thirty-nine, died, after having apparently dabbled in barbiturates. Meanwhile, in 2016, the rain has stopped for now.

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A hell of a B-side

We’ll let rhythm guitarist Lennie Petze explain what happened when the Rondels covered the old standard “My Prayer” back in ’61:

Produced by Bugs Bower this track really got The Rondels very excited. It has such a great sound and style and unlike anything out in the market at the time we thought this could be huge. The reviews that it got were very positive but the other side of the record was called “Satan’s Theme” and it got the most attention and still does on YouTube.

“Satan’s Theme”? Seriously?

For realz, guys. Neither of these, however, was quite as successful as “Back Beat No. 1,” their first single as the Rondels, issued earlier in 1961, which actually made it to #66 in Billboard.


Country for young women

This looks like a pretty interesting show:

Have you ever wondered the story behind “Live Like You Were Dying” for Tim McGraw? Did you know that the songwriter of “Friends in Low Places” actually traded his ownership of that song to pay off a hefty beer tab at a local bar in Nashville before it became a worldwide hit for Garth Brooks?

Introducing, “Nashville Unplugged: The Story behind the Song”, a songwriter in the round show that brings the most successful hit songwriters from Nashville right to you. The intimacy of this all acoustic, impromptu show makes for a highly interactive connection between the songwriters and the audience. No show is ever the same because there is no script or band; just some truth-telling troubadours with guitars in their hands, telling the stories behind some of the world’s greatest songs that they happen to have written.

Thursday in Pasadena. And I never would have guessed the opening act:

Then again, RB is working hard to hone her songwriting chops, so why not?

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As inevitable as the holidays themselves

Due out this fall:

She and Him Christmas Party

And hey, it’s been five years since Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward put out a Christmas album. (Come to think of it, they’ve had only one non-Christmas album since then.)

Track 12, it says, is “Christmas Don’t Be Late.” Really? Zooey? Zooey? ZOOEY!

[awaiting response]

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Pop, pop, pop music

New York, London, Paris, Munich … Pyongyang?

South Korea is set to blare pop music across its border with North Korea as part of its latest attempt to breed discontent in Kim Jong-un’s hermit kingdom.

The bizarre tactic has been proposed in response to yet another nuclear test by the aggressive maverick state, which has put the world on red alert.

Korea pop music, nicknamed K-Pop, will be played from huge speakers positioned near the border, with officials claiming the catchy tunes will be audible from a distance of 20 miles.

South Korean and international news reports will also be broadcast across the border.

Billboard abandoned its K-pop Hot 100 in 2014. This was the last Number One:

How would the DPRK deal with that?

(Via Fark.)

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Deliciously tart

While I wasn’t looking, singer-songwriter Fiona Apple turned thirty-nine; it took me a moment to realize that it’s been twenty years since her debut album, Tidal.

Fiona Apple assuming a position

Fiona Apple hits her stride

I am rather fond of her late-1999 single “Fast As You Can”:

Apple’s erstwhile boyfriend Paul Thomas Anderson directed this video and two others, in support of her album When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might so When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right, which, last I looked, was the third-longest album title of all time. (It’s only about half as long as this.)

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Glancing skyward

Things are looking up, says Rosanne Cash:

All the more reason to give it another spin, say I:

The fact that Greenbaum was and is an observant Jew doesn’t at all enter into it, though it does make me wonder. Four years earlier, Greenbaum, as part of Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band, recorded a silly ditty called “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago”; is Chicago kosher, and would an eggplant care if it was?

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As seen on Vine

Skylar Grey, who as “Holly Brook” was the one sweet voice on Fort Minor’s “Where’d You Go,” still has a sweet voice, but this particular video is pushing the Creepiness Envelope.

(One of the co-writers/producers here was Slim Shady himself, Eminem. Make of that what you will.)

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I am not a lawyer

Nana Tanimura finished her pre-law coursework in the spring of 2010, but decided not to go further:

Tanimura told fans that she was pleased to have graduated, but “I want to concentrate on my music from now on.” She said she didn’t join in many activities while she was at university, “not even ‘gokon’ (matchmaking parties).”

Three years before, she’d begun recording for Japan’s Avex Group. I think my favorite Nana track is “If I’m Not the One,” recorded in 2008:

Nana Tanimura in a sailor suit

Nana Tanimura in the sink

Nana Tanimura doesn't look happy

If she doesn’t look too happy in that last shot, it may be a reflection of her dwindling music career: Avex put out a Greatest Hits compilation in 2011, and we really haven’t heard from her since, except via social media.

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Sound bite, rebitten

It’s 44 years old, more or less, but the memory of this one segue has stuck with me all the while.

Tech Hi-Fi, an electronics retailer that bought tons of radio advertising in those days, had this one spot, which I heard on then-tiny WAAF, stuck at the far end of the dial in Worcester, Massachusetts. I can’t for the life of me remember the words, but they were set to a shortened version (no more than one minute) of “When I Was a Lad” from HMS Pinafore.

They cut off the song with the last line from the chorus, and one of the greatest songs of 1878 was followed by one of the greatest songs of 1972:

To this day, if I hear “When I Was a Lad,” I’ll expect it to be followed by “I’ll Be Around.” And if more people remember Gilbert and Sullivan than Thom Bell, well, life is like that sometimes.

I am also indebted to WAAF for playing the original Move version of “Do Ya,” which charted at a meager #93 in those curious days of 1972. Jeff Lynne, who wrote it, recut it with Electric Light Orchestra in 1976, but as the man1 says, the original’s still the greatest.

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Keeping the beat

It just might save someone’s life:

If a little irony helps save lives, St John Ambulance is all for it. CPR instructors pumped out retro tunes, including Queen’s hit “Another One Bites the Dust” and Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” in the middle of the Bridge Mall on Friday for express lessons in chest compression.

Both have the required 103 beats per minute recommended for CPR.

“‘Another One Bites the Dust’ is the tune that has resonated most but if people can remember the song because it’s quirky and, if they ever have to perform CPR, they’ll be hoping the person they’re working on doesn’t bite the dust,” St John’s Martin Wells said. “Any attempt at CPR is better than none.”

(Happened upon after reading Roger Green’s piece for Freddie Mercury’s 70th birthday.)

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They built this, shitty

I have never quite understood the utter hatred some people have for this song:

Yeah, it’s dumb, and it’s a long way from the Sixties/Seventies greatness that was Jefferson Airplane/Starship. But Worst Song Ever? Not even:

Blender magazine may have erred in 2004 by labeling it the “worst rock and roll song of all time,” at least in any universe in which John Lennon released “Imagine.” Their dissection of it as corporatized synth pop masquerading as social commentary is mostly accurate, of course. And they are quite correct in saying that its lyrics are silly rhyming couplets masquerading as profound insight (although the person who has never felt “knee-deep in the hoopla” has never attended a committee meeting).

But the same things can be said about some of the best rock and roll songs of all time, too (Substitute “most favorite” and “least favorite” for “best” and “worst,” if you prefer). If I had to pinpoint what I think is the reason “City” is so lousy, it’s because it takes itself and its genre so seriously. Rock and roll didn’t build San Francisco — and you could make a good case that the popular culture of the ’60s represented by Starship when it was still Jefferson Airplane didn’t build much of anything.

They were, after all, the Ship of Fools.

And in the three years since Vevo provided the video to YouTube, 96 percent of the thumbs are quite definitely up.

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Something to get

Roger Green just put out a retrospective of Billy Preston’s solo work; being the spoilsport I am, I hung a comment on it to the effect that Preston was the only sideman ever to be credited on the label of a Beatles record (“Get Back” b/w “Don’t Let Me Down”).

This, in turn, got me thinking of “Get Up and Go,” which struck me as the one Rutles recording that came closest to being legally actionable:

As it happens, Neil Innes, happy proprietor of the Rutles name and music, did get sued over several Fab Four-alikes — John Lennon had warned him — but not “Get Up and Go.”

Speaking of John Lennon, he wrote “Don’t Let Me Down,” the B-side of “Get Back,” which Rod Stewart appropriated for Part 2 of “The Killing of Georgie.” (“The lawyers never noticed,” Lennon quipped.) “Georgie” was remarkable for its time — 1976 — in that its protagonist was an openly gay man who’d found acceptance, even acclaim. Billy Preston, poor fellow, never could bring himself to come out of the closet until the very end. “Will it go round in circles?” Billy asked. I think it just did.

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The continuing adventures of Jasmine Tridevil

A year ago, we learned about a Florida woman who claimed to have been surgically altered to add a third breast between the standard two.

I assumed we’d heard the last of her, but it’s not so. That summer she put out a BDSM-oriented music video, shot in the Tampa Bay area where she lives. I don’t think I’ll embed it here, but I admit, I’ve seen racier, and probably so have you. And her voice, or whoever’s dubbed here, isn’t that terrible.

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Four chords, no waiting

Several years back, the Australian band Axis of Awesome performed the serious public service of unveiling the secret of three dozen songs, including one of their own: they were all built on the same chord progression, I–V–vi–IV. This is, of course, standard popular-music procedure: you gotta give the audience something they can relate to.

Note: I’ve posted a slightly different version of that before.

Now: can this be done with other progressions, say, I–vi–IV–V? But of course it can:

For that matter, it can be done just with Taylor Swift songs:

Note: I’ve posted a slightly different version of that before.

Tool boxes tend to look the same because tools tend to look the same.

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The biggest whoop

It’s the Millennial Whoop:

It’s a sequence of notes that alternates between the fifth and third notes of a major scale, typically starting on the fifth. The rhythm is usually straight 8th-notes, but it may start on the downbeat or on the upbeat in different songs. A singer usually belts these notes with an “Oh” phoneme, often in a “Wa-oh-wa-oh” pattern. And it is in so many pop songs it’s criminal.

Still, pop music is all about the familiar, the comforting, the reassuring:

[T]he Millennial Whoop evokes a kind of primordial sense that everything will be alright. You know these notes. You’ve heard this before. There’s nothing out of the ordinary or scary here. You don’t need to learn the words or know a particular language or think deeply about meaning. You’re safe. In the age of climate change and economic injustice and racial violence, you can take a few moments to forget everything and shout with exuberance at the top of your lungs. Just dance and feel how awesome it is to be alive right now. Wa-oh-wa-oh.

You’ve heard this before right here:

Hard to believe it’s four years (and 3.5 million YouTube views) since “Sing It” came out.


Friday, when new songs are released

Billboard, I’m sure, would say otherwise, but I’d like to think that changing the drop day for new music from Tuesday to Friday is Rebecca Black’s doing. (And she did it a few years before the rest of the world, not like the rest of the world was paying attention.)

Rebecca Black premieres The Great Divide

That said, there’s no video yet, but “The Great Divide” is out as a single; I picked it up somewhere within the first five minutes of its availability. This is the standard version:

Released simultaneously: a remix that pushes the song a hair closer to EDM and maybe a step away from Jim Steinman. I think I like the remix better, and hey, it gives RB the chance to double the take.

Update, 3 September: Here’s the official video, based on the remix:

This is killer stuff.


Grace of our hearts

I admit to a certain weakness for teenage, and even subteenage, girl singers, for some reason I’d just as soon not know. When they write their own stuff, even more so. Keeping that in mind, please take a look at Grace VanderWaal, twelve, from Rockland County, New York:

The Golden Buzzer got her to this point:

Is this the next Taylor Swift? I don’t know. I’m not sick of the last one yet. But damn, this girl can sell a song.


Are we home yet?

I wasn’t sure what to make of this — a collaboration between electronic musician Danny L Harle and pop princess Carly Rae Jepsen — and having seen it, I’m still not entirely sure:

“Super Natural” would describe, I guess, Jepsen’s apparent transition from Stepford to standard; but for now, it’s just a good song which earned my buck twenty-nine.

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A pause to remember

It was a single paragraph in the midst of several others:

Thomas Copenhaver is selling his two stations in Marion VA to CDM Broadcasting. Classic Rock 102.5 WOLD-FM and CHR “Z103.5” WZVA go from TEC2 Broadcasting and TECO Broadcasting respectively to CDM for $651,039. CDM began operating the two stations via Time Brokerage Agreement on August 1.

Wait a minute. WOLD?

Yep. Actually, that call predates the late Harry Chapin’s song by six years; they were a country station at the time and didn’t play it.

From a 1987 tribute to Harry, featuring brothers Tom and Steve, here’s Richie Havens with this song of the DJ who is no longer young:

I was suspecting, though, that like Harry and Richie, WOLD might be dead: their livestream produced nothing, and their Web site had been taken over. Nothing at WZVA either. I left a query at the WOLD Facebook page; they say they’re still around and that the new owners are implementing new Web stuff.

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It was easier when all you had to deal with was “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”:

The [Chicago] Cubs have terminated the stadium disc jockey who played the song “Smack My Bitch Up” after Aroldis Chapman’s outing Sunday night at Wrigley Field.

“We apologize for the irresponsible music selection during our game last night,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said in a statement on Monday. “The selection of this track showed a lack of judgment and sensitivity to an important issue. We have terminated our relationship with the employee responsible for making the selection and will be implementing stronger controls to review and approve music before public broadcast during our games.”

After Chapman closed the ninth inning against the Cardinals, The Prodigy’s 1997 song was played. Chapman began this season serving a 30-game suspension covered by Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy after a dispute with his girlfriend in South Florida last October.

Chapman’s usual walk-up music is Rage Against The Machine’s “Wake Up.”

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Retrieved from the vault

This story might have been interesting even if it didn’t involve Canadian garage rock:

A Grand Forks, B.C. man is living his rock and roll dream after a half-century on the shelf.

Danny Norton fronted a psychedelic rock band in the 1960’s in Winnipeg. He recorded a minor hit called Expedition to Earth, that small-towners grooved to back in the day.

That single was the end of his dream. The album was never cut.

But clearly the single was never entirely forgotten:

Norton’s wife went hunting on eBay for the vinyl and found out it had turned to gold.

The orange-labelled disc fetched $900 from collectors.

Another copy appeared three months later. Bidding for that ended at $1137.

Because obscurity, here are both sides of Franklin QC 618: “Expedition to Earth” b/w “Time Time Time,” by Danny Norton’s Expedition to Earth.

Norton’s now working on an album.

(With thanks to Roger Green.)

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After four hours of possibly excruciating research, Brian J. presents “Modern Country Music: A Topical Analysis.”

“Aimed squarely at the 20-year-old party crowd,” he concludes.

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That one face in the crowd

I never get tired of Carly Rae Jepsen: she’s reinvented herself so many ways without ever jeopardizing her girl-next-door persona. In 2014, she did a three-month run on Broadway as Cinderella:

Carly Rae Jepsen at the ball

And I’m not sure I can explain this shot from her Twitter feed, taken in Taipei:

Carly Rae Jepsen goes for a ride

Still, I always come back to the voice. This is an early sample: “Bucket” was the third single from Tug of War, her 2008 album, four years before “Call Me Maybe.” Before bangs, even:

Reportedly, it was a damned cold day on the beach when this was shot.


Under a shower of stars

“Surely someone recorded ‘Sukiyaki’ in French,” I said to myself.

Surely someone did:

Margot Lefebvre (1936-1989) was a French Canadian singer who flourished in the early to middle 1960s. This was probably her biggest hit:

Never got close to the US charts, so far as I can tell.


And it all wraps around

On my list of Best Band Names Ever is the Anderson Council, straight outta New Brunswick, New Jersey; like another, better-known band, they were named for Piedmont Blues singers Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

Their new waxing, Assorted Colours, contains eight tracks from their back catalog plus four new songs, one of which, “Girl on the Northern Line,” I’d heard before; Michael Lynch, then proprietor of the much-missed Ready Steady A Go Go podcast, cut a version.

Lynch’s version owes a little, perhaps, to “The Little Black Egg.” He got the song from its composer: rock historian Dawn Eden, now better known as Catholic theologian Dawn Eden Goldstein, who’d always intended the song for the Anderson Council. (Lynch and Goldstein would later collaborate on the chewy, chewy “Dubblbubbldandylionluv,” issued under the name “Man Cherry and Candy Date”; Goldstein herself would contribute a cover of Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know About Us” to the compilation The Stiff Generation.)

Goldstein is properly amused by the appearance of “Girl on the Northern Line”:

If MOJO magazine ever does a feature on “Systematic Theologians Who Rock,” perhaps now I will be on their short list.

I can hardly wait.


Still looking up

Just found out that Rokusuke Ei has passed away at 83. And who was Rokusuke Ei, you ask? He wrote these words for Kyu Sakamoto:

“Sukiyaki,” the unfortunate title slapped on “Ue o muite arukö” — “When I walk I shall look up” — by Western record guys, is still, after 53 years, the only #1 hit in America sung entirely in Japanese.

Sakamoto died in a plane crash in 1985.

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And death to your hometown

According to Warren Meyer, Bruce Springsteen has settled into an unsettling niche:

In Springsteen’s late era, he has simply become some grim prophet of New Jersey post-industrial decline. I can handle his pop stuff, but his more recent stuff is simply unlistenable in my book. Here is what it reminds me of: For those of you who saw the movie Network, remember how Howard Beale was taken aside by the Ned Beatty character for a grim lecture? Before that moment, Beale was a popular, authentic spokesman who hit a nerve with the populace. Afterwards, he was boring and depressing and unwatchable. I have always wondered if Bruce Springsteen had a similar meeting.

I dunno. I kind of like this 2012 single:

Maybe it’s the little Irish flourishes.

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Besides themselves

“Full Measure” is an oddity, even by the standards of the Lovin’ Spoonful catalog: a John Sebastian/Steve Boone composition somehow banished to the B-side of “Nashville Cats,” on which neither Sebastian nor Boone sang the lead. In its incarnation as a B-side, it matches up with Dave Marsh’s definition: “music too strange and majestic for Top 40 but so powerful that it wipes out the ostensible hit on the flip.” Then again, Marsh was talking about “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

“Full Measure” managed #87 in Billboard and is still a part of the Spoonful’s setlist. Joe Butler, who sang on the 45, sings it here:

Never get tired of that.


Let us not speak of honor

Say hello — and then say goodbye — to Qandeel Baloch, twenty-six:

Qandeel Baloch

Qandeel Baloch

And in motion:

Now the bad news:

Qandeel Baloch, a Pakistani social media star, was strangled to death by her brother in Multan, Pakistan, on Friday. The fashion model garnered fame and notoriety with her unconventional and scandalous — by Pakistani standards — public persona, and she had recently caused a stir by posting selfies with a prominent Muslim cleric, Mufti Qawi, during Ramadan. Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, had a huge social media fanbase, with 40,000 Twitter followers and more than 700,000 on her official Facebook page.

She wrote on Facebook on the 14th:

As a women we must stand up for ourselves..As a women we must stand up for each other… As a women we must stand up for justice

I believe I am a modern day feminist. I believe in equality. I need not to choose what type of women should be. I don’t think there is any need to label ourselves just for sake of society. I am just a women with free thoughts free mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM. :)

#QandeelBaloch #I_Am_The_Best #Stubborn_For_My_Dreams #One_Women_Army #High_Targets #DestinationBollywood #Will_Do_Things_My_Own_Way #Just_Watch_Me

As for the perp:

On 15 July 2016, Baloch was asphyxiated by her brother Waseem while she was asleep in her parents’ house in Multan. Her death was reported by her father Azeem. It was first reported as a shooting, but an autopsy report confirmed that Baloch was murdered by asphyxiation while she was asleep, on the night of 15–16 July around 11:15p.m. to 11:30p.m.; by the time her body was found she had already been dead for fifteen to thirty-six hours. Marks on Baloch’s body revealed that her mouth and nose were pinned shut to asphyxiate her. Police called the murder an honor killing.

Real honorable of you there, Waseem.

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