Archive for Tongue and Groove

Three decades out of whack

Now if you tell me about a musical act called the MonaLisa Twins, I am not going to assume that they’re even twins, let alone that one’s named Mona and the other is named Lisa. And I would, of course, be wrong.

Minor details: they’re Austrian, their father owns a recording studio (which never hurts), and they play their own retro-ish guitars. Mona is the blonde, Lisa the redhead (and the older, by five minutes). And while they may have been born in 1994, their hearts clearly belong to 1964: they’ve recorded several Beatles covers. Still, goofy video and all, this is my favorite item in their repertoire, a Graham Gouldman tune that became a Hollies hit:

Maybe they were both quite insane. I don’t care. I adore this.

Comments




Songs for a hole in the ground

Something called Dark Asylum Radio is asking:

Today is your funeral - what song is playing as they lower your body?

Given my modest but solid military record, I’m pretty sure that the local detachment of something or other will dispatch a bugler to send me off with “Taps.”

During the ceremony — perhaps as a recessional — I have requested the playing of this. The kids, I think, will honor this request.

Comments (6)




Brrr

Below-normal temperatures today and tomorrow morning here in the Big Breezy. Not that Rebecca Black would have any reason to know that, but if you ask me, she definitely picked a fine time to do her second one-take unequalized cover, a version of the Neighbourhood’s “Sweater Weather,” which you’ll find below the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments




Shushed

This is truly high weirdness. Alison Gold, you may remember — I’ve covered both “Chinese Food” and “ABCDEFG” — is a singer from Southern California who seems to have been the best chance so far for producer Patrice Wilson to create the same kind of buzz he did with “Friday” (yes, that “Friday”) in 2011.

The April Playboy has a half-page interview with Wilson, titled “Video Savant,” which opens with a description of Gold’s most recent video, “Shush Up”:

[It] begins with the pre-teen singer covered in gold glitter and wearing a gold lamé top and tiny shorts. She plays both a prison warden and a convict executed by electric chair before evaporating into a gold rain that falls on a dancing crowd as she shouts, “Crank it or just shush up” over a clubby house beat.

Was this “the most offensive music video of all time”? It’s been taken down from Wilson’s YouTube channel, though I found a copy on Vimeo, and it’s pretty dire. Attached to the Vimeo copy I found this:

[B]y God, it is truly the worst thing I have ever seen in my humble 20 years on this planet. Any hope I had for the redemption of whatever we’re calling the generation after gen Y was obliterated when I saw this video.

Oh, incidentally, the Playboy article notes that Wilson’s price for his prefab tune/video combo is now $6500.

Comments (1)




Down for the rebound

Tristan Prettyman, mentioned here about as often as I can work up an excuse, was dumped by Capitol Records yesterday.

She blames, um, me:

(Decidedly favorable review of Cedar + Gold — which I did actually buy, admittedly in the quantity of one — here.)

Comments




Just after someday

Is it possible to get tired of ex-Bangle Susanna Hoffs? I contend that the answer is No:

Susanna Hoffs in 2012

This particular photo was part of a session to promote Hoffs’ 2012 album Someday. After the jump, the song “Picture Me” from that album:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1)




Once more upon a dream

Usually when I get two recommendations for something, I have to go check its papers. This was the case with “Once Upon a Dream,” remade by Lana Del Rey for Maleficent, Disney’s upcoming prequel to Sleeping Beauty: Mr Pergiel calls it “compelling,” and Trini wrote me to tell me she found it “haunting.”

You definitely want to size this one up for yourselves. Del Rey, to me anyway, sounds thin here, even gaunt; however, for a spectral enterprise like Maleficent, it’s wholly appropriate.

Still undetermined: whether someone mispronouncing the title of the film will assume that it has something to do with, um, males.

Comments (1)




No synths to it

For some time now, I’ve been entertaining the notion that contemporary pop songs might actually work better were they treated as songs instead of cogs in the Great Rhythm Machine. Some of this stuff — obviously, not all of it — is highly singable, after all.

Toward this end, I give you Postmodern Jukebox, headed by pianist Scott Bradlee, who once issued an album called A Motown Tribute to Nickelback, with a ragtime version of a possibly recognizable tune. The vocalist is Robyn Adele Anderson, and she’s waiting for your call below the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments




Pavane pour un enfant surmené

You might remember the “Mozart Effect,” the notion that babies given a regular dose of Amadeus come out smarter. Suppose it had been other composers? What then? Greg Hlatky tells us what then:

  • Liszt Effect: Child speaks rapidly and extravagantly, but never says anything of importance.
  • Bruckner Effect: Child speaks slowly and repeats himself frequently. Gains a reputation for profundity.
  • Mahler Effect: Child continually screams at great length and volume that he’s dying.
  • Wagner Effect: Child becomes a megalomaniac. May eventually marry his sister.
  • Raff Effect: Child becomes a bore.
  • Shostakovich Effect: Child becomes very nervous when his parents discuss sending him to camp.
  • Vivaldi Effect: Child says the same thing 600 different ways.
  • Glass Effect: Child says the same thing 600 times in a row.
  • Ives Effect: Child says 600 different things simultaneously.
  • Schoenberg Effect: Child never repeats a word until he has used all the other words in his vocabulary. Sometimes talks backwards. People stop listening. Child blames them for their inability to understand him.
  • Babbitt Effect: Child talks complete gibberish. People stop listening. Child doesn’t care because his friends think he’s cool.

Side note: Firefox spellchecker choked on only one of those names. Sorry about that, Dmitri.

Comments (1)




Oh, those lonely rivers

Cover art for Bear Family release I Hunger For Your TouchAlex North and Hy Zaret are no doubt beaming from whatever cloud they’ve been uploaded to; there have been perhaps a thousand different recordings of “Unchained Melody,” a throwaway song from a 1955 Warner Bros. prison film that caught on immediately with the general public, even those who wouldn’t be caught dead seeing a 1955 Warner Bros. prison film. Thirty-one of those recordings are collected on a new Bear Family set called Unchained Melody: I Hunger For Your Touch, which contains all the versions you know, along with rather a lot of the ones you don’t, or at least rather a lot of the ones I don’t.

After Hy Zaret’s death in 2007, I wrote this:

“Unchained Melody,” as it was called, hit the charts in four versions in ’55; Les Baxter (Capitol 3055) took it to Number One, but his version was more or less an instrumental (there’s a brief chorus), leaving the vocal prize to Al Hibbler (Decca 29441), who coaxed it to #3 and bestowed upon it pop-standard status. Lots of people recorded it over the next decade or so; Phil Spector tossed it into a 1965 Righteous Brothers session as the B-side to “Hung On You” (Philles 129), the intended follow-up to “Just Once in My Life.” But “Hung On You” never broke Top 40, and DJs turned the 45 over to find, not the usual Spector throwaway instrumental, but a lovingly-produced Bobby Hatfield solo performance in front of the Wall of Sound at its lushest. (This being a B-side, rumors persist to this day that the other Righteous fellow, Bill Medley, actually produced it; I have my doubts, though Medley’s production for the Brothers’ post-Spector discs for Verve demonstrates his mastery of the Wall.) “Unchained Melody” climbed to #4; its inclusion in the 1990 romantic fantasy Ghost led Verve to reissue the single, which reached #13. (A re-recording by the Brothers also charted, reaching #19.)

Zaret, of course, approved. He was reportedly not amused by a George Martin-produced version by the Goons, which Parlophone stuffed back into the Abbey Road vaults before it could see the light of day, prompting the Goons to move to Decca. The recording finally surfaced in 1990, and apparently not even Dr. Demento would play it.

The Bear Family set includes a version by Todd Duncan, who sang the song in Unchained; it did not chart, despite Duncan’s brand-name status — George Gershwin himself had tapped Duncan for the lead in Porgy and Bess — perhaps because Duncan’s operatic baritone seemed out of place on mid-Fifties pop radio, and perhaps because the record was saddled with the title “Lonely Rivers.” Judge for yourself after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments




No country for young women

Much as I love Taylor Swift, she’s about as country these days as Rebecca Black, and the diehard traditionalists are asking “Are you sure Loretta done it this way?”

Which brings us to this point by a 15-year-old traditionalist, complete with Essential Video:

Williamson Branch is a bluegrass and country band from Nashville, and their 15-year-old fiddle and guitar player Melody Williamson recently wrote a song called “There’s No Country Here.” Despite her age, Music Row would be wise to remove themselves for their laundry list clatter and listen to what the future of country music has to say about where country music is headed.

And they’re not kidding when they say “future”: the youngest member of Williamson Branch is four.

Comments (3)




Meanwhile on Fascination Street

Kristina Monllos of the Awl would like to know: Why Do So Many Romcoms Use Songs By The Cure?

Have you ever wondered why The Cure is used to soundtrack so many romantic comedies? Have you ever stopped to think about what that implies, that this British deep-goth turned pop-rock band hits a particular sweet spot, like the meet-cute, for this dying movie genre? A few months ago, I went to go see About Time, a middling romcom by the same writer and director of Love Actually, and when I heard “Friday I’m in Love,” something in me snapped.

I suspect that “Killing an Arab” wouldn’t have been quite appropriate.

Of course, this floundering genre recycles the same storylines and tends to focus on white affluent couples and just how wacky a life of privilege can get when love is thwarted, but that’s besides the point and also a totally cuckoo rabbit hole that we shouldn’t go down. The audacity of the music recycling is what pissed me off (the audacity of the other and way more problematic stuff pisses me off too, but let’s talk about that another time). Do they — they being the movie industry puppeteers, natch — really think we don’t notice this pattern? And are they now trying to use songs by The Cure to condition us to have particular emotional responses to new romcoms based on past romcoms we’ve seen, even if the ones we’re seeing have progressively poorer writing and acting? Is Robert Smith involved? Could he even be behind it?

Or maybe it’s just that said puppeteers turn to blubbering buckets of Jell-O® every time they sing along:

However far away
I will always love you
However long I stay
I will always love you
Whatever words I say
I will always love you

Not that I would know anything about that, of course.

(Via Five Feet of Fury.)

Comments




Formerly Phil and Don

There was a stretch of about ten years — roughly, 1973 to 1983 — when the Everly Brothers were acting like perfect strangers to one another; legend has it that they exchanged not one word in that decade. (Possible exception: in 1975, at father Ike Everly’s funeral.)

Now Phil’s gone at 74; Don, two years older, is hanging on. While they’ll always be remembered as a duo, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a unit, of the three biggest hits they had as songwriters — they couldn’t tap Felice and Boudleaux Bryant forever — Don wrote one (“Till I Kissed You”), Phil wrote one (“When Will I Be Loved”), and they wrote one together (“Cathy’s Clown”).

“When Will I Be Loved” has a weird history of its own. Left in the vault at Cadence Records after the Everlys moved to Warner Bros. in 1960, the success of “Cathy’s Clown” for WB (Number One!) led Cadence to dust off the year-old track and send it out. It made the Top Ten, and the B-side, a cover of Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” picked up enough airplay to chart on its own. Now, of course, “When Will I Be Loved” is remembered as a Linda Ronstadt single, faster than the Everly original and with the verses shuffled. (The things you learn from karaoke.)

Anyway, given my penchant for live shows, or the appearance of live shows, beneath the jump you’ll find Don and Phil on Dick Clark’s Saturday-night show in 1960, singing over the backing track. (The audio goes wonky near the end.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (2)




Back street luv

I bought a boatful of Curved Air tracks over the weekend — Repertoire’s 2010 compilation Retrospective, for which “boatful” = 28 — and it occurred to me that maybe I ought to say something about Sonja Kristina, the one constant member of the ever-reshuffling band.

Sonja Kristina Linwood, born in 1949, started out singing folk and doing stage work, the combination of which found her doing Hair in London. (She sang the role of Chrissy, the girl who met a boy called Frank Mills.) When Hair finally closed, she and the four stage musicians formed Curved Air, which carved out a small reputation as a progressive band. This vintage photo seems appropriate:

Sonja Kristina of Curved Air

Weirdly, my favorite Curved Air track turned out to be one from the band’s fourth album, in which all of the original members save Kristina had gone their separate ways. This 2012 live version of “Metamorphosis” features Kristina reunited with original drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa, who didn’t play on the 1973 studio track, and with keyboardist Robert Norton, who ably reconstructs Eddie Jobson’s original piano bits.

“Back Street Luv” is the title of Curved Air’s only hit single, which reached #4 on the UK charts and nowhere anywhere else.

Comments (4)




A diamond in the flesh

When I first heard that Rebecca Black was covering Lorde’s ineffable “Royals,” something inside of me died just a little.

Fortunately, I heal quickly, and I’m here to tell you that this is pretty amazing, especially given her early history of, um, studio fine-tuning. She recorded it live on her MacBook, with absolutely zero production values.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments off




Or perhaps a young lion

Diversity by Emily BearThe following things you need to know about Diversity by Emily Bear:

  • This is her sixth album, though her first on a major label (Concord Jazz);
  • All thirteen tracks are her own compositions;
  • She turned twelve at the end of August.

While a lot of her YouTubage shows her in front of orchestras, she’s fronting a traditional jazz trio here, with Carlitos del Puerto on bass and Francisco Mela on drums. Zuill Bailey drops in for cello parts on four tracks. And it’s a very traditional sound indeed; you could imagine this fifty years ago on Verve with Creed Taylor at the board. It’s not, however, particularly diverse. Not that I mind; I could listen to this stuff for hours on end. Quincy Jones, Bear’s producer and mentor, has provided a particularly lovely acoustic aesthetic. Oddly, the weakest number here might be “Q,” her tribute to the master, which never really gets off the ground. Favorite track? Perhaps the leadoff, “Northern Lights,” which does an admirable job of setting the stage for what’s to come. And I admit to cracking several smiles at “Salsa Americana,” which opens up wildly like an old Tito Puente record and then suddenly heads downtown.

You can hear all thirteen of these tracks (via Soundcloud) on emilybear.com; I decided I wanted a copy for my shelf, and bought the CD.

Comments off




Persistence is rewarded

One of my more curious record-acquisition techniques in the middle 1960s was to sit by the phone and wait for a chance to win one from one of the two Top 40 stations in town. The big 5000-watter, much harder to get into, usually just mailed you a card which you could redeem at a local music store. The little thousand-watter, though, gave you stuff right out of their music library, where I bagged a few enduring hits and rather a lot of non-hits.

And one record which I broke, maybe, and forgot about. It was some time late in 1965 when I claimed this 45 at the station, and about a year later when it disappeared. I don’t remember what happened: did I break it? Did I lend it out? Where did it go? No answers forthcoming, I let it go, and gradually it faded from memory.

Now here we are, just about 48 years later, and the record is on my mind once again. All I can recall is the record label itself, because the spelling of the name was a bit eccentric, and the last line of the song, which was probably the title. My Google-fu would be challenged to the max.

The first clue came from a reference site/message board called Soulful Detroit, which actually knew the label: it was on the fringe of the Eddie Wingate empire. Wingate, you may remember, operated a pretty decent sub-Motown operation in those days, and had one sizable hitmaker: Charles Hatcher, aka Edwin Starr, aka Agent Double-O-Soul. Ostensibly to acquire Starr’s contract, but mostly to get the Funk Brothers to stop playing on other people’s records, Motown HMFIC Berry Gordy Jr. offered Wingate a ton of money to do a disappearing act.

And Wingate, it appeared, owned a piece of this independent-ish label called Volkano, with a K, which would issue four singles during its short lifespan, including one by a fellow named Bob Santa Maria. (It is suspected that Bob’s real last name was Seger.) The first issue on Volkano was “The Beginning of the End,” by Little John and Tony; “Tony” was Pete Saputo, also known as Anthony Raye — the more pseudonyms, the better, am I right? — and “John” was producer John Rhys, who co-wrote the song with longtime Detroit bassist Dennis Coffey. Coffey also arranged the record, and, most important from my point of view, still had a copy of it.

Now if I could just find a copy on YouTube — or, better yet, iTunes.

Comments (1)




Damned normalization

Very few people, says Jack Baruth, are both extraordinarily talented and emotionally stable:

Dave Grohl, by all accounts, is a sober, decent, hardworking, trustworthy, fan-focused, sense-of-humor-possessing, completely dedicated individual. W. Axl Rose, by contrast, is completely and utterly worthless in every respect, except for the minor fact that he was responsible for Appetite For Destruction and Use Your Illusion. Ask yourself who the rock star is: Dave Grohl — or Axl Rose? If Axl Rose could get his shit together long enough to perform for an evening with at least part of the original Gn’R lineup, and Dave Grohl was also performing that evening somewhere else, where would you go?

In a perfect world, Axl Rose would have Dave Grohl’s sterling personal qualities and we’d be awaiting the release of the seventh or eighth brilliant Guns N’ Roses album on iTunes any day now. In a perfect world, John Bonham and Nick Drake and Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix and Bon Scott and Keith Moon and every other incandescent talent who left the stage too soon as a result of their personal problems would still be making music. Instead, we have endless tours from hardworking nonentities like Phish and the group that has the nerve to call themselves the Who.

Now I have to ask myself if my writing has gotten better, or worse, since I started getting a grip on my own emotions. (First guesstimate: it’s been a wash.)

Comments (1)




A different kind of buzz

Never in a million off-seasons would it have occurred to me that Lorde’s inspiration for “Royals” was, um, a member of the Kansas City Royals:

It took a few weeks of research, but National Geographic has confirmed that pop star Lorde was referring to a photo of Kansas City Royals’ baseball legend George Brett when she explained where she got the inspiration for her megahit “Royals.”

In an interview a few months ago with VH1, Lorde (real name Ella Yelich-O’Connor) explained how she “had this image from the National Geographic of this dude just signing baseballs. He was a baseball player and his shirt said, ‘Royals.’ It was just that word. It’s really cool.”

Someone, of course, would have to track that down, and someone did:

After The [Kansas City] Star wrote a story on Nov. 19 about the interview, an astute reader found a photo that matched the description.

The photo, published in July 1976, shows the star third baseman surrounded by adoring fans and signing baseballs. According to a National Geographic spokeswoman, “this appears to be the only photo in our archives of a Royals baseball player signing autographs.”

I have to assume that hearing “Royals” twice a day, to and from the K, had nothing whatever to do with the Royals’ 86-76 season, third place in the AL Central, their first finish above .500 in a decade — but you never really know, do you?

Comments (1)




But how does it look on the label?

The annual A. V. Club “The Year in Band Names” list is replete with disgusting and/or scurrilous names, because disgusting and/or scurrilous gets your group listed in articles like this.

But they’re not all D/S. One of the acts listed is one I’ve heard of and actually like:

In fact, you’ll hear that lead vocalist on several tracks on this album.

As for Zombie Deathstench, Sad Baby Wolf (I don’t think the Cheese Mistress has anything to do with this) or JFK Didn’t Even See It Coming, well, you’re on your own.

Disclosure: I once bought an EP by a band called Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Comments off




Just a few pony songs

As Twilight Sparkle might say, I wasn’t prepared for this:

Songs of Friendship and MagicHasbro, seeing a need — and perhaps noting the enormous number of mediocre YouTube episode dubs — has put out, at least on iTunes and Google Play, an eleven-track album of arguably the best tunes from the first two years of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The most obvious omission, I think, is the Cutie Mark Crusaders Song from “The Show Stoppers,” but then it was never intended to be, um, good. Ingram, of course, is the logical person to plug this thing, since he wrote them all, and iTunes lists him as the artist on all tracks. (Which reminds me: whom do we have to proposition to get a collection of William Anderson’s background music?)

The iTunes package ($9.99) contains one of Apple’s Digital Booklets — it’s a PDF, no big deal — with a list of who’s singing what and all the words. (Except for “BBBFF,” which got lost in the shuffle; its page in the Booklet contains the opening of “This Day Aria,” which admittedly is a pretty long song.) If you’ve ever wanted to sing along with Flim and Flam’s ode to the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, now’s your chance. (At the time I grabbed this album, Flim and Flam were dead last on the iTunes popularity chart, with “Smile” and “Winter Wrap Up” grabbing all the single buys. I can’t explain it either.)

Of course, I love all this stuff unreservedly, “Love Is In Bloom” most of all.

Comments off




Sunday still comes afterwards

In retrospect, it seems so obvious: Rebecca Black already owns Friday in pop culture, right? And so, the Next Step:

In purely musical terms, “Saturday” is to “Friday” what the Four Tops’ “It’s the Same Old Song” is to “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch).”

Comments (3)




Till the end of time

Got a twin-spin for you today: the same song in two distinctively different arrangements. Andrew Gelman prompted this:

I love reading the kind of English that English people write. It’s the same language as American but just slightly different. I was thinking about this recently after coming across this footnote from Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop, by Bob Stanley: “Mantovani’s atmospheric arrangement on ‘Cara Mia’, I should add, is something else. Genuinely celestial. If anyone with a degree of subtlety was singing, it would be quite a record.’”

Definitely sounds English (and Mark Liberman confirms). Below the jump, the two best recordings of this song: Mantovani’s 1954 version, without David Whitfield’s voice — though it was the Whitfield recording with Mantovani’s accompaniment that was the UK hit — and a 1965 American version by, um, Jay and the Americans.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1)




Still your best friend

Yours truly, from earlier this month:

I’m not entirely sure what The Last Thing I Ever Expected might be, but there’s at least a reasonable chance that it might be a solo album from a former member of the Shaggs.

Ready! Get! Go!So here’s Dot Wiggin, now somewhere in her sixties, still doing what she did in front of her sisters four and a half decades ago: singing intensely personal, fiercely melodic, idiosyncratic songs that don’t match up to any genre you’ve ever heard of. There is much to learn here, starting with a refutation of this Citation Needed remark in the Shaggs article at Wikipedia:

Reportedly, during the recording sessions the band would occasionally stop playing, claiming one of them had made a mistake and that they needed to start over, leaving the sound engineers to wonder how the girls could tell when a mistake had been made.

Jesse Krakow, who organized the project, produced the recording and wrote the liner notes, is here to tell us otherwise:

I got a package in the mail containing Dot’s handwritten charts to “Your Best Friend”, “My Pal Foot Foot”, “Philosophy Of The World”, and the lyrics to “Banana Bike” and “The Fella With A Happy Heart”. And there they were. The long, non-repeating melody lines, the choppy rhythms, the odd pauses, the unpredictable instrumental breaks, the playful lyrics, the inimitable way that the lyrics, melody, and chords were stapled together. They were all written out. Which was shocking. For all of their supposed ineptitude, The Shaggs (specifically Dot) wrote all their songs down in traditional musical notation. In fact, Dot told us that whenever they performed they always had the sheet music onstage. So to all of those musical experts who love The Shaggs because “they didn’t know what they’re doing”, guess what? They did!

The material here is all Dot with occasional contributions by Krakow, except for “Wiggin Out,” a goofy surf-styled chant assembled by Krakow, and “The End of the World,” which you know from several thousand cover versions already. Apparently it’s Dot’s Favorite Song Ever. There are two tracks bearing the title “Speed Limit,” the first a new Dot song about the Need for Speed, the second (officially titled “Speed Limit 2″) a 1970 song the Shaggs never recorded, turned here into some weird desiccated blues that suggests the need maybe isn’t so important after all. (Dot, we are told, drives very fast.) “Banana Bike,” Dot’s tribute to sister Helen, might be the obvious single here, but the track I keep coming back to is “Eh,” a tribute to diffidence and the avoidance of same, despite its title containing no Canadian content whatsoever.

Why this is on Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label, I don’t know. I don’t really care. But I thank him for turning it loose onto a world that needs the Shaggs’ philosophy more than ever.

Comments (1)




And I’ll send it along

Buckle up: this is going to be a tricky little ride.

In 1981, the Dutch operation known as Stars on 45 issued a medley of Beatles soundalikes which took up an entire LP side. The US version ran a startling 15:33, which turned out to have been edited down from the 15:48 European release. The reason had to do with clearance from music publishers, or lack thereof.

When John Lennon and Paul McCartney set up shop as songwriters, demand was pretty slack — until, of course, it wasn’t. They’d placed eight songs, two of them (“Love Me Do,” “P. S. I Love You”, making up their first Parlophone single) with EMI’s publishing unit, six which Brian Epstein shopped around to the highest bidder. Enter British publisher Dick James, who suggested, sensibly enough, that the band should own its own publishing, or at least a percentage thereof; Northern Songs would be owned 50 percent by James and his partner, 20 percent by Lennon, 20 percent by McCartney, and 10 percent by Epstein. The company went public after two years.

After Epstein’s death, things got complicated: Lord (then Sir Lew) Grade’s ATV acquired a majority of the shares, including the Dick James holdings, and, unable to wrest control of the company themselves, Lennon and McCartney sold out. In the early 80s, after Lennon’s death, McCartney and Yoko Ono tried to buy out ATV, but couldn’t close the deal; McCartney busied himself by acquiring other music copyrights, and happened to mention to Michael Jackson that he’d earned a ton of money by so doing. ATV Music was put up for sale in 1984, and neither McCartney nor Ono put up a bid, reportedly because the price was too high. It wasn’t, however, too high for the King of Pop, who closed the deal for $47.5 million.

When all was said and done, the Northern Songs catalog — Northern Songs itself was dissolved in 1995 — was owned half by Sony and half by the Jackson estate. As for the eight Beatles tracks outside Northern Songs, McCartney now owns “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You,” and rights to the six others — “Misery,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “There’s a Place,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “She Loves You” and “From Me to You” — were acquired last year by Adage Group and Round Hill Music from New York-based Gil Music Corp. And it was “From Me to You” that had been stricken from the American Stars on 45 release for lack of clearance.

Interestingly, one of the principals in Round Hill is Richard Rowe, who had negotiated the merger of ATV with Sony, who had been president of the Sony/ATV combine — and whose father, the late Dick Rowe, was the A&R guy who supposedly turned down the opportunity to sign the Beatles in 1962, ostensibly because groups with guitars were on the way out.

This is what happens when you start digging into a stash of foreign tracks. Please note that publishers and songwriters both collect royalties when a recording or transcription of a song is sold; in the States, should you record a cover of “From Me to You,” you pay 9.1 cents a copy to Round Hill/Adage, which then sends about 4.55 cents to McCartney and Ono, who split it down the middle. Now the only cover of “From Me to You” with which I’m familiar is Del Shannon’s on Big Top, of which I actually have a copy, which did better on the US charts than did the Beatles’ original on VeeJay. And Bug Music, the little publishing firm founded in 1975 to control Shannon’s catalog, eventually grew to one of the largest independent publishers before being sold to BMG — and eventual administration by Adage. Everything that goes around seems to come around.

Comments (4)




Can’t beat the tweet

Add this to the list of things I wasn’t expecting:

(A couple of these folks have been here before.)

Comments (2)




Something short of nostalgia

Still, as the young people might say, this is a Thing:

Norton Records release event in Dallas

I mean, the event in question is not going to go unnoticed, and Norton Records, as record labels go, is definitely on the side of the angels, but something about this particular enterprise seems a little unsettling. But maybe that’s just me.

The vinyl version, incidentally, is pressed on grassy green vinyl. Of course.

Comments (7)




Sun returning

It was de rigueur at one time to mock that silly Greenwich Village fellow John B. Sebastian for this infamous lyric: “The record man said every one is a yellow Sun record from Nashville / And up North here ain’t nobody buys ‘em, and I said ‘But I will’.”

Sun Records, of course, was from Memphis; Sam Phillips was never one of those Nashville cats. Then in 1969 Shelby Singleton bought Sun from Sam Phillips, and eventually moved Sun headquarters to, um, Nashville. So Sebastian got the last laugh, and he is welcome to it. Sun wasn’t recording any new material, anyway: Singleton was content to maintain the Sun catalog as it was.

Then Singleton died in 2009, and Collin Brace, who’d only just started at the label, saw his chance. The first act signed by Sun in forty years is Julie Roberts, who’d done two albums for Mercury and a third on her own Ain’t Skeerd imprint.

Roberts’ first Sun release is Good Wine and Bad Decisions, and if that’s not a classic country title, I’ve never heard one. There exists a lyrics-only video of the title track. Chuck Dauphin of Music News Nashville notes:

What is so captivating about this disc is that she couldn’t have recorded it during her days on Mercury a few years back. Sometimes, survival is one of the most attractive trait of all, and over the past few years Roberts has survived losing her home in the 2010 Nashville flood, a battle with MS, and more than a few nights with decisions that she might have regretted. Knowing where you have fallen, and not killing yourself over it is something that Roberts can sing and write very ably about.

Something for the wish list, you may be sure.

Comments off




It’s okay to shoot the moon

It seems that ninety-something percent of photographs of singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi, forty-three today, show her in Intense Musician Mode, concentrating on the flow as it goes. Then there’s this one, from the 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival:

Susan Tedeschi in blue

Still, this is an anomaly, as such things go.

In 2010, both Tedeschi and husband Derek Trucks — he’s the nephew of original Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks — put their individual touring bands aside and formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Watch her face, and watch his fingers. Better yet, just listen:

It’s a familiar theme: A goes on the road, B remains behind and cries into the night sky. It’s perhaps the most morose song John Sebastian ever wrote; there’s something almost reassuring about seeing an actual married couple pulling it off.

Comments (1)




A short-reach excavator

On the off-chance that there’s someone out there who really, truly liked the song “Wrecking Ball,” but wanted to hear someone else — anyone else — sing it, we have here the second Rebecca Black variation on a Miley Cyrus theme:

The first, of course, was her duet with Jon D on “We Can’t Stop,” which you may remember from July.

Comments off