Archive for Tongue and Groove

Never gonna give Foo up

I guess we could call this Rick Astley/Foo Fighters combination a RickGrohl:

From the Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo, this past weekend. (There are some untoward words scattered through the audio, so don’t play this too loudly at work.)

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With a natural glow

Last week, our piece on British actress Dorothy Mackaill featured this clip from the 1931 drama Safe in Hell:

You probably spotted Mackaill at left in that frame. But who’s the beauty in the center?

Nina Mae McKinney has the moves

Nina Mae McKinney in high style

Nina Mae McKinney by the piano

Nina Mae McKinney (1912-1967) was a decidedly distinctive American actress, born in small-town South Carolina and hailed in Europe as “The Black Garbo,” which is high praise indeed. At home, she wasn’t quite so highly celebrated, for reasons mostly having to do with Jim Crow and his descendants, but she was respected for her work, and in that Safe in Hell clip she didn’t do that bogus ethnic Stephanie Fetchit voice that marred so many pictures with African-American women, which by all accounts was fine with director William A. Weilman.

Nina Mae decided to get out of Europe after the Third Reich strode into Poland, and while she did find work, it was mostly in B pictures; after the war, she moved to Greece.

And we must mention Hallelujah! Released in 1929, it was that rarest of motion-picture phenomena: a film with an all-black cast, a standard rather than substandard budget, the backing of a major studio — MGM, no less — and a name-brand director: King Vidor. Of course, Metro, concerned about the money, insisted on a slightly scurrilous and decidedly stereotypical story. But Vidor kept sneaking reality into the film, and it became a sizable hit; Vidor was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. Nina Mae’s character, a sharecropper turned Loose Woman, wasn’t any sort of role model, but oh, how she could dance!

Irving Berlin, the whitest songwriter of them all — see, for instance, the Drifters’ version of “White Christmas” — came up with “Swanee Shuffle,” and Curtis Mosby’s real-life band plays in this legendary dancehall scene.

And if you did the math and figured that Nina Mae was only sixteen at the time — well, forget it. It’s just math.

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No trends were set

The Trendsetters were a British band made up mostly of Royal Air Force members; at some point in 1964 they rebranded themselves as the Hedgehoppers, an RAF term for those who flew close to the ground. They’d achieved little success with either name until producer Jonathan King showed up with a song and a new name for the band. Say hello to Hedgehoppers Anonymous:

This was the version heard in the US, where “It’s Good News Week” managed #48 in Billboard. The British single, it turns out, was different. Instead of that sacred-cow reference, there was this:

It’s good news week
Families shake the need for gold
By stimulating birth control
We’re wanting less to eat

And you didn’t dare mention wicked, sinful birth control in the U. S. of A. in 1965. Some reports have Jimmy Page (!) playing guitar on this track; more likely, I think, it was “Big” Jim Sullivan.

The Hoppers, signed to Decca for five singles, managed one more semi-hit, “Don’t Push Me,” which barely Bubbled Under Billboard. King, who’d had one hit under his own name, the ethereal “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon,” was subsequently presented with a demo tape from a band called Anon. King liked what he heard, and cut three singles with Anon, whom he renamed “Genesis,” along with the album From Genesis to Revelation, which, according to Tony Banks, sold 649 copies — “and we knew all those people personally.” By then, the Hedgehoppers had broken up, and King kept moving on.

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A brand-new beat

Actually, this particular rhythm has been building in the streets since the 1960s, though not everyone heard the call. Still, if you can’t forget the Motor City, there’s a very good reason why.

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So sure about it

The single greatest song of the 1960s is still a topic for discussion half a century later, which I guess attests to its greatness:

Which is not an unreasonable thing to think:

When I was younger, I loved that song. I hoped that some day I would have someone in my life who would love me like that, where I was essentially the whole world to him, and to have that kind of meaning in someone’s life.

As I got a little older, and learned more about humanity, I realized how absolutely rare that kind of love is … and that it was probably something I’d never get to have (and with each year that passes, it becomes less likely).

I realized this morning (after a chain of clicking made me listen to it again) that it would be kind of exhausting for me now to have someone who depended on me so much that he could literally not imagine how he’d live without me there … and yeah, maybe that level of dependence is a little creepy, I don’t know, if you take it literally.

I get that the song is really late-teen/early-20s romanticism talking, but a grown-up person needs to depend on themselves and not be so welded to another person that they cannot envision life without them.

As it happens, I’ve already addressed this issue:

[A]s the Boys noted two songs later on Pet Sounds, “Love is here today and it’s gone tomorrow / It’s here and gone so fast.”

But lyricist Tony Asher knew what he was doing with that opening line. It’s that old perception-versus-reality thing again: you might want to question my devotion at some point, but ultimately “I’ll make you so sure about it.” And really, have you ever seen a couple this side of Darby and Joan who didn’t occasionally have their differences? “The couples cling and claw and drown in love’s debris,” noted Carly Simon (and/or Jacob Brackman) several years later. But still they cling.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a song from the Seventies answered a call from the Sixties. And despite their almost total absence from most of my own existence, I will always believe in hearts and flowers.

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Always gentle on your mind

“Love in the real world is a mixture of the magical and the mundane, and the two never intersected more beautifully than in this Jim Webb classic.” — Me, after proposing a Valentine’s Day mixtape.

As Webb himself will tell you, it’s as much the singer as the song. And for “Wichita Lineman,” he got exactly the singer he needed:

Of course, Glen Campbell was so singular a singer that we tended to forget his virtuosity on the guitar: they’d didn’t let just anyone into the Wrecking Crew. And if you happened to flip over his 1977 cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights,” you got to hear him try his hand at Gioacchino Rossini:

And then there was that time he sounded nothing like himself and still demanded your attention:

Now I ask you: who else from Arkansas ever did Italian overtures and musique concrète in the same lifetime?

It was, alas, a lifetime that ended in confusion and bewilderment. Two weeks ago, this heartbreakingly apt video appeared:

“Adiós” was recorded in 2015, a couple of years before the final curtain. Take a bow, sir.

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Working up a Szwed

It being 8/8, I figured I’d look for someone born on this date, and I wound up with Polish singer/actress Aleksandra Szwed, who turns twenty-seven today. She was born in Warsaw, but a significant branch of her family tree runs through Nigeria, a combination I’ve literally never seen before, and that closed the deal right there.

Aleksandra Szwed on the cover of Shape

Aleksandra Szwed rocks a tank

Aleksandra Szwed on the red carpet

I think I like the close-cropped ‘do.

Szwed appeared on the TV series Rodzina zastępcza (“Foster Family”) for the entirety of its eleven-year run. She’s also made a few records, none quite as insane as this one: “Powiedz, że nie kochasz” (“Say you do not love”):

Though you may already know this one in its original language: German.

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Your basic fast predator

Heart’s “Barracuda” gets run through the Pergelator:

A barracuda is a fast predator that lives in the sea. Has kind of a nasty reputation. Reading the lyrics (because half the time I can’t understand all the lyrics and the other half of the time I get half of the words wrong) doesn’t really get me anywhere. This story over on Ultimate Classic Rock explains that Ann Wilson was angry with some of the jerks she encountered in the music business, which sounds a whole lot like the Boss Hoss tune “Monkey Business.” The lyrics don’t really make that clear. Actually they don’t make much sense, but hey, poetic license, use your imagination.

I did. And I think the better tale of jerkdom encountered is “Little Queen,” on the same LP but not making the Top 40.

Away from the sellers, the papers said
Your crown was tight and heavy on your head
Still you danced and you sang, all night
The telephone rang
Music kept on playing from your pen.

About four and a half minutes into the song, Ann rhymes “little queen” with “magazine,” and if you ask me, thereby hangs a tale:

The group intended Magazine to be the official follow-up album to the debut Dreamboat Annie. However, a contract dispute with their label, Mushroom Records, resulted in the group signing with the newly formed Portrait Records, a division of CBS Records (now Sony/BMG).

The Mushroom contract called for two albums and the label took the position that they were owed a second one. On that basis, Mushroom attempted to prevent the release of Little Queen and any other work by Heart. They took the five unfinished tracks for Magazine and added a B-side and two live recordings. The first release of the album in early 1977 came with a disclaimer on the back cover.

The dispute dragged on and ended with the court deciding that Heart was free to sign with a new label, but added that Mushroom was indeed owed a second album. So, Heart went back to the studio to rerecord, remix, edit, and resequence the Magazine recordings in a marathon session over four days. A court-ordered guard stood nearby to prevent the master tapes from being erased.

Now who might this queen be? Should we ask Heart’s producer at the time, Mike Flicker?

Flicker left Mushroom during Heart’s dispute with [A&R guy Shelly] Siegel over Heart’s second album. Siegel moved to the L.A. office.

But really, there’s nothing much to be gained by actually pointing a finger at Siegel, who died in 1979 of an aneurysm, a genuinely nasty way to go.

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By decree of the remix queen

Note for reference: When Rebecca Black recorded “The Great Divide,” it came in two flavors: the original, and the right-on-its heels remix by Crash Cove. And it was the remix that eventually landed halfway up the Billboard dance club chart.

Inexplicably, “Foolish,” which if you ask me is a better song, made no chart noise. So here’s a remix, by Scheir and, yes, Crash Cove:

Says Brian Delaney of Rockdafuqout:

A stark contrast to the original, the two producers teamed up to bring a whole new feel to the track. Speeding it up a bit and leading with some beautifully melodic guitar riffs the track quickly builds into heavy synth work and a drop reminiscent of some of the Chainsmokers best work.

While the original has a nice vibe, this re-work hits way harder and brings dynamics that the original lacked. This will be in heavy rotation in my playlists.

And words of wisdom from the world’s oldest 20-year-old:

Where, indeed?

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Between here and Cloud Nine

“Skydiving” is the second single from the upcoming album Skin & Earth by Canadian musician Lights. The album is due out this fall, and there will be a complete comic — er, graphic novel to go with it. This song managed to transfix me for a whole seven minutes:

And some time during that second play, I realized where I’d heard it before.

No big deal. There are only so many chords, after all.

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A duo of Trios

There’s a dispute now over which of two competing musical groups is the actual Kingston Trio:

The Kingston Trio may have debuted on the folk music scene in the 1950s but an iteration of the band is still touring — and a dispute over who exactly should be in that group has sparked a lawsuit.

On one side is Josh Reynolds, son of founding member Nick Reynolds, and his cousin Gerald “Mike” Marvin.

On the other side is original member Bob Shane, his wife Barbara Childress, musicians George Grove, William Zorn and Richard Dougherty and concert booker Nikki Gary.

Reynolds and Marvin last year entered into a 10-year licensing agreement with Shane and Childress to use the band’s trademark — but, less than a week after paying the $100,000 royalty fee, they found out Gary was booking gigs for Grove, Zorn and Dougherty to perform as The Kingston Trio.

Weirdly, Dougherty and Zorn also played in a latter-day incarnation of The Limeliters.

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The show must go on

She knew something was wrong: there was pedal action when the pedal wasn’t being used. What to do? Maybe a minor adjustment or two. Or, maybe not:

Much as I adore that famed young Chinese pianist and her technical excellence, I don’t think she’d have been able to deal with this situation with anywhere near as much aplomb.

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Drummer 101

On Dave Marsh’s infamous 1988 list of the 1001 greatest rock and soul records of all time, “Wipe Out” was #703, and the way he dealt with it in 1963 wasn’t far off from the way I dealt with it in 1963:

I saw the best minds of my generation laughing maniacally, drumming for hours on study hall desktops with fingers and pencils, eraser-end upwards, not giving a good goddamn whether this was the first version the Surfaris recorded, much less whether it was actually composed by somebody named Merrell Funkhauser, knowing only that this beat was the craziest sound they’d heard and desperately needing to participate, digging into the groove.

Actually, I think it was Merrell Fankhauser; but no, he didn’t write this. Neither did Morton Downey, Jr.

Still, if you’re young enough and you can stay on the beat, you’ve already tried this yourself:

Sina here is from Germany. She’s 18, looks maybe half that, and that’s her dad doing the guitar noises. And she has an album out, which I’ll talk about later.

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Vinyl Sucks

I have to admit, I never expected this:

Cover art for Better Than Nothing by Brad Sucks

Brad Sucks (no, “Sucks” is not his real name) has been a proponent of open-source music for a decade and a half; all his stuff is downloadable and remixable. He’s released three albums of original material over the years, and I never imagined there’d be a Greatest Hits set, especially a Greatest Hits set on vinyl, the least open-source medium of them all.

Side 1, Track 1 is “Making Me Nervous,” from 2003, arguably his most famous song. And here’s a fan-made video (of course) set to that song:

If you’re interested, the vinyl will be out in September. Details and ordering link are here.

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One might almost say “Like a Boss”

Let’s call it “Free Bird Syndrome”: you’re watching Musician A, and you ask him to play a song associated with Musician B. Some A’s, obviously, are better equipped to handle this than others.

Presented with a title, Bruce Springsteen laughed: “We haven’t played [this] since we were, I don’t know, sixteen.” He might even have been right, since the song dates to 1964, the year Springsteen turned 15.

And after a couple of minutes of trying to get the feel of it, the band was ready to go:

Of course, if you can’t play Chuck Berry, I seriously question whether you can play rock and roll in the first place.

(Via Newsner.)

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Let her dream

Skylark was a Canadian band that lasted just long enough to put out two albums and four singles, one of which hit the big time. And that one, I assure you, deserved to:

“Wildflower” was the second of those four singles; the third, “I’ll Have to Go Away,” made a run at the chart but didn’t quite make it. On long-play, “I’ll Have to Go Away” was prefaced by the instrumental “Suite for My Lady.” B. J. Cook sang the lead on this one; Donny Gerard was the voice on “Wildflower.” (Capitol, for some reason, felt compelled to explain the different vocal deployment on the picture sleeve of the single.) At the time, Cook was married to keyboardist/composer David Foster, who eventually became a big-name music producer.

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Beatniks and politics

If you’d told me in 1967 that the Strawberry Alarm Clock would still be a functioning band in 2017, I’d have whupped you with the yardstick for lunatics I used to keep handy for just such emergencies. The SAC had several problems, among them frequent personnel changes, and the fact that the lead singer on “Incense and Peppermints,” their biggest hit, wasn’t even a member of the band. Bassist George Bunnell explains:

One of those things where nobody thinks that at the moment, what you’re doing is going to be successful. The song wasn’t fitting anybody. Greg Munford happened to just be sitting there in the session, and Greg also had the same manager and producer. He was doing his own project simultaneously. They asked him to try it, and it was right in his wheelhouse. So he did it and it was exactly how you hear it. He was not in the band, and then the song started to have success. Then they asked Greg Munford if he wanted to be in the band and he didn’t. He had his own thing. The band went off and never had the lead singer of that song in the band. Completely stupid.

SAC was signed to Uni Records, a West Coast outpost which was expected to be hipper than mother Decca. (Which it was; their labelmates included Desmond Dekker, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, and, um, Elton John.) They never again hit the Top 40, but they did produce some interesting singles. One of them was a B-side: “Pretty Song from Psych-Out,” which is exactly what it was: a pretty song (by group members Lee Freeman and Ed King) from Psych-Out, a 1968 American International drugsploitation film in which the band appeared and played three songs, none of which was the “Pretty Song.” (The version on the Psych-Out soundtrack album was performed by The Storybook.) I played this 45 to death:

“Pretty Song” was the flip of “Sit With the Guru” (!), which struggled to #65.

To start out the Seventies, the Clock toured the South; for one concert series, their opening act was, um, Lynyrd Skynyrd. (As SAC fragmented, Skynyrd asked Ed King to join them, which he did.)

We close with “Sit With the Guru,” live in 2012, because of course we do.

(Provoked, like so many of these, by Roger Green.)

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Don’t shake this off

The night Grace VanderWaal got the Golden Whatzit on America’s Got Talent, Simon Cowell told her she might be the next Taylor Swift. And this is as Swiftian a song as I’ve heard since Tay’s 1989. Can’t embed the video, but what matters here is the audio:

And I swear, Grace is going for that Swiftian silhouette: she’s grown several inches in the last year, all of them vertical.

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Maybe it’s over there

“This Isn’t the Place” is the middle track of the new Nine Inch Nails EP Add Violence, which drops with great force tomorrow:

That sudden ending suggests to me that this goes right into the next track, “Not Anymore.”

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A real snootful

Americans love that new-car smell; they’ll even buy synthetic new-car smell in a spray bottle, just to prolong the ecstasy.

The Chinese, however, aren’t having any of that:

Chinese would rather their cars didn’t smell of anything — a cultural divide that’s testing car makers seeking an edge to revive sales in the world’s biggest auto market.

At Ford Motor Company, for example, 18 smell assessors — dubbed “golden noses” — at its research plant outside the eastern city of Nanjing test the smell of each material that goes inside a Ford car to be sold in China and around Asia.

The China smell test isn’t unique, but illustrates the lengths automakers go to to attract buyers in markets where consumer attitudes vary widely.

Very few Chinese-built cars are sold in the States — yet. I have to figure that eventually the importers will start spritzing the interiors with that aftermarket stuff.

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More laurels yet

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Musical America Artist of the Year for 2017:

Yuja Wang before a concert in Munich 16 July 2017

She represents a new breed — the complete, thoroughly modern package. Wearing stunning gowns chosen specifically to match the repertoire she is playing, she has cultivated a persona of visual beauty as well as musical brilliance. And then there are those dynamite encores — wow!

In a recent video for Giorgio Armani, Musical America’s Artist of the Year, Yuja Wang, performs Liszt’s arrangement of Schubert’s Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel, the work’s dark, dulcet tones swirling against a dimly lit backdrop of piano and pianist as the music gently weaves a spell of soulful mystery. The performance, technically impeccable and full of subdued passion, is intercut with images of Yuja in a variety of tasteful fashion poses. There was a time when this would have raised eyebrows, along with protestations about classical music’s chaste role in a world full of commercial taint. Welcome to the 21st century, when women play the piano as well as men and feel free to flaunt their other gifts as well.

On the off-chance that you might have wanted to hear the entirety of Gretchen am Spinnrade:

She is, after all, only thirty, so I can believe this:

She has a keen interest in popular culture as well. Hence her attention to fashion, as well as her usual reported practice of listening to rock music before stepping out on stage. She uses Spotify to keep on top of new things, and goes to live concerts as often as possible. Though she values working with older masters, she loved performing with Gustavo Dudamel’s Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolivar (“What a crazy bunch of outrageous musicians!”) partly because they are mostly her age, and their youthful outlook matched her own. After the concert, she reports, they could all agree, “Let’s go to a bar and listen to electronic music.”

A party girl? Who knew?

Yuja Wang after a concert in Munich 16 July 2017

Here, she plays some fiendishly difficult Bartók, with Dudamel at the helm of the Los Angeles Philarmonic:

You’ve had a rough night, mademoiselle. Is there somewhere we can take you?

Yuja Wang gets a ride to somewhere 2017

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Looking up from a groove

Cover art for Under the Mountain by DaJakalWikipedia will tell you that house music is “a genre of electronic music created by club DJs and music producers in Chicago in the early 1980s.” Which is true as far as it goes; but if that were all there was to it, it wouldn’t still be here in the late 2010s.

So much has been incorporated into house in recent years that sometimes you wonder if you’ve happened upon some whacked-out sub-sub-subgenre. I wasn’t sure what to make of this EP by DaJakal, and hell, I actually know the guy; I’ve heard a lot of stuff he’s done in this decade, and this sounds like none of it. The iTunes store lists Under the Mountain under “House,” but keep in mind that they list Taylor Swift’s 1989 as “Country & Folk,” so take that with several grains of salt. The five tracks here are, as required by the genre, compulsively rhythmic; but DaJakal does textures with the greatest of ease, and there isn’t a single gratuitous or unnecessary instrument to be heard.

Note: “King of the Mountain” is listed here as an instrumental, and that’s indeed what it is, but since no vocal version is provided, I’ll have to assume that it’s coming in the next release. (Which wouldn’t be a bad idea, since I think it’s the weakest track of the set.)

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But never, ever pitiful

Linda Ronstadt hasn’t sung so much as a note in public for most of a decade; Parkinson’s disease has taken what can only be described as a terrible toll. But during her four decades as a musical legend, she gave us some of our favorite records and a few thoughts which we will not dwell on here.

Linda Ronstadt holds serve

Linda Ronstadt stands there demurely

Waiting for the Double E

Warren Zevon wasn’t exactly a star when Linda recorded “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” and her cover version, released early in 1978, fell just short of the Top 30 in Billboard. She says she learned it from Jackson Browne, who’d produced Zevon’s own version. The video here is the standard album track, from Simple Dreams, with rather a lot of more or less vintage photos pasted over the audio.

Its chart position notwithstanding, it’s one of her best-remembered songs. At the opposite end of the familiarity spectrum, there’s this seriously weird commercial for the Remington electric razor:

And yes, that was Frank Zappa. This was a radio spot, over which a fan dubbed some startlingly appropriate visuals.

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Before Iggy’s time

There were in fact six Stooges, but you only got to see them three at a time. A re-recording was issued in 1959, but this is the original, as seen in a 1938 Columbia two-reeler:

I have no idea if this inspired Shirley Shirley Bo Birley in 1964:

And if you wondered why Shirley invoked a relatively uncommon name like Lincoln, it’s a shout-out to her co-writer, producer and manager Lincoln Chase.

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Their eyes are up there

Not that you’re supposed to look at their eyes:

Be Ambitious by Dal ShabetThis spiffy Dal Shabet number from the summer of 2013 isn’t particularly weird as K-pop goes, until you find out that there are two titles: “Be Ambitious,” which is duly rendered on the sleeve in English, and “Look At My Legs,” which clearly doesn’t have to be.

Three days before the scheduled release of “Be Ambitious,” word came down from The Authorities that the lyrics were scurrilous and could not be broadcast on Korean television. New vocal tracks were duly patched in, but there was apprarently no time to reshoot the video. And shortly after the release, a men’s-rights group sought an injunction against Dal Shabet and their management, complaining about the portrayal of the males in this video. A couple weeks later, a joint press conference was held to announce that all charges were being dropped. But the damage was done: “Be Ambitious” was the lowest-selling Dal Shabet single up to that point, moving a mere 500,000 copies to Korea’s ambitious downloaders.

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Beating the spread

K-Chuck Radio has an interesting treatise on the way stereo used to be, complete with samples:

[E]ven producer Phil Spector completely eschewed stereo output, believing that his records sounded much better in mono.

Mind you, that doesn’t mean that record companies DIDN’T produce stereo versions of their big 1950’s and 1960’s hits … and when they did create stereo pressings of their big hits, the stereo versions were a simplified stereo — usually artist is centered in the two speakers, while percussion is shoved into one channel and other instruments reside in the remaining channel. It’s not true binaural stereophonic wonder … but it is a wonder in and of itself.

Often this was due to the limitations of the recording equipment available: sometimes there were only two tracks to be had, which generally explains those recordings with the lead vocal on one side and everything else on the other. Having a third track made things easier: almost all pop records issued in stereo by British Decca in the early to middle Sixties put the singer in the middle, the basic rhythm track to the left, and other instruments and singers on the right. An example: “Black Is Black” by Los Bravos.

EMI was willing to spend bazillions on the Beatles, but the best they had to offer was four-track, all the way through Sgt. Pepper’s. What they could do, however, was bounce tracks between two recorders and combine the various bounces into a final stereo master. Phil Spector had taken this one step further: combine the various bounces into a final mono master. But what few stereo tracks have emerged from Spector’s vault roughly followed the Decca pattern: lead vocal in the center, most of the instruments to the left, and whatever was added last was hung out to the right.

New York’s Bell Sound Studios hadn’t gotten as far as four-track in 1961, which explains, sort of, why Del Shannon’s “Runaway” seems to be mixed a bit weirdly for stereo. In fact, the 45 and the stereo version are two different takes altogether; I’ve often wondered if the stereo take was an afterthought. Be assured that Del’s next single, “Hats Off to Larry,” had no such anomalies.

(Via Roger Green.)

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Consider her still here

You have to dial back quite a number of years before you get to a point where Reba McEntire wasn’t a presence in country music or in American culture generally: her first album came out 40 years ago, her most recent this past February, and in between (early 1991) came a tragedy, in which one of her band’s two chartered planes crashed into Otay Mountain east of San Diego. She’d always sung, of course, though she expected to come out of Southeastern Oklahoma State University as a schoolteacher.

Reba McEntire in motion

Reba McEntire on the red carpet

Reba McEntire in portrait mode

Since 1976, Reba has released ninety-five singles; her six-year sitcom run notwithstanding, only three of them made it to the Top 40 on the pop chart. The most recent of these is 2009’s “Consider Me Gone”:

This was the second single from the album Keep On Loving You, which has nothing to do with REO Speedwagon.

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Imperfect angel

Apparently nobody knows for certain how old Mariah Carey is: we know her birthday, which is the 27th of March, but we’re not quite sure how many birthdays she’s had, and it’s not like she’s front-page news these days. Still, she sells a fair number of records, and she’s always had the looks to go with the voice.

Mariah Carey on the steps

Mariah Carey draws a crowd

Mariah Carey is backlit

During her 1990s heyday, I paid little attention to Mariah, but then I paid little attention to most musical performers in the 1990s, mostly because I had to put my own life in order, but at least partly because she seemed just a hair gimmicky to me: just because you can sing over a five-octave range doesn’t mean you should. The newer, darker Carey did put out some good records, though, including this Foreigner cover:

The second single from her 2009 album Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, “I Want to Know What Love Is” died at #60 in Billboard— but spent half a year at Number One in Brazil.

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When she was hot

The important thing is to preheat:

Cover for the week: “Uh Huh” by Julia Michaels:

She finds some remarkable stuff, I have to admit.

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Bucking buck privates

Buck Privates was an early-1941 Abbott and Costello film, which introduced the Don Raye/Hughie Prince jump blues called “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” sung by the Andrews Sisters. As technology improved, it was no longer required to have three singers to do three vocal parts, as Bette Midler will readily testify.

And there things stood, until further technology permitted a single singer to triplicate herself on camera:

Michelle Creber is seventeen; among other things, she’s the voice of Apple Bloom on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Here she looks kind of Carol Burnett-y, which fits: like Burnett, she has a gift for physical comedy, and also like Burnett, she has killer gams.

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