Archive for Tongue and Groove

In memory of Royal Payne-Diaz

Roger has had monarchs on his mind:

I woke up on my birthday morning this month thinking about the king in chess. It’s the weakest piece, except for the pawns. It can only move one space at a time, save for castling, which can only take place once a game.

Yet the very point of the game is to capture the king. It led to a melisma of thoughts about how we need to protect the most vulnerable among us. Dreams, and exhaustion, will do that to you.

It’s true. Having the title and having the power are two entirely different things.

Then I thought of all the people who have been dubbed the “king of” some aspect of life. “I’m king of the world,” Jack Dawson (Leo DeCaprio) shouts, not long before he dies in the cold Atlantic in the movie Titanic (1997).

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,” said Shakespeare’s Henry IV; he knew that not everyone was impressed by his rule.

And then there’s this:

For those keeping score: Henry IV ascended the throne in 1399 after deposing Richard II.

(Title swiped from the closing credits of Car Talk.)


The undisputed King

Did Dick Dale ever get tired of playing “Misirlou”? From this session, recorded when he was 71, I’m guessing he didn’t:

Dale said that he had to keep touring just to afford his medical bills, which is a shame, but it never seemed to affect his playing.

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Welcome back, Johnny

The irrepressible John B. Sebastian brings along one of his Sixties songs, and it’s just perfect for the MonaLisa Twins:

Just too cute.

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And his famous ashtray

Eleven minutes of the man who played drums on more of the records on your shelf than you possibly imagined:

If Hal Blaine had done only the one record, the Ronettes’ ineffable “Be My Baby,” he’d still be revered today.

And right about now, God is asking “Would you show Me how you did that triplet thing?”

(Title from the Beach Boys’ pseudo-live cover of “Barbara Ann.”)

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Way ahead of third

Once again, we take our lead from Brian J.:

[WSIE] recently introduced me to Cindy Bradley who sounds a little like later Herb Alpert. She might be the second prettiest trumpeter in the world.

There was no way I was going to let that go by unnoticed:

In other news, Dubai has a jazz festival.

Cindy Bradley plays it loud

Born near Buffalo in 1977, she first studied the piano, but they weren’t teaching piano in grade-school music classes, so she picked up the trumpet.

Cindy Bradley is ready to go

And today, when she’s not recording or touring, she’s teaching band to students in New Jersey.

Cindy Bradley in portrait mode

“Massive Transit” is from her 2011 album Unscripted.

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Believe me, you’ve heard worse

And I liked it:

As I called it on a review of Dot Wiggin’s 2013 album:

… intensely personal, fiercely melodic, idiosyncratic songs that don’t match up to any genre you’ve ever heard of.

Of course, if you prefer your idiosyncratic songs fiercely unmelodic, any of these 92 albums should fill the bill nicely.



We open with just a hint of Wikipedantry:

Man Man is an experimental band from Philadelphia. Their multi-instrumental style is centered on the piano playing of lead singer and lyricist Honus Honus. On recordings, Honus usually plays piano but during the live shows he uses a Rhodes Piano or a Nord Electro 3. He is accompanied by an energetic group of musicians and vocalists. Instruments played by the band include a clavinet, Moog Little Phatty, sousaphone, saxophone, trumpet, French horn, flute, bass clarinet, drum set, euphonium, Fender Jazz Bass, Danelectro baritone guitar, xylophone, marimba, melodica and various percussive instruments including pots and pans, toy noisemakers, Chinese funeral horns, spoons, smashing plates, and fireworks.

And thence to Stereogum, where we find:

Man Man frontman Honus Honus broke the news [Wednesday] on Instagram: Rebecca Black will be the band’s “special guest” at a few of the forthcoming shows on the band’s March West Coast tour. Presumably, this does not mean that she’ll do a traditional opening set. I’m imagining she’ll come out at the peak of Man Man’s set for a huge, cathartic “Friday” singalong.

By “a few” is apparently meant four out of seven.

And I figure, hey, she’s not going to displace the likes of Ariana Grande, so why not raise the freak flag for a few days?


Loud music

Roger’s list of Loud Songs slightly overlaps mine — there is no way to listen quietly to “Won’t Get Fooled Again” — but it also sent me off in a couple of different directions. First into the brain was Michelle Branch’s “Loud Music,” from her 2011 unreleased album West Coast Time, eventually turned loose on an EP:

For some reason, every time I play this song, it gets a little louder.

Still, one must visit the prog-rock universe and its 96-decibel freaks from time to time, and this track has both volume and ferocity. From the first, also the last, LP by Emerson, Lake and Powell, Cozy Powell on the trap set where Carl Palmer used to be. Greg Lake is in good voice here:

Whoever’s in charge of irony out here will note that only Palmer is still alive.

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It’s a nasty business

“The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.” ~ Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

In later years, this bit of Gonzo wisdom was rewritten to denounce the music industry, and I suspect that’s fine with Kim du Toit:

It is a fact of life in the music business, where creative people are happy just to get an opportunity to create music, make albums and perform at concerts for their fans; while in the background the loathsome accountants and managers collect the money, demand more and more “product” from the artists, and try to justify their greed and rapacity by pleading that they “invest” in the artists and are therefore entitled to a return on their investment.

I recently watched the biopic of the late Amy Winehouse, the British jazz singer and ultimate Train Smash Woman, on Netflix. I would urge everyone to watch it — if you can stomach it all the way through — to see exactly what I’m talking about in the previous paragraph. All Amy had was boundless talent; all she lacked was maturity, common sense, guidance, protection and security, and nobody ever helped her by giving her any of it. Instead, her life was one long catalog of exploitation, enabling and vampire-like sucking of everything she had, with the predictable outcome. And she didn’t deserve any of it. To say Amy was vulnerable would be guilty of gross understatement, and her world treated her like a sadist would kick a newborn puppy, just because the squeals sounded good.

The fourth single from Back to Black, “Tears Dry on Their Own” owed a lot to Motown, and specifically to Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, whose “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” in the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell version, lurks inside the rhythm section.


Come on over, baby

Were I tasked with assembling a list of Great Album Titles, I would be required to include this one:

Cover art for There's a Whole Lalo Schifrin Going On

I am told that announcer Gary Owens on KMPC in Los Angeles once actually said this of a Schifrin recording being played, and there was no way it wasn’t going to be the title of the next LP.

Recorded over three days in March 1968, TWLSGO was issued on Dot DLP 25852; it was the follow-up to Music from Mission: Impossible. The whole thing is on YouTube.


Fetch some of that jollity over here

Gustav Holst’s The Planets consists of seven movements; there’s nothing for Earth because Earth has enough stuff already, and Pluto hadn’t even been discovered, let alone demoted. Jupiter, right in the middle, is responsible, says Holst and his copy of The Zodiac for Contemporary Composers, for jollity, although fitted with words — say, the words of Sir Cecil Spring Rice — it’s decorous enough for Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Well, maybe not when it’s scored for five pianos:

And at the outro, you’ll be reminded of a planet with which Holst was utterly unfamiliar.

(Via American Digest.)

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You know she’s no good

French comedian Florence Foresti, whom we last saw mocking French politician Ségolène Royal, here tries her hand at making fun of Amy Winehouse:

Too soon, maybe?


Racked with indecision

I think we can safely say that Meg Myles knew what she had and knew how to use it.

Meg Myles on the edge of her seat

Meg Myles with a broken bat

Meg Myles in fishnets

Meg’s Wikipedia page neglects to mention that she recorded three LPs, one of which contains “Phenix City Blues,” which she sang in the 1955 film The Phenix City Story:

She’s long since retired, but she’s still around at age 84.

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And all that jazz

From sixty years ago, a prime example of Ken Nordine’s Word Jazz, spoken words that can be danced to:

And from even before that, he narrated this wild desert tale:

Nordine died this week, just short of his 99th birthday.


Hem but no haw

If at times it seems that girl groups in the K-pop universe are competing to see how much thigh can be revealed in a short time, well, I am not one to complain about such things, and YouTube is cooperating by recommending videos that conform to this stereotype. AOA, which seems to be an abbreviation for “Ace of Angels,” whatever that may mean, put out this jaunty little number in 2014:

Although at the very end, kitteh reminds you what really matters.

“Miniskirt” is just a hair closer to R&B than most K-pop, which I attribute to the presence of composer/producer Brave Brothers (Kang Dong-chul), who is pushing 40 and has had far more musical influences along the way than have the usual aggregations of a half-dozen post-adolescent singers.

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Says our favorite teenage drummer, who by now must be pushing 20:

I wrote this little tune with a little help from my dad and recorded all instruments I found in our basement, enjoy!

They had a lot of stuff down there.

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Only some Northern songs

Let me tell you how it might be:

It’s all too much.

(With thanks to Marc Wielage.)

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Anywhere, anyhow

And just when I’d gotten used to Rebecca Black dropping new music on, um, Friday, this one appeared on Thursday:

Really, it could have come out Monday noon, and I’d still grab a copy.


Down on the old tone row

Now is the winter of our dissonance:

No, no. I said “Rustic,” not Wozzeck.

(Via Zoopraxiscope.)

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In surreal life

French singer Jain is known for her fondness for African polyrhythms and for her utterly wacko videos. What would happen were she to put out a live video?

We take you now to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in beautiful downtown Barcelona:

Utterly wacko, of course.

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This’ll kill you

Points to this one just for the cover:

Alfred Hitchcock Presents Music to Be Murdered By

Two wholly different albums are combined into this set. Hitchcock is heard only on the first, a collection of “mood music in a jugular vein” released by Imperial in 1958. The second is the original soundtrack to the 1960 scarefest Circus of Horrors, which Hitch had nothing to do with, but it seems murderous enough in its own right.

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Who knew there were words?

Jack Jones sings “The Lonely Bull”:

“In this ring today he’ll die” is just a hair offputting.

Herb Alpert — remember him? — was the bandleader on this session, and that’s almost certainly Herb’s trumpet we hear.

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Hobson’s other choice

You may remember the song “Yes or Yes” by the Korean girl group Twice. (If you don’t, it’s here.)

Now, what say we swap major chords for minors, and play it as a piano solo? That’s right — you’ve got “No or No”:

I think I might actually like this take better.

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Forward to February

Kim du Toit sends this along:

I wish Taylor Swift would write a song titled 'Maybe I'm the Problem'.

This is as close as she — as anyone — ever gets:

And it’s even enough to forgive her for “Look What You Made Me Do.”

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Ways to be found

At least a hundred:

This track was on Quincy Jones’ 1981 album The Dude; as was Q’s wont, he brought in talented friends, and James Ingram qualified on both counts. “One Hundred Ways” won the 1982 Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance.

Ingram was all over Q’s productions: the two of them teamed up to write “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” for Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, which you most certainly have. Jones, Ingram, reliable R&B songwriter Rod Temperton, and burry-voiced Michael McDonald collaborated on this little religious number:

This song has somehow grown on me since its 1983 release.

Alas, James Ingram is no longer with us: brain cancer got him, a few weeks before his 67th birthday. Yah B there for him, we pray.

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Would you believe that?

The market for Elvis remixes has always been strong, and some geniuses somewhere figured that this was just the background for shuffle dancing:

“His Latest Flame,” a Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman confection, was first recorded by Del Shannon in the spring of 1961; the Elvis version appeared at the end of summer. So this summery video fits wonderfully well. (Can Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez do these steps? Of course she can.)

The dance somehow found its way to mainland China:

But as Mojo Nixon once pointed out, Elvis is everywhere.


Comparatively speaking

“The Holy Grail of bro-country songs,” says the Fark blurber:

This came out in October and apparently is just now going viral.

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Gangtai style

“Gangtai” is a subset of Chinese pop music, romantic rather than revolutionary, not allowed on the mainland until the middle 1970s, though it flourished in Taiwan and Hong Kong before Beijing decided to let it come across. One of the first actual hits from gangtai was “The Moon Represents My Heart,” sung by several but not truly iconic until Teresa Tang recorded it in 1977.

Teng, born in Taiwan in 1953, got her first record deal at fifteen; five years later, she managed to crack the Japanese market, and recorded material in Cantonese and Mandarin in the expectation that she could do the same in China.

Teresa Teng on stage in the early days

Teresa Teng's Greatest Hits

Teresa Teng's dazzling smile

Beijing decided shortly thereafter that this bourgeois love-song stuff was incompatible with the revolution after all. Red China, however, was not prepared for the black market, and the ban didn’t last long. Unfortunately, neither did Teresa Teng; while on holiday in Thailand in 1995, she suffered a severe asthma attack and died.

“The Moon Represents My Heart” remains a popular-music icon today, covered by famous Pacific Rim singers like, um, Jon Bon Jovi.

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Becky’s in black

The song is called “LBD,” and that’s what it’s about:

If you’re puzzled by that verse in Spanish, well, the G is for Gomez.


And a bum ba dum bum bum bum bum to you

I probably should have expected this.

Last week, I posted this highly unofficial little number to Facebook:

This weekend, I started seeing ads for Farmers on several Web sites, including Fark.

Moral: Everything is tracked at some level.