Archive for Tongue and Groove

Speaking now

Most of the time, I can get through Quora with a sentence or two. Sometimes, however, I find myself more greatly motivated: What do you respect and admire most about Taylor Swift?

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She’s somewhere between a very good and a superb lyricist; almost every song in the Swift catalog contains at least one passage that hits you square in the heart. And she’s by all available evidence a firm believer in the idea that those who have been given much are expected to give back. Perhaps most inspiring, though, is the fact that she’s negotiated her contracts with music distributors, not to her best advantage, but to the benefit of musicians who aren’t in a position to command the numbers she does. An example: The nascent Apple Music offered 90 days free to early subscribers, financed by the artists, who would draw no royalties during that period. Swift objected:

“This is not about me. Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field … but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

“These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.”

Apple backpedaled. Quickly.

Taylor Swift has her quirks — her legs are insured for $40 million, and after a long period of contemplation, I don’t see how they’re worth more than $35 million — but I will always wish her well.

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Clef for me

I’ve actually heard this sort of statement more than once:

I am not a big fan of classical music, Rock & Roll is more my style. Lately though I have been listening to classical music when I am driving, mostly because the classical station doesn’t have as much blather (people talking) as other stations. Also, occasionally, depending on the tune playing, I get the feeling of being in a scene from a movie. Scenes where we have someone driving down the road and the soundtrack is playing some classical music are fairly common.

The lack of blather is handy during the late-night hours when I’m trying to get some sleep. (Our local classical station carries the overnight programming from WCPE in Raleigh/Durham.)

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And we’re out of here

In 2016, YG Entertainment, one of those humongous Korean leisure-time conglomerates, announced the disbanding of 2NE1. It wasn’t a surprise, I suppose, since the girls hadn’t released anything new in a while, one had left, and one had been dismissed for, um, pharmaceutical excesses. So “Goodbye,” the last song to be released under the 2NE1 name, might have been one of the most cynical tracks ever released. And yet, somehow, it doesn’t feel that way:

It was nice while it lasted, I guess.

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Take that, Mortimer Snerd

Female ventriloquists have always been fairly uncommon. Female ventriloquists who sing opera …?

I don’t think Edgar Bergen (or Charlie McCarthy) ever once tried to sing Puccini.

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Basses for comparison

In nineteen ought eight, Cadillac won the prestigious Dewar Trophy, and arguably deserved to be called the Standard of the World:

[T]hree Model Ks were selected from stock at the Anglo-American Motor-car Company, Cadillac’s London agent. On Saturday, February 29, the three were driven 25 miles to the Brooklands Circuit, opened only a year before, where they did 10 laps of this oval, another 30 miles.

After resting under [Royal Automotive Club] lock and key, on March 2, 1908, the three Cadillacs were disassembled, each car reduced to a heap of 721 parts. Then R.A.C. officials scrambled everything into a pile of 2163 pieces. What’s more, they chose 89 of these to swap with replacements selected from the dealership’s parts supplies.

The resulting heap was categorized into three appropriate piles, from which three Model Ks were reassembled. These three “harlequin cars” were fired up on Thursday morning, March 12, and began lapping Brooklands.

By 2 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 1908, the trio had completed 500 miles. After this, one of them was locked away until the June 1908 R.A.C. Reliability Run, at which it earned a class trophy. And, of course, Cadillac deserved the 1908 Dewar Trophy for this impressive display of parts interchangeability.

It’s been many years since anyone thought of Cadillac as being a world leader in anything, but interchangeable parts are still a thing. Behold Daryl Hall, John Oates, and Diana Ross:

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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Stick several forks in it

Just when I think I’ve figured out K-pop, something like this shows up:

Dropped Friday morning, “Kill This Love,” a title utterly lacking in nuance, rolled up over 100 million YouTube views just this past weekend. It’s getting more of a push on this side of the Pacific, I suspect, because the girls’ recordings are issued here on the big-time Interscope label. And if someone sidles up to you and asks “What’s a cross between Taylor Swift and Rammstein?” you can just give him this link.

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Butterfly bleu

You don’t, or at least I don’t, see something this small and awesome very often:

Inevitably, this called to mind Iron Butterfly’s “Butterfly Bleu,” from their third album; it’s not as iconic as “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida,” but it’s a bit more adventurous.

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This time, give it to me easy

The Zombies are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2019. What better time to do a promotional appearance on American television?

Vocalist Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent remain from the original five; Jim Rodford, who replaced Chris White on bass, died last year. (Son Steve Rodford took over drums in 2004.) Blunstone’s voice has changed markedly in the 50 years (!) since “Time of the Season” was recorded, but that’s to be expected.

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It’s waiting there for you

Postmodern Jukebox, from last fall:

Robyn Adele Anderson, who sang many sessions with PMJ, from this spring:

I’m not sure, but I suspect Rosanna was not available for comment.

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Little jewel

Papa John Phillips, known as such by dint of being one of the Mamas and the Papas — to my knowledge, he’s never been in the pizza business — sired five children, of which Bijou Phillips, who turned 39 yesterday, is the youngest. She’s been described as a “wild child,” probably because she quit school at 14 and moved into a Manhattan apartment. She had a brief career as a model, which she apparently didn’t like, and in 1999, at nineteen, she cut an album, I’d Rather Eat Glass.

Bijou Phillips gives you That Look

Bijou Phillips semi-formal

Bijou Phillips dresses down

She sustained an acting career for better than a decade; after a brief stint on Fox’s Raising Hope, she reported that she was going to devote herself to her family and her health. She and Danny Masterson — they were wed in 2011 — have a five-year-old daughter; in 2017, she had a kidney transplant, presumably not because of eating glass.

And from that one album, this was the single, “Wnen I Hated Him (Don’t Tell Me),” which did not chart:

Phillips has co-writer credits on 11 of the 12 songs, including this one, and wrote the last one herself.

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Slowly walking away

I lost track of the Walker Brothers after about 1976, following their reunion album No Regrets, which wasn’t even released in the States, a weird sort of irony given the fact that the Walkers, apart from not being brothers and not being named Walker, were based in Los Angeles but made a far bigger splash in the UK; for the most part, Mercury Records was content to let us fools think they were a British Invasion act. (Fontana, a Mercury subsidiary in those days, put out a 1967 compilation album called England’s Greatest Hits, which actually contained a Walker Brothers track.)

“No Regrets,” the song, was a late-Sixties Tom Rush number that Scott Walker imbued with enough pathos to support both Charles Aznavour and George Jones. Its failure to get traction in America is a tragedy.

The Walkers — Scott Engel, Gary Leeds and John Maus, although John had adopted the Walker surname on his own before joining up — were at least given decent material. The orchestral wash of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David ballad “Make It Easy On Yourself,” with Scott’s vocals riding across the top, was good enough to buy the track some chart action, maybe even good enough to make you forget that Jerry Butler had recorded it earlier.

The second Big Hit was a cover of a Frankie Valli solo track that went nowhere. Given the same sort of orchestral sweetening as before, plus my favorite non-Hal Blaine drum part ever, it simply had to be a hit:

Number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100. They’d never see that chart again. All three of them recorded solo material, though only Scott had much success; John died in 2011, and Scott died last week.

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He can so do that

Is this the first mashup record? In 1967, Harry Nilsson tucked a cover of the Beatles’ “You Can’t Do That” into his Pandemonium Shadow Show LP, and in a mere 2:20 he managed to toss in references to about twenty other Beatles songs. It went like this:

Which explains how Nilsson got to be John Lennon’s favorite American group. McCartney’s, too.

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The star-making machinery v2.0

An algorithm is now on the artist roster at a major label:

Warner Music has become the first major label to sign a record deal with an algorithm.

The German mood music app Endel has been signed to create 20 albums this year alone with five already released. The app creates personalised soundscapes for users depending on their requirements, whether it be to relax or to focus. The official site refers to it as “a cross-platform audio ecosystem.”

Well, um, okay, if you say so.

The app, currently available on smartphones and via the Amazon Echo, uses inputs such as the time of day and the weather to create certain sounds. So far, the five albums released have been called Clear Night, Rainy Night, Cloudy Afternoon, Cloudy Night and Foggy Morning, all based around different types of sleep.

I suppose “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” is out of the question.

Endel Techstars Music Demo Day Keynote from Endel on Vimeo.

Is this wonderful, creepy, or All Of The Above?

(Via Fark.)

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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.)

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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.

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Man/Black

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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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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Self-expression

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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