June 23, 2015

it’s just a shot away

Back on a good day in 2008, I sat under a hot tent in Golden Gate Park at the Outside Lands festival and talked with burgeoning talent Grace Potter; she was fiery and fascinating and we walked away having articulated that we totally could’ve been friends if we lived in the same place. In that interview she said things like, “Of course it is fun being a woman, and I’m glad to be a woman. But what I’m most fascinated by is a woman artist who can speak realistically, from her soul, and not be bullshitting.” Amen.

So, if we want to talk about speaking from her soul and owning her element in the extreme — ho-ly shit, I have rarely been so (oddly) proud of someone I barely met (but really was impressed with) than I was watching this recent concert video.

Grace’s complete elation rapture at the end of the song is a shining joy to see. Her voice even cracks a little with that raw ferocity reminiscent of that stunning scene with Merry Clayton in 20 Feet From Stardom. Yes.


August 7, 2010

when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose


This song came up on my shuffle on this sunny Saturday morning with all the windows open and the sun glinting off the wooden floors. It sounded so, so right that I’ve put it on repeat and it hasn’t stopped looping yet. That harmonica solo at 2:45 is delicious.

Everyone should have this mp3, and play it loud.

Like A Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan cover) – The Rolling Stones

November 9, 2008

Grace Potter is golden

I saw Grace Potter and the Nocturnals rock a bluesy, soulful set last night before a packed Ogden Theater. In addition to a powerful selection of songs from their own catalog, they worked in a ferocious cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black.”

Just listen to Grace wail on the line about, “I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes…”

Paint It, Black (Rolling Stones cover) – Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
(this version live 10/17/08 at the Orange Peel)

And that picture I shot above reminds me of this cover Grace did in Montreal in September:

Golden (My Morning Jacket cover) – Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

June 28, 2008

From the vaults: The Stones & Papa John Phillips

Previously on Fuel/Friends, we talked a bit about the cool sessions that Mick Jagger recorded with John Lennon during the so-called “Lost Weekend.” Another interesting moment in Stones-related history comes out of their eponymous record label which was launched in 1976. The first solo artist signed to the imprint was Papa John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas.

Recording sessions grew out of a conversation that Phillips had with Jagger during a long weekend of cricket matches in Old Trafford, England in late summer 1976. Back at their hotel, Phillips took out his guitar and showed Jagger some of the material he had been working on. “You really ought to do an album with all these tunes, man,” Jagger said, “They’re great.” Phillips replied, “I’ll make you a deal – if you produce it, I’ll record it.” It was agreed that they would start recording the following week.

Phillips had initially thought Jagger was joking, but 10 days later they were together at Olympic Sound Studios in London with Jagger producing a first track. Among the musicians present were Ron Wood on bass, Mick Taylor and Keith Richards on guitar, and Jagger himself on backing vocals. There was a great synergy present at the sessions, perhaps partly traceable to the fact that Keith Richards had been living with Phillips since earlier that year, and John said that the two would “jam for hours in the upstairs loft, mostly country and blues classics.”

I have this rough recording of a version of Phillips’ song, “Oh Virginia,” which clearly features Jagger’s unmistakable yowl. This is probably from those sessions, although thanks to the mislabeling power of the internet, I can’t say for sure. Either way it’s a rolling, charming ode to the South that gives us a taste of those ten days in London.

Oh Virginia (studio bootleg) – John Phillips & Mick Jagger

After 30+ years, Varese Vintage Records is re-releasing the recently-located original ’70s mix of the album they recorded together, called Pussycat. The release will also include newly-discovered outtakes and material from Phillips’ sessions that same year for the soundtrack for the film The Man Who Fell To Earth, featuring David Bowie (but really, could it possibly be better than this?).

Pussycat will be released September 9th.
Listen to a sample of the album here.

March 20, 2008

A convoluted trail to the pain in my heart

I always love a juicy story of a misappropriated song. It’s terrible when someone else co-opts your writing and makes it their own, and it seems like back in the day there used to be more of it with less complainin’.

So I listened with great interest over on the excellent Grace Potter blog This Is Somewhere when they unearthed a forgotten tune by one Irma Thomas, a soul singer from New Orleans:

Ruler of My Heart – Irma Thomas

If you have an ounce of love in your soul for Mr. Otis Redding (as I do) then you might hear more than an echo of this:

Pain In My Heart – Otis Redding

He called it a “re-interpretation,” and to be sure, his undeniable soul-drenched stamp is all over that. But sounds to me like Irma laid down those original foundations (along with songwriter Allen Toussaint) and may be due a little more credit than just a footnote.

The reason I got started down this whole rabbit trail was because Grace Potter does a pretty smashing cover of it herself, and introduces it as being “actually written by a woman, but performed most famously by a man.”

Represent, fair Grace!

Pain In My Heart (live) – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

And you must watch this live performance, she is ferociously rad:

April 3, 2007

You know I can’t let you slide through my hands

Dodge keeps up his blue streak of cover song finery with the latest collection: all the versions of the Stones’ classic “Wild Horses” you can imagine.

I sent him this one for possible late inclusion as well – such a great song, made (imho) a bit better.

Wild Horses (with Ed Vedder) – The Rolling Stones
9/28/05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh

So the Chipmunks have possessed this post. The streaming feature doesn’t work (it’s all sped up, and oddly enough, Mick’s first words are “We’re gonna slow it down a little bit for you.”) but the downloaded mp3 should play just fine.

February 12, 2007

Monday Music Roundup

My pal Jeff Weiss (who runs the finely-wrought and utterly hilarious Passion Of The Weiss blog) also moonlights with the good folks at Stylus Magazine, and you should read his latest opus for them:
Back To The Future vs. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
. It’s just as awesome as it sounds.

Weiss pits two of the most excellent ’80s films against each other on several battles: Better Protagonist, Better Villain, Better Historical Time-Travel Interaction, Better Time-Traveling Helper, Better Time-Traveling Vehicle, Better Token Females, Better Musicians, and Better Sequel(s). Finally a serious discussion of these important qualifiers. The overall winner is my pick as well — although it is indeed a tough choice. Thanks to Weiss for navigating these rocky waters for us and helping us make an informed choice.

Here’s what else I am enjoying this week:

Hardcore Days and Softcore Nights
I completely missed this one when it came around on the 2005 album I Sold Gold (maybe because I don’t watch The O.C.) but when I heard it last week it hooked me instantaneously with its insane, thumping beats and I’ve listened to it since then on repeat. A lot. You will love it — and although the title sounds like it should be the definitive soundtrack to a porn flick, the lyrics are actually tame and a bit cryptic. Aqueduct is the nom-de-mike of David Terry, and he has a new album Or Give Me Death out on Barsuk February 20th. Stream some new tunes here.

Spencer Dickinson
This is a side project featuring Jon Spencer (o, he of the Blues Explosion) and some of the North Mississippi Allstars (Luther & Cody Dickinson). Recorded in 2000, released in Japan only in 2001, this finally made it to the rest of us last summer as the album The Man Who Lived For Love, on the Yep Roc label. One reviewer said this track sounds like “James Brown on a psychedelic bender,” and there’s enough dirty bluesy funk, electric guitars, Memphis horns, and rowling harmonica on this disc to make anyone do a little backporch jig.

Into The Mystic (live)
Van Morrison
This live cut is from the upcoming compilation Van Morrison At the Movies (out tomorrow), which features Van songs used on film soundtracks — and there are a lot. This one is cited as being in Patch Adams, not that anyone would remember the inclusion of most of these songs into the movies referenced (with the exception of the flawless use of “Comfortably Numb” in The Departed). This is a great collection with unreleased versions of Van songs, and a fine place to start if you haven’t previously added anything from the Irish Soulmaster into your collection. There’s something fine in the world when Van Morrison is playing on the radio.

Untitled Demo
Rosewood Thieves
Here’s a sweet little raw bit of material from burgeoning buzz-band The Rosewood Thieves. It’s not at all like the rollicking blues that I’ve previously loved from them, but instead this understated tune is bittersweet and melodic — all acoustic plucking and harmonica. The guys are working on demos right now for their first full-length LP. Unfortunately because of V2 going belly up, they no longer have a label. Once they finish the demos and find a label they’ll be recording at Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock. Can’t wait to hear the finished product – I think these guys are bursting with talent. [thx for the pic and mp3]

Gimme Shelter (Streetlab remix)
Rolling Stones
Stereogum pointed me in the direction of these Streetlab fellas from Brooklyn, who eloquently remix class songs like this without turning it into something too clubby or dancey. It’s as if your radio that you are listening to ‘Gimme Shelter’ on gets caught up in a tornado, and the music ebbs towards you and then flows back — in and out. Through all of this Mick’s voice comes weaving in. Fantastic. Several other free downloads of their wares are available on the Streetlab MySpace, including a remix of the Smashing Pumpkins song ‘Starla’ that must be experienced.

P.S. – The sun finally came out here this weekend! I went running outside and was going to die (either of sun-soaked happiness or muscular exhaustion, I couldn’t decide which).

January 23, 2007

Whooo, owwww, yeah, and unh

PopMatters has a divine article trying to pin down those varied vocalizations that singers have been throwing in the midst of their songs since time memoriam. Maybe James Brown is the best-known for his off-the-wall hollers, but read about the rest. Here are some snippets from the extremely well-written and entertaining article, as author Zeth Lundy takes you through the different species of yowl — and you know I had to include a few of the songs in question:

The Columbus (or, the Land Ho!)
The wild-eyed whoop of abandon, emitted early when a song kicks into its full roar and meant, in part, as an alarm for the impending auditory devastation. Consider it rock ‘n’ roll etiquette, not unlike that exhibited on the golf green: heads up, ‘cause this one’s gonna rock you in places you didn’t know existed. Gaz Coombes demonstrates this nicely in Supergrass’s Richard III (1997), letting fly a preparatory yell in concurrence with the landslide entry of the bass and drums. He whoops it up like a man who has a storied history with whooping, one which he would probably recount over a few pints even though he’s a bit tired of doing so. This particular example is compounded by how Coombes sets up the holler with a brief prelude of tritone guitar riffage—ye olde Devil’s interval!—that stokes the song’s start-up with a bit of horned provocation. See also: the Faces’ Stay With Me (1971), at the moment that the double-time intro downshifts to that filthy pub shuffle—as good a time as any for Rod Stewart to launch a Columbus, back when a Rod Stewart Columbus actually meant something.

The Phantom Columbus
Quite possibly the most common and unnoticed improvisatory hoot, this occurs deep in the background of a song’s mix, always at a moment where all other instruments drop out, and usually at the song’s onset. In essence, it’s a Columbus (the hasty shout-out predicting some kind of calamitous rapture), but it’s not necessarily one intended to be heard by the public at-large, since it’s only serendipitously picked up by a microphone that just happens to be dedicated to another instrument. Really listen—put on the noise-isolating headphones, crank up the volume to that decibel the doctor warned you about—and you’ll catch more Phantom Columbuses than you’ll care to count. Two songs in particular sport perceptible examples of this holler:
Superdrag’s Sold You an Alibi (1998) and Mission of Burma’s 2wice (2006). It occurs during the opening of both songs, between the gutsy plunges of the former’s wicked guitar riff and immediately after the latter’s colossal solo drum foundation. See also: the first few seconds of the Rolling Stones’ Can’t You Hear Me Knocking (1971), soon after the drums are introduced to that impeccably slouching guitar.

Read the whole “Hoots, Hollers and Barbaric Yawps” article

I think the most elusive of the vocalizations (and my personal favorite to imitate on road-trips) is hands-down the “shmoa“:

Man In The Mirror – Michael Jackson

December 23, 2006

My heart’s beatin’ rhythm and my soul keeps on singin’ the blues: Rolling Stones Outtakes

How about finding a whole disc full of Rolling Stones gems and studio outtakes from throughout their career that you may not have heard before? Would that warm up your December? Yeah, me too. Hot dang, these are great.

The good folks over at alt.rocknroll.stones put together this ace collection — and since it’s chosen by the uberfans, you know it’s the best of the best outtakes. From the recognizable opening riff of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” and other covers, into the loose-bluesy groove and straight-up Rolling Stones sound you love, this collection got me very excited.

Don’t miss the sad and sweet vibe of “Stuck Out All Alone” or the electric groove of “Memo From Turner.” Lots of studio banter on several of these, joking around and musical experimentation. The instrumental “Ivy League” is very appealing, and dig the screams that start off “Livin’ In A Harder Love.”

This is a rough and fun collection, vital listening.

The tracklist for these Stones goodies is:

Roll Over Beethoven (1964, Chuck Berry cover)
Crackin’ Up (1964, Bo Diddley cover)
Beautiful Delilah (1964, Chuck Berry cover)
And Mr. Spector and Mr. Pitney Came Too (1965 – instrumental version of Andrews Blues)
Lookin’ Tired (1966 outtake)
Stuck Out All Alone / Hamburger To Go (1968)
Memo From Turner (1968)
Ain’t Gonna Lie (1970)
Good Time Woman (1971)
Livin’ In A Harder Love (1974)
Yellow Cab (Do You Think I Care?) (1978)
My First Plea (1978, Jimmy Reed cover)
Claudine (Long version, 1979)
No Spare Parts (1978 outtake)
Strictly Memphis (Step On It) (1985)
Ivy League (mostly instrumental, 1994)
Zip Mouth Angel (1994)
Middle Of The Sea (1994)
Cocaine Blues (1994, trad/Bob Dylan cover)

I found these over at my friend Rich’s fine blog, which is also currently hosting some rad Beatles “Revolution” bootleg material, and always unearthing great music. I also got a lot of background info on these version at this fine site for the very thorough.

October 8, 2006

The Departed: Lots of blood and a kickass soundtrack

The Departed is Martin Scorsese’s visceral new flick: 2 1/2 hours of a tightly intelligent plotline, fascinating character studies, lots of caffeinated jump-cut cinematography, more “f**ck”s than you can shake a stick at, and a greater nunber of brains being blown out at close range than I personally care to see.

I guess I’ll never infiltrate the Boston mob (because all the violence truthfully left me feeling a little nauseated), but the soundtrack left me elated and tapping my foot furiously in my red velvet rocking seat. Here is a sampling of what you’ll hear, woven into the film at exactly the right places. The soundtrack is really superb, just what you’d expect from Scorsese: The Rolling Stones capture that rough & tumble Seventies inner-city swagger, while Van Morrison lends his pipes to a lovely live version of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” during a scene of gnawing loneliness and aching lust. John Lennon’s in there, as are the Isley Brothers, the Beach Boys, Dropkick Murphys, Patsy Cline, and even Nas. It’s a real joy to listen to.

Gimme Shelter” – Rolling Stones

Let It Loose” – Rolling Stones

Well, Well, Well” – John Lennon

Sail On, Sailor” – The Beach Boys

Comfortably Numb” – Van Morrison live w/ Roger Waters
(1990, Berlin)

Speaking of soundtracks, keep those fantastic comments coming for that contest I opened up on Friday! I am immensely enjoying all the articulate and passionate rambles about the movie music that you love. I’ve added several films to my Netflix queue that I’d overlooked, and have been re-appreciating the classiness of the Rushmore soundtrack all weekend. Keep it up, and it’s gonna be delightfully hard to nail the winner.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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