These Guys Again

That horrible sound isn’t your hangover, it’s The Portsmouth Sinfonia mauling the opening of  Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, better known as the opening theme of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Almost as bad is Elvis’ band’s unintentionally comic version, featuring botched, out-of-tune horns and cheesy background vocals (The Jordanaires, I assume):

Stuck in My Head

These guys came up on this here blog recently, which I guess is what put this song in my head.  Back in the late 70’s, I occasionally took some flak for liking these guys from people trying a little too hard to be cool.  Whatever.  For me the only valid criteria are: can they write, and can they play & sing?  I think their hits proved they could write, and this polished and disciplined live video shows that they could fucking play.  These are guys at the top of their craft, making it look easy.  Note how they nail the Abbey Road-like vocal harmonies near the end, all while playing instruments and enduring the various discomforts of a live show.  Anyway, Alex Chilton once told me he liked them too, so there.

That said, although I love the verses and chorus of this song, I’ve always had a problem with the instrumental break.  To my ears it’s too busy, and the good-timey dixieland clarinet clashes with the pensive mood of the song.  I guess if you have a dedicated woodwind player, you’ve gotta let him do his bit.  But overall, it’s still a great song.  And of course everyone who plays an MM Stingray is a badass.

40 Years Ago

US release was January, 1980.  Remember when album releases were Big Deals?  You anticipated them (if you were a dork and read up), had to go out and buy one, and, very occasionally, got bowled over when something came out that altered the terrain.  As did this one.

 

Aeolian Schmolian

This song from Procol Harum’s first album has a funny (to me anyway), ironic classical quote that puts the lyrics in perspective.  At 1:39 and 3:04 you get a snippet from the Prince Of Denmark march commonly played at weddings.  To me clearly indicates the lyrics are about a love affair or marriage gone wrong.

On a related note, many people think the organ melody from “Whiter Shade of Pale” was lifted from Bach.  It wasn’t.  Underlying chord progression similar to “Air” from Orchestral Suite #3, but just the chords, not the melody.  Organist Matthew Fisher finally won 40% of songwriting royalties for it in 2006.

By the way, I was thinking more about that dumb “Aeolian Cadences” review.  I think it was a matter of validating the Beatles to snobs.  I think many people who were 30+ in the early 60’s and listened mostly to classical, jazz, swing or show tunes, found themselves liking the Beatles, and some were a little embarrassed about it.  Both my parents told me that the Beatles were the first rock music they ever liked.  The more snobbish and insecure of such people needed a fellow snob to tell them it was all ok.  But he really didn’t have to go make shit up.

Roxy Live

This live version of Grey Lagoons from ‘72 has an insane synth solo by Eno at about 1:25.  Back in the day, this was on a live bootleg called Champagne & Novocaine.  My copy vanished many years ago, so I was thrilled to find this.  Google may have bought and sold my soul and monetized my every impulse, but so far it’s been worth it.  I love YouTube.