Favorite Stories Song

This one’s a little soft for this blog, but what can I say?  Great melodies and harmonies.  I seem to be obsessed with early 70’s pop-rock and glam for the past year or two.  Maybe as people get older, they revisit their early teenage years?

Anyhoo, Stories was a NYC band trying to continue the Beatles’ legacy.   Only a few other bands were trying that at the time–The Move, Bandfinger, Big Star, sometimes Todd Rundgren–and they all were squeezed between the dominant trends of heavy blues-rock and glam.  TR and the Move always kept one foot in prog and glam, which broadened their appeal.   Badfinger kept things current with a heavy guitar sound.  And you all know the fate of Big Star.  The story of Stories is weirder:  they had a #1 crossover r&b hit,  a cover of Hot Chocolate’s “Brother Louie.”  The huge success of a song outside of their usual genre eventually led to their demise.  A tour at the height of the single’s popularity had them performing for a strange mixture of black and white fans of soul and rock, a truly odd situation for a Brit-pop band.  Like their fellow pop bands of the time, they influenced the late 70’s explosion of power pop.  Tommy Hoehn’s first album sounds like a lost Stories album, or Stories outtakes recorded by a less talented band.  Stories’ albums, like most others, are hit and miss, containing both good songs and duds.

By they way, Stories main songwriter, founder and keyboardist, Michael Brown, had been the leader of the 60’s baroque-pop band, The Left Banke, best known for their monster hit, “Walk Away Renee” and “She May Call You Up Tonight,” later covered by the Bangles.  Here’s the original, if you haven’t heard it:

Bastard Tested, Bastard Approved?

I’m not sure that a discussion about this band is allowed on this forum, but I need to weigh in on Tool.

I hadn’t hear one of their songs(except Sober)  until a couple of weeks ago, after they released a new song, and finally got their stuff on streaming platforms. I was too busy studying the pie hole back in to 90’s to pay attention to them, and I certainly wasn’t going to spend money on a CD from a band who’s logo is a wrench that looks like a dick. Plus their songs are really long, and that’s saying something coming from a jam band fan boy.

Fast forward to Labor Day weekend… I’m hooked. I basically spent last weekend working my way through their albums, and I’m digging me some Tool. I don’t even know what you’d call it… metal? It’s prog rock for sure, and it’s pretty heavy.

Any of you bastards listen to these guys? They’re a bit different from the normal stuff here on the blargh. If you haven’t heard them, here’s a few to get you started. If you like really long songs with a shit ton of fuzzy distorted guitar, and a drummer that sounds just like Neil Peart, you might like Tool. Here’s a couple to get you started…

So I guess I’m in the Tool army, and I’ll be seeing them November 8…

Hooray for Algorithms

Anyone heard this Icelandic trio, Samaris?  They just popped up on my YouTube home screen yesterday.  Great synth player, and the clarinetist reminds me of Andy McKay’s oboe and sax playing on some early Roxy Music songs.  Nerdgasmic fact:  clarinet melody very close to one by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.  She must have picked it up in youth orchestra.  Anyway, if you don’t like the music, I think we can all agree that the singer is uber-hot.

Below is a more recent KEXP broadcast that I’ve only watched a bit of.  I’m curious to see if they can stay interesting for half an hour.

Get In My Eyes

In space no one can hear you squeal like a little girl.

Take an in depth voyage into the sci-fi masterpiece ALIEN with the visionary filmmakers who created it. See how one of the most terrifying movies of all time burst to life 40 years ago, inspired by ancient mythology and our universal fears.

Available in some theaters and OnDemand starting October 4!

Marc Bolan Doc

A decent overview of his brief career.  He may have been a one-trick pony, but three-chord glam doesn’t get any better than Electric Warrior, The Slider, and part of Tanx.  Bowie ascended as Bolan peaked, and I can’t help but wonder if he shape-shifted with one icy-blue eye on Bolan’s commercial fate.  And if you think Tony Visconti just played a minor role in Bolan’s music, well you can just think again!

More from The Move

Above is a maddeningly catchy Roy Wood song by the Move from 1971.  If you’re unfamiliar with the Move, they began in the mid 60’s as a moddish, quirky R&B /psych-pop band.  Their writer and driving force was the insanely talented mult-instrumentalist, Roy Wood.  By the early 70’s, their work ranged from smart pop to bloated prog, sometimes within the same song.  By that time Wood had brought in fellow Birmingham native Jeff Lyne to take on some of the singing and songwriting load.   Then, Wood (allegedly) came up with the idea of forming a new band to further incorporate their love of classical music.  Thus the Move became Electric Light Orchestra.  Wood wrote most of the material for ELO’s first album before abruptly departing.  Over the next few years Lynne developed as a singer, writer, and producer, and the ELO hit machine took off.  Meanwhile,  Roy Wood made some brilliant, hook-laden, and ridiculously quirky solo albums on which he played all instruments.  He indulged his prog instincts in a band called Wizzard that I find pretty unlistenable.  Pretty much all of his work was too nerdishly clever or downright strange to be very successful.  To my ears, his infuence can be heard in ELO far past his departure in the kitschy, oddball, and bombastic arrangements.  In fact, I’d argue that ELO (along with Queen) most successfully used classical influences because they understood that what they were doing was kitsch, and played that to the hilt.  In contrast, most prog bands just took themselves far too seriously.

Below is another great one from a few years earlier, 1968 I think.  I’m pretty sure I hear the origins of ELO in the mock-siren background vocals.

Proto-Power-Pop

The Nazz was Todd Rundgren’s band in the late 60’s.  This psych-pop song was highly influential on 70’s power-pop bands as they formed.  Interestingly, these guys, along with the Move, were pioneers in both power pop and progressive rock.  Genres were fluid then, still formulating, so bands picking up on the experimental pop of the Beatles often found themselves pulled in both directions.  By the mid 70’s the lines were clearer, and by the late 70’s prog-rockers and power-pop/punk guys barely spoke to each other.