Teenage Jesus

So where was Jesus between stunning the temple elders at age 12 and getting baptized at age 30?  Just being the typical lost young boomer, turns out.

And Now For Something Completely Obscure

Electronic pop duo Silver Apples released their first album in ’68.  I believe that makes them the first ever electronic pop band, predating Can, Kraftwerk, et al.  If any of you bastards know of someone prior to these guys, please clue me in.  They sold very few albums, but one somehow ended up in my house in the mid 70’s.  Ignorant that they predated Kraftwerk, I pretty much dismissed them because I didn’t like the songs very much.  They typically set up good initial ideas but, in my opnion, are let down by the singing and trippy lyrics, which creep me out for some reason.   But the electronic sounds are innovative and excellent.  Those sounds come from “The Simeon,” a primitive, homemade synth built by singer Simeon Coxe, an Alabaman.  He was just stringing together old WWII oscillators and claims that at the time  he’d never heard of Moogs or other synthesizers in develpoment.

Silver Apples’ legacy is hard to pin down.  Some 90’s experimental bands have cited them as an influence, but what about the electronic innovators of the 70’s?  You never heard a word about these guys back then, so did they influence Krautrock, Eno, Devo, prog rockers, or just work in a vacuum?  Who knows, but I can’t help but love their oddball creativity.  Very much in the tradition of American cranks innovating alone in the basement or garage.  But overall they show that first usually isn’t best.

Here is their full story, which is very interesting.  If you want to hear more, below is the entire first album and one song, “You and I”, from their second and final album, which was withdrawn soon after release.  The opening of “You and I” is suspiciously like “Station To Station,” but  I have no idea if Bowie was familiar with it.  The whole second album, which I haven’t heard,  is also on YouTube.

Music History: Top Singles, Each Decade

Great twitter thread. I’ve included a few hits.

ARCHIE HENDERSON (@jazzemu_) I am a music historian, and with I have researched the best-selling single of every decade all the way back to 14,000 BC:

Altamont Turns 50

The infamous Altamont Speedway free concert happened fifty years ago last Friday.  Not many humorous moments on that harrowing day, but a priceless one occurs above at about 3:47 as a Hell’s Angel sizes up Jagger.

Todd Rundgren: “A Wizard, A True Star”

Love it or hate it, every serious music nerd should hear this strange album once.  A Wizard, A True Star was released in ’73 when I was 15,  and I soon became addicted (which might explain some things), although some of it annoyed me and still does.  This mash-up of prog, pop, and blue-eyed soul might be the densest, most overly over-dubbed album in history.  There is literally zero space unfilled.  Because of that, there is almost always something interesting going on, even if the song itself isn’t good.  Side one is a medley of song fragments, sort of like side two of Abbey Road produced by a crazier Brian Wilson with access to synthesisers (unfortunately, there’s not a gapless version on YouTube).  The medley sometimes gets cartoonish.  A portion of side two is a medley of Motown covers, which has always seemed a bit random to me. That said, there are plenty of addictive hooks throughout.  Highlights for me are “International Feel” (and its recapitulation, “Le Feel Internacionale,” which ended side 1), “When the Shit Hits the Fan/Sunset Boulevard,”  “Sometimes I don’t Know What to Feel,” and “Just One Victory.”  The anthemic quality of “Just One Victory” can get annoying, and it’s too long, but it has some great melodic and harmonic twists and turns.

I think Todd was trying to blow up his status as an AM radio pop artist.  The previous year he’d had a commercially successful album, Something/Anything?,  which was mostly straight-ahead pop ballads and rockers: it contained “Slut,” often covered by Big Star, as well as the power-pop classic, “Couldn’t I Just Tell You.”  Something/Anything also yielded a couple of big AM hits, the piano-driven “I Saw the Light” and “Hello It’s Me,” that made some people see him as kind of a male Carole King.  I’m guessing that didn’t sit well with him, so he went all-out weird for A Wizard, A True Star.  I’m sure there were hallucinogens involved as well.  It didn’t sell nearly as well as its predecessor.  Fun fact: the month after this album came out, he produced the New York Dolls’ first album.

So what to make of TR?  He was a highly talented multi-intrumentalist and producer, a true master of the studio, and a pioneer of power-pop and prog.  When everything clicked, he could be a very good songwriter.  But he lacked self-censorship.  Something/Anything? is a double ablum with way too much filler.  It could have been a much better single album.  As for A Wizard, A True Star, he really needed to rein in some of the self-indulgent goofiness.  He produced all his own albums, even playing all instruments on many tracks.  He just occasionally needed someone to say “no.”  In that regard, he was like an American version of The Move’s Roy Wood, who had the same issues.  That may not have been a coincidence.  The Move regularly covered “Open My Eyes,” originally by TR’s 60’s band, The Nazz.  And the first time I ever heard The Move’s “Do Ya” was TR covering it live.

Punk Pod

“Punk rock really needs about 10 episodes to do it justice, but we’ll try and tackle [it] anyway. Learn all about this movement right now. “

This is where I learned about Los Saicos. It was fun for an imbecile like me – curious to see what the more refined punko snobs think.

Union Row

THIS IS HUGE! An epic, historic game-changer for Memphis, one requiring all the stars to align for a project of this magnitude to even be considered. According to The Daily Memphian

Supporters believe Union Row, the massive, $950-million office, retail and residential project in downtown Memphis’s blighted east edge will be a catalyst for enormous additional investment.

“That’s a Cinderella story,” Mark Billingsley said in December after he and fellow Shelby County Commissioners voted to pump $100 million into the project.

Developers contend Union Row will create 4,300 jobs and generate $16 million in annual property, sales and hotel taxes. If all phases are completed, the project will be among the largest, if not the largest “mixed-use’’ real estate development in Memphis history.

The project will be built in stages. Phase One, with a construction price tag of about $512 million, represents about half of the overall $950-million venture.

Developers spent $25 million this year — much of it with cash — snatching up an array of parcels where Phase One will rise: Collectively, a 10.8-acre site roughly bounded by Union on the north, Danny Thomas on the east, Beale on the south and Fourth on the west.

Developer J. Kevin Adams believes Union Row will reshape downtown.

“This is the gateway to our downtown,’’ he told a gathering in April at East Memphis’ Crescent Club. “And it’s been blighted for a long time.’’

The site is in decay. Vacant or overgrown lots surrounded by razor wire line the streets amid bits of broken glass. Now out-of-place businesses have agreed to move, including auto repair shop Powerhouse Motors and Lit Restaurant Supply, housed in a repurposed car dealership first opened in 1935.

Demolition is set to begin in October or late fall.

Full article here.