Loss Leaders

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Brunch Tunes: Solomon Burke - The King of Rock n' Soul

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Solomon Burke's two albums from 1968 have been rereleased in a two-fer package of King Solomon / I Wish I Knew . Solomon's greatest hits compilations are essential for the hits. But this twofer is a great way to hear Solomon's music in context. His cross-over potential between R&B and Country music is evident in these sessions covering everyone from Spooner Oldham & Dan Penn, to Allen Toussaint, Joe Tex, and Don Covay.

We did a Guest DJ session on KCRW's The Open Road with Solomon Burke on October 20, 2002 right before he opened for the Rolling Stones at the Wiltern in Los Angeles. In it King Solomon discussed his album Don't Give Up On Me which returned him to national prominence and included new songs written by Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello,and Tom Waits. Solomon also played some of his favorite tunes from the past 40 years, including "Soul Meeting'" with Joe Tex, Don Covay, Ben E. King and Arthur Conley. Other highlites include a brilliant version of "Proud Mary" and the original Tom Waits demo for "Diamond In Your Mind." My favorite moment is the once in a lifetime live take of Solomon Burke reciting the lyrics to his original "The Price" over his cover of Elvis Costello's "Judgement" which was written as a sequel to the 1964 song. The effect of the older Burke singing a dueting with the younger Burke is more than powerful.

Solomon Burke's soulful, funky, spiritual and passionate music has changed my life. It's also often a lot of fun!

Listen to these great Solomon Burke songs:
Don Covay's Party People
The Staples Singers' It's Been a Change
Spooner Oldham & Dan Penn's Take Me (Just As I Am)
Ray Charles' What'd I Say

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Brunch Tunes: David Byrne's Brazil Classics Vol. 1, Beleza Tropical"

I'm getting my Brazillian groove on and cooking pancakes as I write this!

David Byrne's Brazil Classics, Beleza Tropical preceded the height of popularity of Tropicalia during the latter part of the 1990s. Performers include like Beck, Dios Malos and others were as influennced by tropicalia as they were American songwriters. This compilation includes such influential Brazilian musicials as Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, and Jorge Ben and their recordings from the 1970s and '80s. This album is a wonderful portal into a world of inspired and brilliant music. Byrne deserves some big credit for conqureing one of the main challenges inherent in the World Music genre in the late 1980s: access. Expertly chosen, David Byrne's Brazil Classics Vol. 1, Beleza Tropical is an absolutelu essential part of a music collection. Subsequent collections cover Samba and Forro.

Listen to these great Brazillian classics:
Jorge Ben's Ponta De Lanca Africano (Umbabarauma)
Caetano Veloso's Um Canto De Afoxé Para O Bloco De Ilê (Ilê Ayê)
Gilberto Gil's Quilombo, O El Dorado Negro
Nazaré Pereira's Maculelê

React: Do you recognize the part of Quilombo, O El Dorado Negro which was sampled by the Beastie Boys?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Brunch Tunes: Little Richard

Last weekend my friend Michael and I were talking about music for a chill Easter Sunday. We came up with some good suggestions between the two of us but, considering the timing, we both gravitated towards some cool gospel music. So my first suggestion for a great musical accompaniment for a fun weekend is .....

Little Richard's God is Real was recorded in 1959 after Richard's 2 year hiatus from rock n roll and enrollment in Bible college. Little Richard's gospel singing career makes up some of his lesser known material and some of his most surprising. It's heartfelt approach and genuine passion makes "God is Real" among some of Little Richard's most personal music.

Listen to these great Little Richard songs:
Everytime I Feel the Spirit
Just A Closer Walk With Thee
I'm Tramping
God Is Real

React: What do you think of Little Richard's gospel songs?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Look What I Found in My Garage: (Good) Beatles covers

Round four:

Ok so the George Harrison posting got me thinking about Beatle's covers. There are some great ones out there. Heresy you say??? True, there aren't any that improve on the originals but I offer these songs to you as the best Beatles covers I know...

Listen to these great Beatles covers:

She's Leaving Home Harry Nilsson recorded this version ten days after the release of Sgt. Pepper's. His debut record was supposedly loved by the band.
We Can Work it Out -- this (Little) Steve Wonder version is perhaps the best Beatles cover EVER!
Yesterday -- Ok this Marvin Gaye cover is much sexier than virtually anything the Bealtes ever recorded. This has to be considered one of the best too.
With a Little Help From My Friends Ok so this version by George Burns is terrible...but you can't hate on God can you???
Norweigan Wood -- I'm sure this will be controversial... but I prefer the PM Dawn version to the Cornershop version which you can hear here: Norweigan Wood

React: Tell me about your favorite Beatles cover in the comments!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Look What I Found in My Garage: George Harrison's unreleased songs!

Round three:

The first band that I wanted to dust off all my old records and get on the shelf first was the Beatles (followed by the Beach Boys and Buddy Holly -- I'm in a back to the beginning mood these days!). I bought this cd at record surplus for like $8. Crazy!

Did you know that George Harrison's 1981 album Somewhere in England was first rejected by Warner Brothers!?! George Harrison released some of the rejected songs on a very limited edition (2500 copies) cd and vinyl EP called Songs by George Harrison on his own Dark Horse label to coincide with a book of the same name which was out around the time of "Cloud Nine."

I reviewed Songs by George Harrison for All Music Guide when I was a contributor to their fine encyclopedia:

"This limited-edition CD was released in 1987 and includes songs unavailable on any other commercially available disc. "Sat Singing," "Lay His Head," and "Flying Hour" were all written for the LP Somewhere in England but were rejected by Warner Brothers. After being bootlegged for years, this is the first and only appearance of these songs on an official release, making this one of the essential additions to any serious Beatles or George Harrison collection. An additional song from the same sessions, "Tears of the World," remains unreleased, raising the question of when a Harrison box set might be produced. The fourth track is a mono version of "For You Blue," a different version of which most recently appeared on the Beatles' Anthology 3. Songs By George Harrison is remarkable and the songs are classic Harrison."

Amazingly these tracks were not included on the recent collection of all of George's solo records: The Dark Horse Years 1976-1992.

Listen to 4 "unreleased" songs by George Harrison:

Sat Singing
Lay His Head
For You Blue
Flying Hour

FYI: George is my favorite Beatle ... who is yours?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Look What I Found in My Garage: Innocence and Despair

Round two:

The garage discoveries continue with the gem of The Langley Schools Music Project

This record really speaks for itself -- and you love it or hate it. (No haters read Loss Leaders do they?? If so scram!) But a little introduction does set it up nicely: In the mid-1970s an amazing music teacher (do they still exist??) worked at the Langely School in British Columbia and recorded two albums with the school's chorus and pressed records for their own enjoyment. Lost for decades until Bar/None released the music commercially for the first time. The music is pure joy and a wonderful piece of found art...

Richie Unterberger in All Music Guide put it well: "The kids are engaged and having fun, certainly; there's not much despair here. But they sound close to what you would expect 50-strong vocal ensembles of nine- to 12-year-olds singing in a school gymnasium to sound like. What does probably lift this above most other vanity school music class pressings (and you know there must be plenty more where this came from) is the spooky, minimal strangeness of most of the arrangements. It does indeed sound refreshing and interesting to hear the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, and Neil Diamond songs with weird off-kilter xylophones, off-the-wall cymbal crashes, and teacher Hans Fenger's basic singalong acoustic guitar and piano. It's more valuable as a cultural curiosity and something to get the guffaws going at parties than it is a deep listening experience."

Cultural curiosity / Deep Listening experience ... are those mutually exclusive??

Listen to two LSMP Beach Boys covers:
In My Room is one of my favorite Brian Wilson songs. This haunting performance imbues the song with a lonliness implied by the original but fully captured here. Listen and imagine a bunch of pre-teens singing about the their refuge and dreams. And then the attempts at those high notes...!

Good Vibrations is a pretty bold song to even attempt for an elementary school chorus! I'd be proud if my son was in the group doing this version.

Two good pieces on the album:
NPR feature
NY Times article

Monday, April 10, 2006

Look What I Found in My Garage: Morphine

So I've finally found the system that I think will help me keep my cds organized. (Bold proclimation I know!) So as I've been getting some cds out of the deep storage...I've come across some truly wonderful music. Every day for a while I will post songs from some of my favorite bands that are now shaking off the cobwebs and dust bunnies.

First up:

Morphine, the Boston-based trio was an anomoly in rock n roll: a guitar-less band that kicked butt. All Music Guide praised the album Cure for Pain thusly: "unquestionably one of the best and most cutting-edge rock releases of the '90s." The band's music is best described as noir-ish, like the soundtrack to a series of Edward Hopper paintings. (Like this, this and this. These are two of my favorite Morphine songs. The album's title track is one of my top 10 songs of all time. Perhaps their best album, "Cure for Pain" is the best beginning point in discovering a great band.

Cure for Pain is a song about redemption, fulfillment and the crutches we use on the way there.
Mary Won't You Call My Name has some of the best use of rhythm in lyrics. The song tells a story with poetics, passion and a building pace.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Flaming Lips, Thievery Corp and ... Os Mutantes ?!!??

Legend has it that Kurt Cobain asked Os Mutantes to reunite and supprt Nirvana on a tour. (What would have been one of the most awesome tours ever by the way!!) Sadly that never happened.

However!! On Sun. Jul 23 at 7:00 PM Os Mutantes will rock the Hollywood Bowl with the Flaming Lips and Thievery Corporation in an event sponsored by KCRW and their annual World Festival. "Take a trip with the explosive sounds of indie rock heroes, The Flaming Lips and the progressively trip hop of DC's Thievery Corporation." Considering the Lips appear on the latest Theivery Corporation album, could we see a major collaboration at the Bowl??

Recently the 1970s Os Mutantes album Technicolor was re-released. The original alubm was an attempt to re-record the band's best songs in an attempt to crack the American and European markets by adding English lyrics. Other Brazillian stars like Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil would also release albums like this.


Os Mutantes: She's My Shoo Shoo (A Minha Menina) and Bat Macumba
Thievery Corporation with Wayne Coyne: Marching the Hate Machines
Flaming Lips: Free Radicals

Music For America's Indie Night School @ Noise Pop this Sunday in SF

I will be up in San Franciso tomorrow for Noise Pop 2006 which has included some really cool bands from the Flaming Lips to Brit Daniel of Spoon to Nettwerk's very own Submarines who did a stripped down boom box/sampler show with Jason Collette of Broken Social Scene last night.

This Sunday I will be moderating and participating in two panels hosted by one of my favorite organizations, Music For America as part of Noise Pop's Indie Night School which is designed to "explore the many aspects of running a band professionally and independently."

Alternative Ways to Get your Band Noticed (1-3:00)

Dan Droller, Music Director, Music For America
Dave Kostiner, Attorney, Attorney, Davis Shapiro Lewit Montone Hayes
Jamie Stewart, Xiu Xiu
Windy Chien, iTunes producer, former owner of Aquarius Records
Cecily Freyermuth, Corporate Counsel for Digital Music, RealNetworks
JT Griffith, Director, Film & Music, Nettwerk Music Group

Building a Brand Out of Your Band (3:30-5:00)

Nate Query, Decemberists
Hari Berrier, Zeitgeist Artist Management
Jonathan Wood, Product Manager for GoodStorm Inc
Adam Gothelf, AG Music Merchandising Co.
Carol Grey, Manager of Artist Relations at Cinderblock
JT Griffith, Director, Film & Music, Nettwerk Music Group

Come down and get your indie learn on!

Make Out Room


BART station guide

nearest BART station