Archive for September, 2007

The Grubby Music Blog – Lost Masterpeices

September 27th, 2007 | Features | 0 Comments

So, as we all know, over the course of rock history many albums have proven themselves to be more equal than others. Many albums have become regarded as Masterpeices: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Blonde On Blonde, Pet Sounds, Rumours, Born To Run, Ziggy Stardust, London Calling, Exile On Mainstreet, Dark Side Of The Moon, etc. These are all masterpeices which are well known and well respected. However, life isnt fair and not all masterpeices get their due. Here’s a couple of my favorite albums that time has all but forgotten:

Alexander “Skip” Spence – Oar

This haunting album was created by the incredibly talented (and doomed) artist Skip Spence. He was somehow connected to Quicksilver Messenger Service, got kicked out of Jefferson Airplane and played guitar in the also-underrated Moby Grape. All these were late 60’s San-Fran Bay Area bands. Unfortunately, Skip was a little sketch and went at a band member with an axe. He was kicked out of Moby Grape due to his irratic behaviour. He spent some time in a mental institution. After getting out, his record company gave him some money to record a solo album. He used the money to buy a motorcycle and ride to Nashville where he got some studio time to record this album which would be his last…The album is folksy, trippy, countryish at times. The whole thing sounds very similar in feel to Syd Barret‘s albums except maybe a little darker, less whimsical. Songs like “Little Hands” and “War in Peace” sound trippy as hell. And awesome. Songs like “Diana” and “All Come To Meet Her” are gorgeous in their honesty and surreal atmosphere. The countryesque songs sound like Johnny Cash if he took a lot acid and then became really quiet and introspective. Every aspect of the album is Skip Spence. He played the drums, guitars, bass, sang, produced, etc. You can tell he’s not the greatest at any of the aforementioned things but he is an amazing artist and he uses everything in very interesting ways. This is one of my all time favorite albums. It has been championed by Beck and Robert Plant among other notable persons. It’s pretty hard to find though so…goood luck with that, try and download it maybe if you can.

http://www.myspace.com/apageforalexanderspence

Further Listening: Moby Grape – Moby Grape

Chris Bell – I Am The Cosmos

I know it’s not the first time I’ve written about my beloved Chris Bell but the guy more than deserves mention. Who wrote That 70’s Show’s theme song? Not Cheap Trick (they covered it), but Big Star (more on them later), more specifically, Chris Bell. After exiting Big Star, Chris drifted around writing, recording, playing, trying to land a record to deal to no avail. The poor guy had so much talent but no luck. He was depressed and tried to commit suicide twice. The album “I am the Cosmos” came out in 1992; Chris died in 1978. The songs on the album are gorgeous. The title song is heartbreaking with amazing vocals. The album’s other masterpeice is “You and Your Sister” which features Alex Chilton (of Big Star) on backup vocals. It’s an acoustic song which is so simple and yet ridiculously affecting. It can bring a person to tears. “Years will soon fade away/smile now, don’t be afraid”. The songs on the album are about the frustration of love, religion and life. It’s an amazing and heartbreaking album. Please listen to some of this masterpeice if you can.

http://www.myspace.com/bigstarchris

Further Listening: Big Star – #1 Record

Gene Clark – No Other

Gene Clark is best known for being an original member of The Byrds. He wrote their early hit “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” and the bulk of their first two albums. He then left to pursue what at the time seemed a hopeful solo carreer – unfortunately, such was not the case. This album is probably the best of his solo carreer which actually yielded many incredible albums and songs. After leaving The Byrds, he started writing songs that were much more alt-country than folk and his lyrics became dense and dylanesque. This fantastic album, with soaring songs like “Life’s Greatest Fool”, “Some Misunderstand” and “The True One” as well as interesting, darker songs like the title track and “Silver Raven” is an absolute gem. The production is brilliant, incorporating 70’s synths, backup singers, pedal steels and an array of interesting effects which are always used appropriately. This album is also damn near impossible to find, try downloading it if you can, its great. Poor Gene Clark, there really was no other like you. Gene Clark was immortalized in the song of his name, sung by Teenage Fanclub on the album Thirteen.

http://www.myspace.com/geneclark

Further Listening: Gene Clark – White Light

Nico – The End

Most people know Nico from her brief stint as The Velvet Underground‘s “chanteuse” on the classic “The Velvet Underground and Nico”, but Nico actually had a fantasticly productive solo carreer. Many of her albums were produced by Velvet Underground bandmember John Cale. I know critics always talk about The Marble Index (not the band, the album) but I think The End is probably my favorite Nico album. Desertshore‘s pretty close though…The End, named in tribute to Jim Morrison, is nearly as dark and ridiculously depressing as The Marble Index, except the songs don’t all the sound exactly the same. The greatest thing about Nico‘s albums is the atmosphere they have. It’s incredible. The songs don’t have…rythm. It’s more like a swirling arrangement of weird, haunting, carnivalesque sounds which cascade around Nico’s chilling vocals. Listening to her is like entering a place that your not sure you want to stay in too long…but while your there, it’s undeniably intriguing. Her lyrics are strange and poetic. Phrases will stick out and stick with you. Strangely, I find the music very listenable as the melodies are strong and sometimes everything comes together for moments of amazing beauty. Her cover of “The End” is great, completely different from the original though. She ends with a cover of the German anthem. It’s purpose is the same as that of Jimi Hendrix‘s cover of the American anthem at Woodstock.

http://www.myspace.com/imnotsaying

Further listening:

The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground and Nico

Nico – Desertshore

Big Star – Third/Sister Lovers

Another one of my favorite albums. This album began really awkwardly, with Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens as the only remaining original members just recording a bunch of songs with other session people. It came out three years after being completed to absolutely no notice. Alex Chilton was going through a really weird period at this point in his life. Post-Big Star he made some albums which some consider disasters, others consider masterpeices. Many consider him a sort of wasted potential. He did however go on to produce The Cramps, which is probably his most important post Big Star accomplishment. On Third/Sister Lovers, he writes some shining pop songs like “Oh Dana” and “Thank You Friends” as well as haunting songs like “Holocaust” and ” Big Black Car”. My favorite song is the string-laden closer “Take Care”. “Take Care, please take care” Alex Chilton sings in his fragile voice, maybe to himself… The album is a mess but it’s got a pull like monster tide. I love it.

http://www.myspace.com/bigstarband

Further listening: Big Star – Radio City

Jason Collett

September 27th, 2007 | Features | 1 Comment

Alrighty, so I was in a Sunrise Records today and I had to pick up this album which I’ve been waiting for for months: that’s right. Kevins Drew‘s solo album Spirit If…I’m listening to it right now and it’s just plain groovalicious. Kevin Drew is just like the coolest guy ever and his music breaks my heart…despite the fact his lyrics range from absolute nonsense to absolute brilliance. The guy is also going out with Feist and yeah, that’s one hell of a power couple. Anyways, I was thinking about making the band of the week Kevin Drew or Broken Social Scene but everyone knows them already so I decided to give some attetion to one of the lesser known talents of the Social Scene.

JASON COLLETT!!!

Collett is (in addition to being a member of BSS) a folkish type singer-songwriter of the Dylanesque tradition. Even so, his material has that A&C vibe to it and of course members of the scene are present throughout his work. While his songs can be classified as folk, they are actually more pop/rock and the arrangements on the album are a little too complex to be traditionally considered folk despite the acoustic instruments and subtle rustic feel. The most intriguing thing about Collett is his voice. It’s the way he says things…it’s hard to describe, I noticed it mostly in his song “Gabrielle”. Just the way he says “gaaaaaaaaaybbrrrieeelllee”, the way the “bbbrrrr” sounds is just great. His lyrics are also often brilliant, check out this verse from “we all lose one another”:

“So this is the day of the dead

Bound by love unbound by flesh

This is for those who have gone before

Flower petals falling on the altar

This is just a gift

This is birth and this is death

All in the same breath.”

Lovely, lovely. Check out his album Idols of Exile if you can, it’s cool and Collett is an artist with plenty of talent and potential.

http://www.myspace.com/jasoncollettofficial

The Grubby Music Blog – The Beatles pt. 1 – In My Life

September 27th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

So I saw Across the Universe today and it was pretty groovy. In case you don’t know, I love the beatles. I’ve been in love with the beatles and their music ever since I was like…in grade 7 or 8 or something. If it weren’t for the Beatles I wouldnt be who I am. I wouldn’t be a musician. I wouldn’t be a songwriter. I might not have dreadlocks. I wouldn’t have half the friends I do. I wouldn’t write stupid music blogs to annoy people. So everyone who hates these blogs, blame the beatles (oh-so-witty-comments, I see you coming from a mile away, you people are stupid).

Here’s how it all began…

One day I was on a bus. It was a Snowhawks bus and we were on our way to some mountain or other to ski/snowboard. Every week we would watch a movie on the bus. One week that movie was The Beatle’s animated masterpeice Yellow Submarine.

I was maybe like…10 or around there…really young. When the movie came on I hated it. What the hell is going on? This doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s soooo stupid. Of course at 10 you want everyone to think your soooo smart and grown up so I was all like “yeah, this cartoon SUCKS”. Blue Meanies? Only babies could like something so stupid.

Then Eleanor Rigby played. While I still did not enjoy it, something about the song stuck with me. It always has. At the time I was like “what’s the deal with all these floating heads? This is sooooo stupid”.

Some time later I went to sleepover camp for my first year. Camp shalom. I was something like…11 or 12 or something. I had decided not to bring my cd player just because (unthinkable to me now, but back then i was different). Instead I brought my Game Boy Advance. Around this time the Beatles “1” CD came out with all their #1 hits and while every single adult had it, a couple kids had it also.

Somehow I ended up trading my GBA to somebody just about every single night so I could borrow a CD player and that CD and listen to Eleanor Rigby and Yellow Submarine over and over and over…I would sing Yellow Submarine until it drove everyone around me crazy. Hey, I was practicing my Liverpool accent, gimme a break, ok?

After that I LIKED The Beatles but I wasn’t obsessed with them…yet…

2 years later: Camp Shalom.

It was my last year at camp and I had already gotten into The White Stripes, another band which changed my life and that I still love dearly. I liked the Beatles and liked the song Nowhere Man alot and would listen to Wings’ Band on the Run every night, especially when I was sad (women troubles, it never ends man…). I was a senior that year, it was my last year at shalom before we went to Solelim, shalom basically for older kids if you don’t know. The seniors would always go and visit Solelim for a sleepover and get a taste of it. So eventually I went and saw Solelim.

While at Solelim we got to see some of the activities. One was potpourri, in which you sit around in a circle and shpeil philosophical or something. Interesting conversations were common. They were saying some of the topics they’d been discussing and one really caught me off guard: Paul is Dead.

Paul McCartney? He’s not dead, he’s obviously alive. “No” said one guy, convinced that the pretty-boy Beatle was definitely deceased. I was totally thrown off, I’d never heard about something like this.

When we got back to Shalom I asked my cabin-mates about this. They told me how there’s all these clues in The Beatles songs and album covers. “Interesting,” I thought.

When I got back home after camp I went on my computer and I googled something like “Paul is Dead” and found no shortage of results. One site had all of them and it said what lines in what songs were clues. So I started downloading the songs to check it out.

I would check out one song and I would be just blown away. What an amazing song! So I would check out another…And again the song would be unbelievable. Just mindblowing. I thought “there’s no way ALL these songs can be THAT good.” I was wrong. I ended up checking out every single song on the site and loving every single one. There wasn’t one song I didn’t absolutely love.

I had been learning guitar for two years but never really applied myself. I wouldn’t practice. I didn’t care too much about it, I just thought guitar was cool and just went on with it. My guitar teachers were always nice guys so it was all good. My mom had bought a Hard Days Night on DVD a while before and one night I popped it into my computer and tried to play along with the songs in the movie. After that I started playing all the time. Learning Beatles songs, trying to get better, faster.

When my guitar teacher came back after the summer he noticed a revolution in my playing. He often tells me that I was like a different person. I had gone away a child and come back a real person. The Beatles caught me at that exact time and I’ve no doubt that until I die, The Beatles and their music will be a huge part of who I am.

A while later I started writing music. Why? The only reason I started writing music was because I wanted more Beatles songs. I was totally motivated and without a motivated that strong I would never have started writing and playing seriously. Without The Beatles there would be no Rotten, no Brittany and Stacey, no Holly, no Mangs, no Plastic Fantastic Lovers, no Fancy Claps, no Savatti and the Grub and no whatever comes next. Without The Beatles, me as you know me would not exist.

To Be Continued…