Tuesday, November 28, 2023


I'm Only Sleeping --The Beatles
 The best song about getting up at the crack of noon, only to go right back to sleep. Much is made of the backwards guitar break from Harrison, an accomplishment and innovation indeed, but it's the least interesting aspect of the tune, which as a suitably steady and toned down pulse of a rhythm, simulating, maybe, the measured breathing of someone in deep sleep. McCartney's basswork is superb here, and and at the half point , before the short Harrsion extravaganza, he takes while can be called a bass solo, his only one (unless I miss my guess). Lennon's singing of his lyrics is understated , again suitable in a song that praises laziness; he gets it right, I think, of the universal (?) experience of being awakened in the middle of a dream right before the dreamer gets to the anticipated payoff in the slumbering world. At that moment , in that instance, the world is raw, intrusive, an insane nest of busy body magpies. This is easily one of my favorite songs on a perfect studio release (Revolver),

Ramblin Gamblin Man / Tales of Lucy Blue --Bob Seger System

This is disc got constant play when I lived in Detroit and got even more play after I moved the comparatively edenic San Diego. This 1969 is an earnest and brilliant example of garage band genius, the kind of thrashing primitivism of musicians who definitely not virtuosos who all the same howled, jammed and slammed in minimalist fury all the pent up teen rage of his Michigan fan base. Black Eyed Girl is a gloriously lumbering blues with prime Seger shouting/screaming/bellow, his rasp achieving an appealingly frayed high note, "Ramblin Gamblin Man" is a hard charging rocker with a simple and killer drum beat, all sorts of weird psychedelia , feedback, wah wah pedal orgies, lots of Seger rasping his lungs out. Down Home is    a great companion to the home life portraits by the Stones ala Live with Me. Seger refined his approach over the years to mostly good occasionally great effect, but this album gave he idea that hard rock at ground level should sock you in the jaw and kick you in the head.

Eight Miles High--The Byrds

"Eight Miles High" by the Byrds, released in 1966, a brief and cogent combination of Imagist lyrics, unusual time signatures that alternate between 5/4 and 4/4, jazz and raga overtones and guitarist Roger (nee Jim) McGuinn's transcendent , Coltrane inspired solos. There was a lot of early experiments in mixing rock with other genres, specifically raga and jazz, and not a little hunt and peck improvisation happening during this period, the most succesful efforts being the extended Bloomfield excursions on East West, Larry Coryell's invention of fusion method in the Free Spirits band, and some others, but Eight Miles High was a radio hit of a sort, ranking at 14 in the Billboard 100. It was banned from some stations because of the (too) obvious association with drugs, but where I was in Detroit the tune was played an awful lot on our local AM and FM outlets. It was an unexpected surprise at the time, a song completely unique and ahead of its time that stands as one of the artistically succesful attempts at what would come to be termed fusion.

I Can't Make Love--Wall of Voodoo

 I witnessed Wall of Voodoo for the first time at the Urgh concerts in Santa Monica in 1980, sharing the bill with Pere Ubu, Dead Boys, Magazine,a wholly transformational encounter. The band applied the ticktock reductionist rhythms with a sense of apprehension. It was almost Hitchcockian, as in any scene when a nervous protagonist under duress hears an overly loud clock ticking away . "Ring of Fire" was masterfully drawn out, and Stan Ridgeway seemed to me the best talk-singer since Lou Reed , a flat, hardened monotone , leering and braced by a slight ironic tone, reflecting LA Noir no less than Marlowe. "I Can't Make Love" was my takeaway from the entire night, an underrated lament of A loser, battered on both sides by the lure and dispatch of the affection he craves. This is a lament of someone so saddled with self loathing that he can't complete a sentence. The pleading refrain of "I'm a nice guy" as the song fades is stark and stripped of illusion, it is Lear without the poetry. The abject despair and self-pity that's revealed is equal parts moving and repulsive, which is a remarkable accomplishment.

Saturday, November 4, 2023


Dwight Twilley, underappreciated and (sigh) gone too soon, RIP. I reviewed his single “I’m On Fire” and his second album “Twilley Don’t Mind” in the 70s and always wondered at the time why he and his lifetime music partner Phil Seymour’s earnestly rhythmic and affectless convergence of Mersey Beat melodicism and rockabilly swivel jive, replete with lapel-grabbing hooks, joyously confused vocals and sharp, popping guitar sounds never found a larger audience beyond the first hit and consistently high praise from well-placed rock critics. Office politics at the record company that released his one true hit delayed the release of their debut album, and the time lag sapped the momentum the artists had, but some of it might be that writers didn’t quite get a handle on how to categorize the Twilley Band: they were hailed, sloppily, as members of the “Tulsa Sound”, praised as creators of “power pop”, hailed as fathers of the post-punk New Wave trend, and other times, and more accurately, just called rock and roll. 

As the obit indicates, Twilley was annoyed at the messy attempts to place his music in a category in which it might be made commercially appealing. Just the same, the descriptions of the band’s rock and roll originals were on the money. Perhaps they needed a Jon Landau to write about them and declare that he had seen the face of rock and roll’s future to inspire a major media push for a worthy set of musicians. More likely, the Dwight Twilley Band’s moment had come and gone, with label mismanagement and shifting audience tastes at particular times being blockades. There remains some fine, eternally fresh rock and roll.”