That Old Testosterone High
Dabke: Sounds of the Syrian Houran (Sham Palace)
From seven weddings and such in southern Syria, 42 board-tape-to-vinyl-only minutes collected by Sublime Frequencies' Mark Gergis and released in an edition of 1000. Why you should want such a fetish object is simple‑-access to the most intense music you'll hear all year, including anything by Gergis's related discovery Omar Souleyman. It's very male and replete with strange noises: grunts and yelps, chipmunk squeals, and the buzzy overtones of a bamboo flute called the mejwiz‑-sometimes live, sometimes sampled, sometimes, Gergis says, both. Yes the music drones‑-it's supposed to. No you won't understand a word they're singing--insofar as they're singing any. A little one-dimensional sure‑-assuming you're not from southern Syria yourself. A MINUS
Japandroids: Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl)
Kind of heartwarming that it's still possible for a young band to rock out with palpable joy about the pleasures, terrors, and life lessons of the road‑-the songs of experience thing, as if the road is reality in a way their jobs in Vancouver weren't. Helps that they're a duo‑-decreases the mathematical likelihood of a member nutting out, increases each member's share of the measly take. Also helps that they're not actually young‑-around 30 is my guess. Rendering this an escape into youth rather than from it by guys old enough to realize that if they hope to make a success of their hustle they need to turn into something like professionals--tunesmiths, even. A MINUS
Ditto. And it was actually Jason, so my thanks your way as well.
And for me, today's road songs discussion took me on a very short trip to a long (too long in my case) abandoned destination; from "Me and Paul" to "Pancho and Lefty" to a whole bunch of Townes Van Zandt who still deserves better than he's got so far.
Nora H. makes clear efficiently, I think, that it is not working-class identified country musicians or (and this is a quick guess) working-class identified Southern rock musicians doing the whining. I mean, if "Me and Paul," is the acme, then surely you can at least see the top of that mountain from Skynyrd's "What's Your Name" (whose sexism may or may not be undercut for you by the hilarious anti-macho of "Gimme Three Steps"). I
I'm just starting with Japandroids and don't have a bead on their characters yet, but I'm guessing The Hold Steady will be significant in this discussion. Especially on the first few records. Acknowledging that "the road," is their job, being realistic about the ups and downs, not pretending to be the same as the "kids" or the "crowd" but still very much identified with them.
Trying to articulate a history of road songs seems a worthy mid-summer project to me.
How about simply less hubris on the part of the artists, and more modesty, largely due to the subdued economics of the recording industry.
Or else, that everyone lived through "Love The One You're With" and suffered its consequences, none more so than the kids we gave birth to.
And the more I think of it, a really good question actually. One that had tickled just slightly below my consciousness as I read that first line. Maybe Kurt Cobain was an object lesson.
Here's a topic -- host Bob was, I thought, boldly and consistently skeptical about the '70s rise of "road epic" songs -- their woe-is-me for zillionaires, their displacing non-lovesong subjects that might more reach the lives of the audience.
Yet now we have praise for road songs. Is this inconsistency? If not, what has changed?
On the way home last night this voice comes over the radio, "that sounds like the guy from the hamburger album" my ex says as she's driving, can it be, is it really Peter Stampfel? And so it was, "Surfer Angel", on a surfer themed show.
Milo and Walter (from last thread), Andy Summers in his memoir is interesting on what it was like playing with Kevin Coyne. They'd go to the bar after shows and Coyne would know exactly how to spot anyone's achilles heel and mercilessly zero in on it.
Just found out there are a couple 1973 live-in-the-studio BBC Coyne performances on YouTube, and something with Summers, too. [Why have I not looked for this stuff before?] Also an emotional and probably drunk "Sunday Morning Sunrise" in front of the Berlin Wall, 1982. Best of all is a full-voiced 1979 show, buncha songs. "Saviour" in a top hat! Jesus Christ pose! With a cap gun! "Fu(k the millionaires! Down the aristocrats!"
There you go, Liam, another one for your Bastille show, "Having a Party". Take your pick, Kevin or Sally.
To Pitbull: please keep your suit on.
Yeah ... Cam (or anybody) do you have any idea what's the scoop about why that was never issued on CD? I used to joke it was part of his "Ghostbusters" settlement, but now I half wonder if it wasn't.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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