Oh--You Mean Those Beatles
Cotton Mather: Kontiki (Deluxe Edition) (Star Apple Kingdom)
Pieced together in 1997 from impulsively conceived, doggedly recorded scraps of DAT and four-track by Austin mastermind Robert Harrison and a Memphis tape wizard who loved how Big Star the band was, Cotton Mather's second album caught the attention of some British Beatles fanatics d/b/a Oasis, who brought them over to open and even generated some U.K. sales. While allowing his vocal resemblance to "John Lennon with a Southern accent and a head cold," Harrison's extensive notes don't cite the Beatles much even though "My Before and After" resembles "Ticket to Ride" more than its supposed inspiration "(Reach Out) I'll Be There" and "Private Ruth" echoes "For No One" straight up. Harrison is no more a genius than Noel Gallagher, so though the lyrics aren't spaced-out gibberish or obvious pap, they're unequal to the music‑-which definitely beats, for instance, the last three songs on the first Big Star album, and even more remarkable, kind of makes you appreciate Oasis. (N.B.: I'm recommending the Deluxe because it's new and much cheaper, not because I expect ever to listen to its alternates and new ones for anything except the research I presume is now complete.) B PLUS
Oasis: Stop the Clocks (Sony BMG '06)
One of the many things I never got about this band was where the Beatles were. Where was the ebullience, the wit, the harmonies, God just the singing, and, uh, the songwriting? Cotton Mather made me understand that when Oasis say they love the Beatles they really mean they love the post-Help!, pre-Sgt. Pepper Beatles. Since that span encompasses Rubber Soul and Revolver, many would say tally ho, but (a) not me 'cause I love the Beatles start to finish and (b) only if you're writing songs as good as, uh, "We Can Work It Out." Instead Oasis, meaning loudmouth bro Noel Gallagher, write songs that resemble "We Can Work It Out" in thickened texture and momentum but not depth or charm, then add arena size in the swagger of the drums and the bigged-up vocals themselves. This band-selected best-of‑-two discs lasting 87 minutes, like an old-fashioned double-LP except it's only 18 tracks‑-capture their sonic moment as fully as any freelance music historian needs. A 2010 package repeats 11 of these songs and adds 16 others‑-too many, I say. Also, it omits the opening "Rock 'n' Roll Star." If ever there were guys whose message to the world is summed up by an opener called "Rock 'n' Roll Star," it's these bigheads. B PLUS
Oh the windows down, driving fast, music to pump you up and sing loud to. And you don't care about being embarrased by anyone.
Though the scene is super depressing, the use of "Home Sweet Home" by Motley Crue in Hot Tub Time Machine makes me think maybe just maybe that song reigns supreme in just such a context.
albums Christgau has never graded, or maybe has panned
This could be fun. A big plus is that I have no idea whatsoever who would win, especially if pre-Consumer Guide albums are kept off-limits.
(1) albums Christgau has never graded, or maybe has panned; or (2) YouTube live clips. Either category runs the risk of being too disbursed to coalesce around clear winners. But in a way that's the flip side of what I like about them: they are likely to identify a bunch of music I hadn't previously heard.
I would just like to point out that this comment nicely summarizes how polls on Bob Xgau's blog have little (or negative) to do with Bob and his work.
Could be good. Could be bad. Could be co-opted.
the Tremeloes, on "Here Comes My Baby"
I was gonna make some Allah/Cat Stevens joke here, but the guy seems to have mellowed/reverted to his role as a '60s religious nomad. So, some power to him, but not much more.
Madonna - "Dear Jessie"
Michel Pagliaro - "Lovin' You Ain't Easy" - goo.gl/yRBru
Yes, Virginia, good music happens all over the place--including, it's a mild shock to discover, the recorded works of a cheesy Brit goth or glam trio.
Oooops -- Billy J. Kramer
Another cheating a little bit would be the original release of "From Me To You" by Del Shannon.
I'm also partial to The La's "There She Goes" which Richard stole from me for the Britpop list.
And almost anything by Billie J. Kramer.
VU-She's My Best Friend
Moby Grape-Fall on You
Brinsley Schwarz- The Ugly Things
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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