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
'Good point, Alex--please accept my apologies. This place can often get pretty careful in spirit, and you frequently make it more entertaining.'
Thank you, Patrick, I appreciate you as a member of this blog and, also, as a person. I'm guessing I miss-read your comment, anyway! Next topic of discussion: How many Nazis do we all know? Haha, I'm kidding! So, when's the next poll, eh, eh, eh?!
Sorry for the late response.
Thanks for the compliment, Joe!!! I used to have a couple of bootlegs(Dusted in Memphis and Beale Street Greene) which contain most of the Elektra demos. There are also a couple of live bootlegs from 1977-78 era when he was living in New York which have all sorts of interesting covers(Government Center, Oh Oh I lover Her so, Honking Down the Highway). Type Alex Chilton and the Cossacks live in philadelphia into your favorite search engine. You might have some have some luck finding the show I was referencing. Someone out there really should make a compilation of all the great unrecorded covers Chilton played live. Among the most memorable I saw live were Roadrunner, Candy Says, Rock With You, Brass Buttons(gram parsons) Anywhere/Anyhow/Anyway, This Car of Mine, I Wanna Pick You Up, Solar System and believe it or not ,Total Destruction to Your Mind(Swamp Dogg Rules!!). Another source of unrecorded covers was a show recorded with Teenage Fanclub in the 90's. There's all sorts of cool covers on this one: Wolly Bully, Walk Right In, Zappa cover. The sound is really good as well. This one you can find on u 2be.
I hope you enjoy.
Cam: Thanks for Dj Db link !! Those mixtapes from '93 are incredible!!
OK, commenters, I have a question: what albums do you have an outline and perhaps pieces of a book-length study languishing on your computer, but just haven’t put that book proposal together yet? It’s obviously a favorite album, but not necessarily your very favorite; rather it’s the one that you consider badly discussed or underdiscussed for whatever reason and think you have something specific to say about that no one else gets.
Mine is Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall.
I’ve read the recent call for proposals for the 33 1/3 series, as well as the previous one from 2010, and the most important thing you need to realize is that the publisher and the editorial policy have clearly changed dramatically. Reading old titles in the series will probably not help you.
Whereas the previous editorship was looking for a variety of personal and creative voices for the series, the new publisher is announcing itself clearly as an academic publisher looking for academic titles. The new call for proposal reads “[we are looking for] perspectives that will broaden and develop the discipline of writing about music, as read by a global readership of music scholars and fans.” “Discipline” and “scholars” are the key words; “fans” is clearly an afterthought. They believe their primary market is academic libraries, professors, and classroom use texts. The series has previously published books about Neutral Milk Hotel and Magnetic Fields and PJ Harvey that are clearly addressed to fans as cult members. The new call for proposals, unfortunately, doesn’t lead me to believe that the new editors will be open to books like that.
This doesn’t mean lower selling albums aren’t going to get a hearing at all. It probably does mean that you can only position a Meadowlands book by emphasizing it as a text in the sociology of North Jersey and of the present generation of underemployed and/or employed but not necessarily at jobs that provide careers, security, or fulfillment individuals. This could be highly marketable for local area courses or courses related to the current job market and the experience of people 25-40 in the current US. Meadowlands does clearly lend itself to this kind of book. I’m basically suggesting that the kind of book where you interview the band and emphasize the personal-creative aspect of the work would definitely have interested the old regime but doesn’t appear to be what the new regime is looking for.
One thing you have on your side is the imminent destruction of the stadium. The words “Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball” should probably appear in your proposal, because you can count on your readers having heard of him. They like what they call “context.”
I have published an academic book – indeed once upon a time got tenure, though I quit because I hated the job. If you want to run a draft proposal by me, I could perhaps help you position your proposal for academic readers.
Kick Out the Jams wasn't really a flop - the album did hit the top 40 and did much better than the MC5's next 2 albums would
I've heard that the chart position was the highest Elektra could buy and that outside of Detroit things were grim in the sales department, though stores were super-generously supplied. It's interesting in that there seemed to be oceans of cut-out Kick Out the Jams circulating (every used section seemed to have at least one copy), which really helped when the band's legend revived as punk took hold.
I still have never come across a copy with the "Motherf***ers" printed inside the jacket.
Why do I always feel like a self-serving ****, when pointing out things like this? I like to debate; it doesn't matter how finely tuned it is. Opening up is always good; closing in is never. Fu*k it--God, it's so insulting, when it's backhanded! Am I too serious, or am I too free spirited? Fu*k knows.
Good point, Alex - please accept my apologies. This place can often get pretty careful in spirit, and you frequently make it more entertaining.
Edit: Michael's right, although I like the Wonder quote.
Current reading: Fug You, Ed Sanders' really fun 60's autobio, with some Fugs accompaniment. I'm finding that I prefer It Crawled Into My Hand, Honest to Tenderness Junction (it's got more than a whiff of a Zappa album about it, but it's infinitely wiser and more humane), though I'd agree with Xgau that First Album and Golden Filth (one of the more honest album titles ever) are where to begin.
Song of the day: "No Peace in My Palace" - Grant McLennan Sheer alchemy: "Now that Cupid's done what he could" is far from his best line, and the horns that float in not long after might be MOR in other circumstances, but here it has me seriously welling up every time.
Speaking of reading (and bits of rock trivia), rockwrite crazies are encouraged to look up the huge cover story on the MC5 from the January 1969 issues of Rolling Stone (there was a followup article in 1992 which I've never read). It was done by a student journalist who's name escapes me (hey, I read it so long ago it was on microfilm, which is rarer than jukeboxes nowadays). Very credulous and full of hype about how the band' free-form jams were equal to not only Sun Ra workouts but A Love Supreme. It appeared before the band had any vinyl released. Lester Bangs's scathing pan was a reaction to the misguided oversell of the cover story.
And of course the MC5, rather than being the Next Big Thing Rolling Stone promoted, were a commercial dud at the time. I've often wondered if that piece didn't make the magazine more conservative as a pop-phenom seer, one that would more or less stick to Jann's favorites in the future.
Our Prayer - Beach Boys
So Good to Be Here - Al G.
Hard Times - Dr. Buzzard
Sunshower - Dr. Buzzard
Sweetest Angel - Jonatha Brooke w/ Glen Phillips
Center of Gravity - Yo La
Protection - Massive Attack
A Heart Needs a Home - Richard & Linda
I Will - Beatles
I Guess I've Come to Live Here in Your Eyes - Willie
Dream Come True - Willie
Carried Away - Television
Cruisin' - Smokey
Move With Me - Neneh Cherry
Truly, Madly, Deeply - Savage Garden
Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers
Dimming of the Day - Richard & Linda
Forever - Beach Boys
Nobody Sees Me Like You Do - Yoko
Oh My Love - John
Relatively bouncier disc:
I Saw the Light - Todd Rundgren
Prettiest Eyes - Beautiful South
The Calculation - Regina Spektor
Then Came You - Spinners w/Dionne
Lay My Love - Eno/Cale
Every 1's a Winner - Hot Chocolate
All You've Gotta Do - Jonatha Brooke with Keb Mo'
I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine - Elvis
Good Enough - Bonnie
You Are the Sunshine of My Life - Stevie
I'll Be Your Mirror - Velvets
There is a Light That Never Goes Out - Smiths
Sunndal Song - Apples in Stereo
They Don't Know - Kirsty MacColl
Closer Than Most - Beautiful South
She's My Baby - Traveling Wilburys
Autumn Sweater - Yo La
Your Love is Like the Morning Sun - Al Green
Forever and Always - Shania Twain
Singin' in the Rain - Gene Kelly
That last one should really be accompanied by a clip from the movie, as without it it's only half the true Ode to Joy it is, however...
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.