Tag Archives: The Beatles

Lula Côrtes & Zé Ramalho

I went to two fine independent record stores recently and had a heyday. At one store, I waved around five discs I was intent on purchasing, and asked the proprietor, “What am I missing?” The staff stacked discs by the beat-up cd player, and through the fog of cat hair I would motion thumbs up or slide my fingers across my neck (“kill it”) so they’d load another album for me. We exclaimed about liner notes (Why did they thank Sasha Frere-Jones?), shared opinions about certain bands’ trajectories, and concocted complicated similes (Brimstone Howl is like Radio Moscow covering The Detroit Cobras). It was a fuckin’ cool geek-out.

One of the gems they pimped was Paêbirú by Lula Côrtes E Zé Ramalho. Go get your local music dudes to order it for you, in the spirit of this post, or buy it online if you must. It came out originally in the 70s, and was mostly destroyed in an act of god (couldn’t stand the competition), so rare copies cost thousands until the recent re-release (story here).

I listened to just a snippet at the store and it made me feel like I was levitating, filled with sound. Thumbs up.

Most of the music I listen to is like walking the earth at my normal gait, with a few pivots, jukes, and jumps for flair. But after a full play in the car, this Brazilian hippie symphony made me feel like I was swimming for the first time in a long time, and afterward previously underused aural muscles ached. In the good way.

See, this stuff makes me talk in fragments. It makes other reviewers talk like pretentious asses: “If you like good music, you will like this. If you think you like good music, but you hate this, then you don’t actually like good music at all.”

Much respect to Os Mutatntes, but in SAT-does-The-Beatles anlagy style, these songs are to Eleanor Rigby as Os Mutantes (another Brazillian psycholdellic rock band, who were very influential) are to Love Me Do.

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Quality Cover Songs

I have compiled some links to other blogs’ I-drink-your-milkshake-good mp3 downloads of covers. Enjoy.

Chris Cornell masterminds a gritty, soulful, mind-blowing cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean.

Sufjan Stevens croons a cover of R.E.M.’s This One Goes Out to the One I Love.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience rocks Cream’s already-rockin’ Sunshine of Your Love.

Andrew Bird sweetly covers Bob Dylan’s Oh, Sister.

Tangoterje remixes Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes into Diamonds Dub.

And there’s a CD of covers to be bought: Stax Does the Beatles, featuring Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and lots more.

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Top-Shelf Jukebox Songs

So I’m chalking my pool cue at the pub this loverly St. Patrick’s Day, and I says to my friend, I says, “List of the best jukebox tunes? …”

Billie Jean
– Michael Jackson
Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) – Looking Glass
Roxanne – The Police
Superstition – Stevie Wonder
Fishing in the Dark – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Cecilia – Simon and Garfunkel
Fire and Rain – James Taylor
Gloria – Van Morrison
Black Betty – Ram Jam
Amie – Pure Prairie League
Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin
Melissa – The Allman Brothers Band
The Weight – The Band
Can’t You See – The Marshall Tucker Band
Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival (sorry Tina)
Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers
Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin
Won’t Get Fooled Again – The Who
Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
War – Edwin Starr
After Midnight – Eric Clapton
Come Together – The Beatles
Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones
All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix
Somebody to Love – Jefferson Airplane
Black Water – The Doobie Brothers
American Pie – Don McLean
Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2
Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ – The Velvet Underground

1990s:
No Rain – Blind Melon
Self Esteem – The Offspring
Are You Gonna Be My Girl – Jet
Say It Isn’t So – Weezer
Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
Heaven Beside You – Alice in Chains
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
Bound for the Floor – Local H
In the Meantime – Spacehog
Hunger Strike – Temple of the Dog
Santa Monica – Everclear
Creep – Radiohead
Mary Jane’s Last Dance – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Lightning Crashes – Live
Super Bon Bon – Soul Coughing
Possum Kingdom – The Toadies
Killing Me Softly – The Fugees
Time Bomb – Rancid
What I Got – Sublime
If You Could Only See – Tonic
Closing Time – Semisonic
Hey Man, Nice Shot – Filter
Mr. Jones – Counting Crows
1979 – Smashing Pumpkins
Yellow Ledbetter – Pearl Jam
Pepper – Butthole Surfers
Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart – Stone Temple Pilots
Machinehead – Bush
Devil’s Haircut – Beck
When I Come Around – Greenday

Bonus:
Hurt – Johnny Cash

Such lists are necessarily, perpetually, horrendously incomplete. Make things right in the comments section!

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Gene Wooten

A recent restorative roadrip, which took me through the Bible Belt, rekindled my faith in the medium of radio. Toggling back and forth between radio and CDs, one must have been a very good boy or girl to tune in a classic R&B station or perhaps a classic rock channel in a singer-songwriter mood. But lucky me, I had the good fortune to catch a couple of great community radio shows.

One was on St. Louis’ KDHX hosted by a blues aficionado who wove great stories into his set (stream here). That night he spun records that probably only exist in his collection, and it was special to get to listen to those blues artists from the 1930s.

The other was Vanderbilt’s student radio station, WRVU, which provided a bluegrass soundtrack for a goodly stretch of interstate. The show’s guest host was focusing on covers. He played down-home versions of People Get Ready / One Love (original Bob Marley And The Wailers), Sailin’ Shoes (original Little Feat), and Day Tripper (original The Beatles). Day Tripper was covered by Gene Wooten on the dobro.

Wooten won a grammy for The Great Dobro Sessions, on which you can hear this particular cover. Listen to a clip here, but if it doesn’t work in Firefox, don’t download a plug-in, just use Explorer instead … or you could just buy it. This song re-enchanted radio listening for me for a time, and that’s worth a listen.

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The Polyphonic Spree

The Polyphonic Spree‘s new video Crawl is worth a watch. It’s an intimate look at the band and frontman Tim DeLaughter, who has more charisma in his little finger than [insert lame comparison into this cliché here].

Watching Tim from his Tripping Daisy days (I cannot stress enough that the albums I Am an Elastic Firecracker and Jesus Hits Like an Atom Bomb are your listening homework if you don’t know them already but are even remotely into the Spree or The Flaming Lips) through The Beginning Stages of… and into worldwide success with the Spree, you can’t help but sense that he consistently does the dangerous work of exposing his soul to the world. That must be necessary to make music so expansive and touching. He always projects genuine elation, but the elation seemingly must be ripped out of (his) pain and (our) apathy to be sustained. I think this makes him one of the hardest working men in music.

At Tripping Daisy and Spree shows, Tim always seems to be standing on the monitors, surrounded by something. Sometimes it’s props like bubbles or plastic bits from a fake snow machine. But sometimes it’s light doing interesting things in concert with the sound, such as a flickering fluorescent bulb or a sunbeam breaking through the dreary clouds during a raucous version of It’s the Sun (both shows in Denton, Texas, at two very different venues).

I find the Spree’s recordings difficult to listen to since I know how bitchin’ they are live. In fact, it’s safe to say I like the Spree best at their margins, out of the studio doin’ their own funky thing. At the end of one show, they allowed the harpist time to perform a full song solo, and it was truly fulfilling in a basic sort of way, like eating bread. The improv moments during shows are some of the most fun bits, like when Tim broke spontaneously into a Tripping Daisy chorus while the rest of the band waited patiently. And their covers are fierce. Grab Nirvana’s Lithium, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s LHCB, and Wig in a Box here at Deaf Indie Elephants. You can buy covers of Lithium, Tripping Daisy’s Sonic Bloom, and The Psychedelic Furs’ Love My Way on the EP Wait. And I always love a little Ride Captain Ride.

Side note about the rockin‘ movie (and soundtrack) Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The Spree’s cover of Wig in a Box appears on a benefit album of the same name, along with other covers (by Bob Mould, The Breeders, Frank Black, Sleater-Kinney, Spoon, Ben Folds, and voice by Stephen Colbert long before I knew who he was) of Hedwig songs such as Rufus Wainwright’s pleasant rendition of The Origin of Love.

Tim does an interview with You Ain’t No Picasso, where he talks about his life philosophy and also a subject dear to my heart, albums: “I love making albums. We are in a world of singles and more people are interested in picking little jewels off the record. But for me as an artist, to have my creative worth and feel worthy, it’s got to be more of a concept. It’s got to work all together as one unit in one listen.” And for me as a listener, I can’t grow love for artists or their bodies of work via singles or mp3s on shuffle. Only albums will do.

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