Saturday, December 02, 2006

What I've Been Listening To...

Peanuts Wilson “Cast Iron Arm”

This cat was in the Teen Kings with Roy Orbison. They share songwriting credits on this one along with some other dude. My copy is a MCA repress from the 70’s and I can’t tell if this is the same version as featured on the recent John Peel and the Pig’s 78 Collection. Either way, a rockabilly howler with lurid sax squeals. Only knew this from the Flat Duo Jets cover version and must admit I still prefer that.

The Beatles “Love You To” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”

I’ve been really into reading Wikipedia entries on songs lately. So I was digging on the write-up for the still-unreleased, unbootlegged “Carnival of Light” and soon ended up catching up on the details of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Luckily my sister had a CD copy of “Revolver” laying around and I haven’t stopped playing it since. The C drone chord opens the door to a thousand mysteries. Paul McCartney’s bass is the reason freakbeat exists, Ringo doesn’t change his beat a squeak the entire time…and don’t even get me started on the original recalled first pressing with a different mix, only discernible by an “XEX-606-1” in the run-out groove. I can’t imagine what teens reaction was back when they first unwrapped this gem almost 40 years ago and heard “Tomorrow Never Knows” barking out the grooves. They must’ve been scared. A band as prominent and popular as the Beatles taking off in such a different direction…we live in a world now where such a feeling cannot be recreated. “Tomorrow Never Knows” will never happen again…and I think that’s equally awesome and terrible.

And I’ve got into George’s raga’s too. I’m way more familiar with “Within You, Without You” but the poppiness of “Love You To” and its snazzy sitar sling is unbeatable. On a trip back from Toronto on July 30th 1999, I listened to this album in its entirety two consecutive times. Eddie Baranek was with me, sick as a dog. We’d driven five hours to see the Greenhornes in front of five people and were stupid enough to trek home the same night. This is my earliest memory of “Revolver.” But I’m pissed now as the only thing I really remember is Eddie consciously skipping over “Love You To” each time it came on. What the fuck? We were young(er) and stupid(er) then. I forgive you Eddie. I arrived home early in the morning after being awake for 22 hours. Eddie didn’t drive at all. I was seriously hallucinating, seeing vapor trails in the sky and invisible pops and whisps in front of me. No one was home so I ran around the house naked. Then I slept beautiful sleep.

Dan Sartain “Boxcutter In My Boot”

Like he knew about the Soledad Brothers without ever meeting them. Blooze sludge with brilliantly terrible drumming. The way the Casio/organ sneaks up and taunts you is why Dan Sartain should be in your record collection.

Beck “Cellphone’s Dead”

This is what my dad would classify as a “stone cold jam.” Dad is never wrong. I’ve done more pathetic attempts at dancing the robot while singing this song then the entire rest of my life combined. I think that’s a good thing. So simple you can’t believe no one else did it first.

Songs of the Humpback Whale, Capitol Records, 1970

My favorite discovery of the year. This LP turned up unpriced at Car City and I was instantly enraptured. Bob, the owner, toying with me as only a grizzled record store vet knows how, says “Oh, I don’t know…how about ninety-four cents?” SOLD! I guess I had an idea of what to expect, but then again no. I’d been buying enough weirdo noise skronk that I guess I thought this was going back to the source. What we’re presented with are five pieces, entitled: “Solo Whale”, “Slowed-Down Solo Whale”, “Tower Whales”, “Distant Whale” and “Three Whale Trip.” What I expected to be a fairly straightforward recording of sub-aqueous tones was anything but. The recordings are slowed down, slightly edited to avoid repetitive parts and feature unavoidable boat propeller resonance and the banging of a loose rudder stock, not to mention the lilting hypnotism of slow water noises in the background that casually put you at ease. These song cycles are entirely produced, constructed, arranged, much in the way that any other record would be. Yet I can’t think of a record that has made me happier in quite some time. This is a record I can get lost in. I could listen to this every day and never get sick of it. But I don’t. I save it for random occasions when the “To Listen To” box has got me down. I’m sure there are more recordings of whales, but I’m not sure if I want to hear them. I love this record so much, it makes me feel so good and so excited and so alive that I want it to retain that specialty. I want every time to feel like the first time. The bellows from these beasts are equally vulnerable and gigantic. Their songs so pretty and unassuming. Digestible and obtuse. Much like the human race.

No comments: