Monthly Archives: August 2007

One last summer fling

As August draws to a close, there’s almost a tangible sense that summer also is doing so.

Those last few nights by the lake, or at the cottage, seem quieter. They seem longer. There’s an emptiness about them.

You know what has gone on all summer. Perhaps you miss that vibe. Perhaps you’re glad to be done with it.

Perhaps you hooked up with someone. Perhaps it went well, perhaps not. Perhaps you wanted to hook up with someone, but could not or did not. Perhaps you just remember those experiences from summers past.

That pursuit is one of the essential ingredients of any summer.

So we’re putting our money in the jukebox and playing those songs — the ones that have the feel of summer crushes, love, lust, flirtation, obsession, whatever — one last time before the outdoor bar closes until Memorial Day.

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“Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” the slow version, Neil Sedaka, 1976, from “The Definitive Collection,” 2007.

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“Me and Mrs. Jones,” Billy Paul, 1972, from “Soul Hits of the ’70s — Didn’t It Blow Your Mind” sampler, 1991. The entire series is out of print. Try “Me and Mrs. Jones: The Best of Billy Paul,” from 1999.

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“Bailamos,” Enrique Iglesias, from “Enrique,” 1999. (It’s also on the “Wild Wild West” soundtrack from the same year.)

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“Who Will the Next Fool Be?” Amazing Rhythm Aces, from “Stacked Deck,” 1975. (Packaged on CD with the “Too Stuffed To Jump” album.)

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“How Blue Can You Get?” B.B. King, 1970, from “The Best of B.B. King,” 1973. This album is out of print. This tune also is on “Live in Cook County Jail,” 1971. Whether it’s the same version, I don’t know. (It is, and thanks to Whiteray over at Echoes in the Wind for the heads-up.)

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Filed under August 2007, Sounds

Sleepy Sunday, Vol. 26

And so we have reached six months of Sleepy Sundays.

Hope you have been digging it. Please know that we have the blessing of Sleepy LaBeef, national treasure, to “keep it up!”

Today, Sleepy covers an Ernest Tubb tune from 1944. It’s also been covered by a young Glen Campbell and by Elvis Presley and the Statler Brothers.

It’s the title cut from Sleepy’s most recent studio album, and it makes the most of Sleepy’s big baritone voice.

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“Tomorrow Never Comes,” Sleepy LaBeef, from “Tomorrow Never Comes,” 2000.

If you want to watch Ernest Tubb sing it, go here and here. I like Sleepy’s version better.

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Filed under August 2007, Sounds

Thanks, Betty

Why Betty Trindal ever wanted to part with today’s selection is beyond me, but I hope to give it a good home and some new life.

This afternoon, after dropping Evan off at my brother’s lake cottage for a sleepover, I headed to one of the finest small-town record stores I know.

They still have angle parking on Main Street in Waupaca, Wisconsin, so I pulled up right in front of the Book Cellar.

Waupaca is a summer resort town, and the fine folks at the Book Cellar feed the Chain O’ Lakes visitors lots of used and new books and CDs. They have a fine selection of both. If you closely read No Depression, you’ll see that the Book Cellar is one of the record stores consulted by the magazine’s editors as they compile the monthly sales chart.

The good stuff is down in the basement at the Book Cellar. That’s where they keep the used vinyl. Working solo, I spent a good hour digging through the modest selection in the crates.

The rock, pop and country is mostly mainstream stuff from the ’70s and ’80s, though there’s a fair amount of older easy listening stuff. There’s a little jazz and blues, but not much in the way of R&B and almost no soul. Of course, this is central Wisconsin we’re talking about.

I found a few things, but most of them will have to wait for another time, when I have a little more disposable income.

There was one album I couldn’t pass up, though.

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I saw “Joe South” and “Games People Play” and grabbed it immediately. I’ve been looking for that bit of classic Southern R&B and soul for a while.

Then I looked closer at that cover and saw it was a Pickwick International release, not a major-label release. Hmmm. Those of us who are older than dirt remember Pickwick releases could be cheapies and knockoffs.

But the front of the jacket said “by arrangement with Capitol Records” and the back of the jacket said “previously released on Capitol Records.” So, for $5, how bad could that be?

I’m delighted to report that the vinyl is pristine and the tunes are the original versions.

I was 12 — Evan’s age — when I heard Joe South on WLS radio out of Chicago. “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” was No. 39 in the Top 40 in the last week of August 1969.

You know Joe South’s other hits — “Games People Play” and “Walk A Mile In My Shoes.” He wrote and performed “Rose Garden,” which was a huge hit for Lynn Anderson. He wrote “Down In The Boondocks,” a hit for Billy Joe Royal (another of our faves), and “Hush,” a hit for Deep Purple. He was a highly regarded session guitarist, playing for Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Tommy Roe and Simon and Garfunkel.

But Joe South’s work on his own album, the one Betty Trindal let go, is outstanding. Here’s the track listing:

Side One: Games People Play, All My Hard Times, Rose Garden, The Greatest Love, Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home.

Side Two: Walk A Mile In My Shoes, Mirror Of Your Mind, These Are Not My People, Birds Of A Feather.

Here’s the proof.

“Walk A Mile In My Shoes,” Joe South, from “Games People Play,” 1969. It’s out of print.

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Going with the flow

Ever go on vacation, and have a song or an album become the soundtrack to that trip?

That’s happening here this week, as our 12-year-old has commandeered the CD player in the car.

We’re not doing much, just hanging around town, but we listen to the same thing everywhere we go — music from “Naruto,” a Japanese adventure cartoon. Oops, sorry, anime.

Judging from its Wikipedia description, I can see why “Naruto” appeals to 12-year-old boys: “The main character, Naruto Uzumaki, is a loud, hyperactive, unpredictable adolescent ninja who constantly searches for recognition, as well as to become Hokage, acknowledged as the leader and strongest of all ninja in the village.” I can think of someone who fits that description. Yes, you, Evan.

So I’ve been listening to the same eight cuts, found on the Web, downloaded and burned onto a CD by our 12-year-old son. It’s an interesting little trip into the world of Japanese pop music. Most of it clearly is influenced by American pop-punk, but some also by ’80s pop.

“Naruto” is just the latest in a series of Japanese comics (oops, sorry, manga) and anime that Evan has dug.

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So I ask: Why Naruto, and not Spider-Man or Batman or some of their fellow superheroes?

“Dad, I like this.”

Maybe Andrew over at Armagideon Time, were comics and music peacefully coexist, can explain it all. (And he has! Please check the comments. Thanks, Andrew!)

I guess Evan isn’t all that different at 12 than I was at 11, when in the summer of 1968 I read:

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So, in the unlikely event you’d like to hear Evan’s favorite tune from his Naruto CD, here you go.

“Go!!!,” by Flow, 2004.

It sounds like Green Day until about 2:30 in, when there’s a 25-second bridge that’s a classic ’80s guitar solo. I just can’t put my finger on the influence for that. Maybe Starship. No, maybe Asia.

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I think I’ll resist the urge to offer any of the five versions of Neal Hefti’s classic “Batman” theme I have.

For today, anyway.

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I’m (no longer) Eighteen

Last month, undecided about whether to go see Alice Cooper when he came to town, I wrote a post about that. I confessed that I’d passed on previous opportunities to see Alice, saying I was just a casual fan. Still, the consensus was that I should go. So I went last night.

I have to be honest with you. It was one of the most disappointing shows I’ve seen in a long time.

Please don’t think I was naive about what I was going to see. Horror chiller thriller theater combined with hard rock. That it was. And, yes, it did have its moments, but not enough of them.

Easily the best thing was Eric Singer’s terrific drumming. A big sound, energetically delivered. Quite a treat.

They played most everything you’d want to hear, so no complaints there.

That said …

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Alice was OK, but it’s hard to buy his stage persona when he’s so otherwise intent on selling himself as nice guy, family man, golf fanatic, radio host, businessman. (Gene Simmons has the same problem these days.)

The rest of the band played with lots of energy, but the guitarists seemed in tune for only the first half of the show. If not that, then the sound mix left something to be desired.

The problem may be that Alice’s albums often are so lushly produced, so lushly orchestrated, that it’s impossible to reproduce that sound on the live stage with just two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer. The live show lacks the nuances of the albums, the quiet moments that give the shocks more sudden impact. Then again, that may be on purpose, old tunes given a new interpretation I really don’t dig.

After last month’s post, Willie left a comment that he’d seen Alice do an all-request show with no costumes or theatrics.

I’d rather have seen that show.

Easily the most disturbing thing was this: Anytime there was make-believe violence of any kind on stage, a young guy off to my left went absolutely ape shit. I don’t want to know what’s in that guy’s head.

Easily the scariest thing was this: One of our local TV anchors, wearing a biker’s black cutoff T-shirt, jeans and pointy-toed boots.

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Yeah, this guy.

If you’re curious about the visual aspect of Alice’s show, check out this blog and these photos, both from Alice’s show at the Missouri State Fair on Aug. 11. The show here looked much the same. (The photo of Alice is by Chuck Zimmerman, from his AgWired blog, also from last week’s show at the Missouri State Fair.)

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Filed under August 2007, Sounds like bull to me