Thursday, November 10, 2005

Chronic Anachronic/Here and Warm

This is true. When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade I had an 8-track of Bob Welch’s French Kiss. In my little world, BW and that 12-string, or whatever, the high creepy fake-tender singing, were equal with the Beatles and Elvis Costello, the other reigning lords of my musical universe. Is there a better first line than "You are here and warm," from "Sentimental Lady"? As I understand it, BW has gone on to become a producer in Nashville. As you know, BW was a member of Fleetwood Mac before Stevie and Lindsey brought the Wicca and the wacko to the group. BW was also in a band called Paris, which I’ve never heard, but hold out unrealistic hope for.

I’ve got this whole system of soft-rock equivalencies for contemporary indie acts. It works like this Cat Stevens = Devendra Banhart (just watch the Cat Stevens DVD [complete with mime shit] and you can see the unhinged core beneath the quasi-mystic ecstatic action). James Tayor = Iron and Wine (Lefty pointed that one out). As mentioned, Stealers Wheel = Teenage Fanclub. Bread = either Wilco or Ween (you pick). You get the idea. Well, the flow chart with Bob Welch is pretty bifurcated and complex. I can hear real traces of BW in the too-high vocals and dystopianism of Grandaddy. There’s also a touch of him in the Flaming Lips. And I swear that, maybe by some accident of constitutional robotic stiffness and a general lack of emotion, BW beat Neil Young to the classic-rock android Kraftwerkian rip-off of Trans. But here’s the real imaginary decoder’s delight: Bob was an early exponent of the Chronic style, with the ultra low bass and the synth squiggles. The Ghost of Flight 401 has got it all. Give a listen. A transportation distaster ghost story.

In my zeal to convert new fans to the Bob I was once gratified when an old friend special ordered a then Japanese-only import of French Kiss because he was so filled with the spirit.

Beware. Once you get past Two Hearts things get really difficult to justify.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Poncho. I wasn't kidding about my BW thing. My secretary caught me staring at the French Kiss cover during my lunch break. How embarassing! I couldn't come clean and tell her that I was transfixed by HIM (white pants, shades), rather than her.
I'm very impressed by the Japanese import story. You've had more luck than I in bringing people to Bob. I congratulate you.
Do chain stores still have those special imports sections for mainstream records? ("Imports") I'll check the FYE down the street.
Thinking hard about the BW family tree. I heard something by Broken Social Scene that, vocally, reminded me of Thin Lizzy. Not to mix apples and oranges, but if one listened closely I think he might find traces of Bob in there too. As for the instrumental/compositional/ethical BW family tree: I'm stumped, at the moment.
On a related point, I had the unpleasant realization that some of the stylings of the Animal Collective -- the dopey, plummy, sing, sing, singy bits mostly -- reminded me of XTC. Gawd! I can hardly listen to them now, and I was ready to make a list just to put them on it.
I need to digest the America track. Read: run out to the megastore and buy the whole damn catalog. I may have to trade in some of my rare Italian improv records to finance additions to the Soft Collection -- or not: most of that stuff should be the Nice Price.
Yours, check you later, thanks again, stay gold,

curtsy said...

Since Cheap Trick was resurrected by indie hipsters back in the mid-90's, I have long expected a re-evaluation of BW.