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.