Saturday, April 22, 2006

Bad Plus

We watched The Squid and the Whale the other day. The song that runs during the closing credits sort of evoked Lindesfarne. It turned out to be a Loudon Wainwright tune, which reminded me that I'd been meaning to post this tune, "School Days." It's a great song about being young and full of yourself, and then a little older and full of yourself, and still older and even more full of yourself.
I first heard a version of this song on the McGarrigle Sisters The McGarrigle Hour disc from a few years back. It's a very NPR kind of affair with all kinds of people, including Rufus and Martha Wainwright, making guest appearances. I'm sure none of you will be surprised to learn that Emmylou Harris shows up for some harmony vocals. But when doesn't she? I was initially planning to post a series of songs about different states. There can't be many songs about Delaware, and you have to wonder what Sufjan Stevens will do when he has to write a whole record about the place. Doesn't even really seem to warrant statehood to me, but maybe that's an ill-considered thing to say. I'm sure he'll at least cover this one. I noticed that Lee Friedlander took the photos of Loudon on the record jacket. This record is yet another one from the ever-growing stash that Alan Bisbort keeps dropping off at the office. I already liked LW for being the father of Martha and Rufus and for his appearances in the show "Undecided," but my affection cemented when I learned that he had a record called "Attempted Mustache."
"School Days" - Loudon Wainwright III

The connection to this Aztec Two-Step song. (... Yeah, that's right. Aztec Two-Step. Do you have a problem with that?) is the sort of Beat/poetic aesthetic. Wainwright plugs Keats and Blake. This song is about Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." That was another possible theme -- songs about Jack Kerouac and the Beats. But I couldn't think of anything besides that 10,000 Maniacs song and this. My first editor gave me this record when he found out I was an old-dumb-music obsessive (Aztec Two-Step definitely qualifies). He, my editor, also turned me on to the Left Banke and Music Machine (post to come). So, on the whole, he was pretty solid with his recommendations. I don't even think he was endorsing the Aztec Two-Step, just trying to pass off some old vinyl. Yeah, the opening conga action is borderline autistic, and songs about Jack Kerouac are possibly more, you know, terrible, than the actual writing of Jack Kerouac. But still.
"Persecution and Restoration" -- Aztec Two-Step

These last two are also from the Alan Bisbort stash. I had such high hopes for the Amazing Blondel when I first read about them -- period instuments, bad bald-mullets, soft-rock meets British folk revival, a nightmare mash-up. But I couldn't extract anything too compelling from the two-disc set featuring Inspiration and Mulgrave Street. But this song has a great tooting horn arrangement underneath it all, there's also a righteous baritone solo and a weird soft-serve do-wop vocal outro.
"Standing By My Window" -- Amazing Blondel

With this Dion track it feels like we’re in a death match with James Taylor and all of the forces of soft, effete, allegedly sensitive, but secretly demonic and callous, post-hippie consciousness that line up behind him. The Berkshires, all that. But what saves this is that it's not JT, it's Dion. One-time street-corner crooner, one-time junkie, one-time wannabe protest singer, one-time born-again whatever. Now I think he's got a blues record out. Dion has such a beautiful voice. You can hear the "My Friend Martin" phrasing creeping in. He did a Melanie cover, which shows good judgement.
"Running Close Behind You" -- Dion

I realize what unifies all this. If you average it out, it's basically 1972.

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