Wednesday, October 03, 2007

That Tinkling Sound

Is there an instrument less "rockin’" than the harpsichord? Maybe the flute or the accordion. That’s partly why I love the Left Banke. They were not only unafraid to dabble with a little harpsichord here and there -- like lots of late ‘60s acts -- but these guys pretty much embraced the instrument, clearly made for powered inbred funny-pants-wearing monarchs, as the essence of their sound. There’s a reason they got labeled "baroque and roll" (big points to whoever coined that one). I love the way they would do this thing of adding absurd chamber orchestra bridges, and then, rather than working their way back to the verse, they’d simply pause, maybe throw in a drum break and then start back over. The Left Banke also had a high degree of intra-band hatred going on, almost Dinosaur Jr. levels, the main songwriter had a huge crush on one of the other guy’s girlfriend, and penned some of their best songs ("Just Walk Away Renee") were basically veiled hints that she should switch boyfriends. "Barterers and Their Wives" is totally renaissance faire material. I mean, you can’t really write a song that uses the word "barterers" without having it conjure the plague.
As an added bonus, here’s "Session Man" from the Kinks’ Face to Face. You’ll be interested to know that it’s an ode to pianist Nicky Hopkins, he of those chords on "Sympathy for the Devil" as well as countless other classic Stones tunes, and the session man on this track. I worship the line: "He’s a session man, a chord progress-ian."


Frankie Lee said...

I like the fact that the Stones singled out Nicky Hopkins for thanks on the back of Beggar's Banquet.
(that's the plain white cover, not the one w/ the toilet on it). He deserved it.
The tinkling sound of the harpsichord always makes me laugh for some reason.

Anonymous said...

(john here) the Stones were probably "thanking" Nicky Hopkins because they knew he played a vital (read key songwriting) role in the record and they simply didn't want to give him any songwriting royalties. (Sort of like they did with Ron Wood on Black and Blue)

Frankie Lee said...

Yeah, there were a bunch of people who deserved a lot more than thanks from them.

Lefty said...

Yeah, that's all well and good, but listen up: John, I hereby forbid you to post as "John" anymore, okay? Mr. PONCHO!

Hear that everybody? We's using code names.