Monday, December 10, 2007

Aboriginal Trenchtown Garage Soul

We made a little discovery here last week at the northernmost branch of the Driftwood network. Dewey Dell and Lefty had headed into the snow for a snap caucus. Shepherds pie was made and eaten, bottles of Chimay were uncorked and emptied, tumblers of Knob Creek filled and re-filled. Lefty and I stepped into the frigid night to get the sting on our face, get the heart pumping. Vinyl was spun, top-secret CDs played.

The discovery was a small one, but in our musty, tea-stained little world, it was sort of like when the yard-sale fanatic realizes he’s purchased a framed jigsaw puzzle that actually has a draft of the Constitution pasted to the backing. Or the museum clerk who dusts off an old canvas in the storage room only to find a Velasquez study. Or it was the scene in the legal thriller where there’s a montage of everyone cramming for the big case, eating Chinese take-out, struggling against the odds and the clock, and a breakthrough is made; crucial documents are unearthed in the stacks of manilla folders. Or maybe it’s just more like the guy who thinks he’s out of smokes and then rejoices when he realizes there’s still one left in the pack before he throws it out.

As you know, we get all worked up about the Bee Gees here. Just about any period of their music is cause for windy hyperbole and extended verbal groping. We’ve posted from Trafalgar, Odessa, Mister Natural, the disco era and more. And so, after a night of festivities, the next morning Lefty and I were kicking some vinyl about, mostly trying to minimize the throbbing in our heads. I was going through my Bee Gees collection to see if I had anything that Lefty was missing. And I put on side two of Rare, Precious and Beautiful. It was on low.

What do you call this? Aboriginal blue-eyed Trenchtown garage soul? We were thoroughly stumped. There are places where the entire sonic spectrum sounds like it could have been generated from the metallic plinking of teensy-weensy tines on some music box. Listen to "Monday’s Rain." The apotheosis of vocal vibrato. The pinched highs, the nasal trills, the chest-exploring lows. Acrobatic falsetto, saved for the very end. Then, the tin-can percussion and quasi-balalaika on "Jingle Jangle." And "Born a Man" with its dada pygmy scat outro and little twist of misogyny. These songs are like Russian dolls, with scooped-out hollowed centers save for the miniature reproductions of themselves inside.

1 comment:

Lefty said...

This post is not only brilliant, but also completely accurate, I can confirm. And in fact we did find an original copy of the Bill of Rights pasted inside the cover of a Brewer & Shipley LP.