Tag Archives: blues

Leon Russell and Elton John, "There Is No Tomorrow"

Has anyone ever seen Leon Russell and Walt Whitman in the same place at the same time? Think about it.

Upset about election results?  Living in a “blue state” [see what I did there]?  In what turned out to be a real nail-biter of a race, Pennsylvania is sending Washington its newest Most Conservative Senator, and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act, has been replaced by someone who thinks it “inappropriate” for a member of congress to be publicly critical of taking military action.  Also, the bootleggers, prison union and alcohol lobby proved too much for California’s Prop 19.

Well, then here’s something to pick up your spirits.  “There’s No Tomorrow” is from the recently released Leon Russell/Elton John collaboration Union.

Elton John and Leon Russell, “Theres No Tomorrow” [Buy Union]

I actually saw Leon Russell a few years ago at a pretty awful Allentown, PA venue with a name that strangely foreshadows this year’s collaboration, Crocodile Rock Cafe.  I remember an awesome rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.”  As a bonus, here’s one of my favorites, from Russell’s Carney (1972).

Leon Russell, “This Masquerade” [Buy Carney]

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Everybody Loves To Love Somebody

One of the latest releases from Sublime Frequencies (previously mentioned on NoiseNarcs here) is a compilation of music recorded between 1966 and 1968 by Indonesian a-go-go band, Dara Puspita (Flower Girls), whom the writers at Sublime Frequencies somewhat audaciously declare to be “arguably the world’s greatest all-female garage rock band.”  Feel free to argue in the comments.

Anyway, I was thinking about doing a post about them, but while doing some quick research on the group I came across their version of The BeeGees 1967 super-hit, “To Love Somebody.” So I decided instead to do a brief (and by no means exhaustive) round-up of some of my favorite remakes of that pop masterpiece.

In a sense, the song has no original version.  Barry Gibb wrote the song for Otis Redding, who unfortunately died in a plane crash before it could be recorded.  But take a moment to imagine what that would have sounded like.  It sounds awesome in my imagination.  Quite frankly, no other version could ever live up to it.

Nevertheless, we’ll commence with the song as recorded by the inimitable Brother’s Gibb:

The Bee Gees, “To Love Somebody”

Pretty excellent, but not really my favorite version.  With the exception of the opening verse, gently sung by Robin Gibbs (I believe), something about it seems a bit too precise, perhaps a bit overproduced with the soaring strings, French horns and fade-out.

Next, from what is probably her most commercial album, 1969’s To Love Somebody, here’s Nina Simone:

Nina Simone, “To Love Somebody”

In my view, there’s little wrong that Nina Simone can do.  This track and the rest of the popular covers on that album, while far from her best work, are no exception.

Now the much rougher Dara Puspita cut:

Dara Puspita, “To Love Somebody”

That is a lot of reverb, but it’s pretty sweet, don’t you think?  Imagine 9-year-old Barry Obama on the playground in Jakarta wallowing in the heartbreak of his 4th grade crush with the help of this song.  If you like it, then I highly recommend that you support Sublime Frequencies by paying them for an album.  This track happens not to be on their Dara Puspita compilation, unfortunately, but they’re a solid outfit that collects really awesome music from all over the place.

Last but not least, Janis Joplin slows it down.  Here’s a rendition where the horns really work. From I Got Dem Ol’ Kosmic Blues Again, Mama! (1969).

Janis Joplin, “To Love Somebody”

Have I left your favorite version out?  Let me know in the comments.

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Minutemusic: The Dead Weather, "Blue Blood Blues"

The Dead Weather is a rock super-group featuring Jack White (The White Stripes), Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), and Jack Lawrence (The Greenhornes).  “Blue Blood Blues” is from their second album, Sea of Cowards, released last month.

The Dead Weather, “Blue Blood Blues”

From Wikipedia:

Jack White explained the album title to The Sun: “The album title refers to the way the internet allows people to spit venom and knock people in a cowardly way using fake names.It seems to me that people aren’t teaching this generation anything about responsibility. The internet allows people to make a statement that the whole world can read and listen to-but they’re too much of a coward to leave their actual name.”

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Minute Music: The Black Keys, "Never Give You Up"

From soon-to-be-released Brothers (2010), which you can stream for free from npr.

The Black Keys, “Never Give You Up”

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Hipster puppies meets Wolf People

Mr. Cocomo still makes the “why are there so many ‘wolf bands’” joke, like five years after the fact.

Am I using London’s Wolf People as an excuse to post about Hipster Puppies? Absolutely. But I do think that Wolf People are a good substitute while I wait for Black Keys’ new album to come out. (Even if Tidings has a lot of filler.) Plus, who doesn’t love ’70s blues rock with flutes? Flutes!

Wolf People, “Cotton Strands”

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They Found a Cure for Pain

If only Mark Sandman had lived* to see the most recent advancements in neuroscience:

Prof. Zhou-Feng Chen and his colleagues here at Washington University have engineered mice so that they lack the gene for a peptide associated with the anterior cingulate gyrus. Like the animals given brain lesions, these mice are normally sensitive to heat and mechanical pain, but they do not avoid situations where they experience such pain.

Given the similarity among all mammals’ neural systems, it is likely that scientists could genetically engineer pigs and cows in the same way. Because the sensory dimension of the animals’ pain would be preserved, they would still be able to recognize and avoid, when possible, situations where they might be bruised or otherwise injured.

[Adam Shriver, “Not Grass-Fed, but at Least Pain-Free”, New York Times, 2/18/2010]

Jesus. Enough to make me want to ramp up my BS weekday flexitarianism into something more meaningful. But if factory farming is here to stay (it is), would ignoring this be any better than denying a pained animal opiates? Ugh. Not time to throw the drugs away quite yet, so here’s some Morphine for palliation:

Morphine, “Cure for Pain”

*Apparently, his heart attack may have been related to his being stabbed in the heart while working as a cabbie twenty years before his death. Who knew?

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Timber Timbre: Love in the Death-world

When Euridice dies, Orpheus descends into the underworld where he plays a love song begging the god of death to restore her back to life.  The song is so great and touching that for a few moments even Sysiphus takes a break to listen.  Hades is moved to consent under one condition: Orpheus is forbidden to look upon his beloved’s face until they’re all the way up and out.  Sounds easy, but at the last minute, Orpheus turns to check if she’s still following.  She was, but now he’s lost her forever.

Imagine that instead of returning home where a love-maddened mob of women jealously rip him limb from limb, the bereft Orpheus just stayed there, unable to move on, inside the mouth of the cave, neither dead nor fully living, playing rockabilly blues to a growing cult of dirt and worms.

It might sound a bit like Timber Timbre’s Timber Timbre (2009), which I’ve been obsessive-decomposingly listening to for the past week.  Taylor Kirk’s combination of old-timey American blues with eerie reverb, a ghostly chorus, and morbid lyrics makes this album sad without being saccharine and nostalgic without being dated.

Listen:

Timber Timbre – Demon Host
Timber Timbre – Until The Night Is Over

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