Tag Archives: Nina Simone

Everybody Loves to Love Somebody in Italian

Shame on us. After our two posts on covers of the immortal, Bee Gees-penned “To Love Somebody,” you think we’d have some expertise on the subject. But, even though we included Nina Simone’s version on one of those posts, I was still blown out of the water by Nina’s Italian version that Joey Sweeney played yesterday on hisYRock DJ set. Sure, the instrumentation is very similar to her English version, mostly just dialing up some generic strings, but oh my God does this translate well to Petrarch’s tongue. And Nina’s.

Nina Simone, “Cosi Ti Amo (To Love Somebody)”

Previously: Everybody Loves to Love Somebody, Everybody Loves to Write About To Love Somebody

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Hot Tub Rock Show: David G’s Last Call List, Pt. 2

This week, Noise Narcs answers the age-old question: What five bands would you travel back in time to see in their prime? To see other responses, jump in the hot tub.

This is part two of David G’s Hot Tub Time Machine post, listed in chronological order. See Part 1 here.

3. Velvet Underground, 1966-1967

I’m not alone in seeing VU as the blueprint for our current generation’s music. All of the Hot Tub posts have been heavily slated to the ’60s. But if acts like the Stones and Beatles and Jefferson Airplane defined “60s music,” the Velvet Underground deformed it. As other music shot to the top of the charts, the Velvet Underground played music that would bubble up from the sewers: shaped noise, not pretty songs with sass and “substance,” was the real rock of the 1960s.

I can barely imagine the shock of their mid-60s live shows. This was the Billboard top 10 for 1966:

1. "The Ballad of the Green Berets," Sgt. Barry Sadler
2. "Cherish," Association
3. "You're My Soul and Inspiration," Righteous Brothers
4. "Monday, Monday," The Mama's and The Papa's
5. "96 Tears," ? and The Mysterians
6. "Last Train to Clarksville," The Monkees
7. "Reach Out I'll Be There," Four Tops
8. "Summer In the City," Lovin' Spoonful
9. "The Poor Side of Town," Johnny Rivers
10. "California Dreamin'," The Mama's and The Papa

Meanwhile, Velvet Underground was playing with Nico on Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable tour, with dancers (e.g., Edie Sedgwick), Warhol film projections, and miscellaneous performances by members of Warhol’s Factory. VU would play songs from their upcoming debut, and they would frequently end their shows with a jam they were calling “Booker T” (see my earlier Booker T and the MGs obsession), which would eventually form White Heat‘s chilling “The Gift.” What it comes down to, my fellow Narcs, is what side of the street are you on? The top 10? Or the VU?

Decent sounding bootlegs for this era are scarce, but Youtube user groovemonzter has taken a riotous live recording of “Run, Run, Run” from 1969 and mashed it with Warhol video from the Exploding Plastic Inevitable show. Pick your side wisely:

The Velvet Underground, “Run, Run, Run (Live, 1969)”

Kölsch in a Can (yuck, yuck)

4. Can, 1971-1973, Cologne, Germany

I know: this makes me the worst, a cliché right out of LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” (“I was there in 1968 / I was there at the first Can show in Cologne”). But if, as Matt K observes, the spiritual end of the 60s was The Rolling Stones’ disaster at Altamont, then Can is the sound of the 1960s being torn limb from limb. Even their name is an backronym for “communism, anarchism, nihilism.”

The date range is arbitrary, I’d be equally happy with the 1968-71 lineup that featured Malcolm Mooney as the lead singer (before his nervous breakdown led his psychiatrist to conclude Can’s music was bad for his mental health). But the period from ’71 to 74, with the subdued intensity of Japanese street singer Kenji “Damo” Suzuki at the helm, is when they truly hit their stride. Sure, it’d have been amazing to have been at their infamous six hour concert in Berlin (a walk in the park for the band: classic “Yoo Doo Right” was edited down from a twenty hour improv jam). But I’d rather see them on their home turf of Cologne, drinking Kölsch after Kölsch, as Can played their hypnotic pysch-funk until the world was rendered senseless.

Can, “Paperhouse (Live)”

Can, “Spoon (Live, Cologne 1972)”

5. Morphine, 1989-1990, Boston

In every way this is a stupid, wrong answer. Go ahead and close your eyes and ignore this; pretend I chose wisely and picked Nina Simone and embedded her un-embeddable “He Was Too Good to Me” from her gig at The Village Gate. But I didn’t. Like many foolish men before me, I got seduced by a fantasy:

I’m in Boston, a town I like but don’t love. I’m alone. After passing dreadful Irish™ bar after dreadful Irish™ bar, I give up and enter one. “Hey, where you going, $5 cover.” Seriously?“Yeah. Band tonight. Morphine.” Stupid name, I think as I pay and belly to the bar. Band has just started its set. Bass, drum, and sax, a stupid gimmick that I ignore. I drink, elbows on the bar, trying to figure out what I’m doing in Boston, what I’m doing with my life, what my next beer will be. And then I hear it. That sound. That goddamn driving sound, that sax slipping into every crevice of a stone rock groove. I push the guy in the stool next to me, sure that this has to be the opener, Who is this? He shrugs. And then they switch gears. A ballad. All that rock drive, all that forward groove, disappears. And my heart drops into my stomach, and any hope of finding whatever I came to Boston for slips from the face of the earth.

You’re probably asking, how would this work? Would the time machine also be an amnesia machine? Don’t you think Morphine would probably have packed a crowd in their hometown even in their early days? What kind of lame variation on the gem-in-the-corner-bar dream is this?

And to that, I say: screw you and your belief in an imaginary time machine. Go listen to Nina Simone, you sissy.

Morphine on a really lame-seeming French TV show:

And the ballad that dropped my imaginary heart:
Morphine, “You Look Like Rain (Live, Bootleg Detroit, 1994)”

6-10. Pavement

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Hot Tub Rock Show: Chris T

This week, Noise Narcs answers the age-old question: What five bands would you travel back in time to see in their prime? To see other responses, jump in the hot tub.

What 5 acts would I waste a time machine trip on to see in their prime?  It seems to me that there are two primary impulses to consider when answering this question.

Generally speaking, part of the essence of seeing live music is its unpredictability, and the first impulse is that desire to experience the unpredictable, energetic presence of the act.   Nina Simone might flip out on some random person in the audience with the audacity to get up to use the bathroom.  Scott Stapp might be too drunk and word-slurry to finish the show.  The point is that you don’t know!  Anything could happen because it’s the here and now.

The second impulse, which is not so much a function of live music as it is of time-machine fantasies, is the desire to witness and/or participate in something historic.  Maybe you want to be able to say, “I was at Altamont,” or “remember when Billy Joe got hit with a clump of mud at Woodstock ’94?  I threw that clump!”

My first pick (these five are ordered chronologically and not otherwise ranked) obeys this second impulse much more than the first.  It also totally rips off the answer given by the members of Grubby Little Hands when Dave asked them a version of this question:

#1: The Premiere of The Rite of Spring at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in 1913

The riots that erupted during this concert are mostly exaggerations, I suspect.  Did Camille Saint-Saens storm out within minutes over what he felt was an abuse of bassoons?  Probably not.  And according to Stravinsky scholar, Richard Taruskin, any punches thrown were more likely a reaction to Nijinksy’s radical choreography than to Stravinsky’s radical score.  Still, how could you not want to see a bunch of fancy-pants Parisians go even mildly ape-shit over something they saw at a ballet?  What a time to be alive.

Why it might not be a good show: If I’m invested in the old way of doing things.  If I get hurt in the riots.  If Coco Chanel finds me charmless and won’t laugh at any of my jokes.

About the clip: You can catch a reproduction modeled on Nijinsky’s original choreography here, but it doesn’t have any dinosaurs in it.  This does.

Pick number two, on the contrary, is much more about presence than history:

#2: Billie Holiday

Lady Day was undoubtedly one of jazz’s greatest singers as well as one of its most tragic stories, which says quite a lot.  She died at the age of 44 with 70 cents in the bank in a hospital room guarded by arresting police officers after a lifetime of withering drug abuse.  Everything that she ever recorded, even the happy songs, sounds sad when I hear it.

Why it might not be a good show: I don’t know, maybe if Glenn Beck were in the audience and he was eating potato chips really loudly and talking about how much Martin Luther King, Jr. took after him.

About the clip: I don’t know what this is from, but it’s a pretty high quality video recording of her singing “My Man,” which is not one of the happy songs.

See the rest of Chris T’s list after the jump

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Nina Simone answers with a rich girl

On Thursday, I made the claim that Nina Simone, despite her unwavering brilliance, would not be a wise choice for Hot Tub Rock Show time machine shows.

Nina Simone? You’re gonna take a chance on one of her notorious flipouts?

And then I run across this live version of Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl.” Which destroys the version from Baltimore in every way.

Yum yum yum. Crow sandwich. So delicious. Thanks for bringing it back to Philly, Nina.

Nina Simone, “Rich Girl (live, London, UK, 12/1972) [via Asian Dan via Philebrity]

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