Jan 292012

Will Your Mystery Date Be a Dream or a Dud?

The time has come to reveal our first-ever super-deluxe double-your-trouble Mystery Date. Mystery Date #1 brought to mind for many Townspeople Love‘s Forever Changes album, but not executed as well. (To my ears, as someone who thinks that Love album mostly blows, lack of execution was helpful.) Mystery Date #2 drove most Townspeople batty. Too bad dbuskirk hasn’t been around to help explain this part of the big reveal…after the jump!

Mystery Date #1 was “If You Believe in Christmas Trees,” by Cardinal, a Boston-based, early-1990s collaboration between Eric Matthews and Australian-born Richard Davies. Matthews was the arranger whiz, while Davies was the primary songwriter. The track was submitted by ladymisskirroyale. I don’t think I’d ever heard a Cardinal song before, but I always read good things about them, eventually buying a Davies solo album that I still like. I also bought a Matthews album around the same time, which I promptly dumped. It was all grandiose arrangement trickery and no soul. I liked that Cardinal song, but I found Matthews’ arrangements verging on cloying. The Davies album I own sounds more along the lines of Robyn Hitchcock’s mellow stuff.

Mystery Date #2 was “Can’t Get My Motor to Start,” by Nick Mason’s Fictitious Sports. This track was provided by tonyola. This is an album I’d long associated with cut-out bins. I knew nothing else about it beside my clear lack of interest in ever hearing any solo album by the drummer for one of the least-rhythmically interesting rock bands in history. My man tonyola set me straight, however, on the true nature of this album. As he put it in his submission note:

…this is actually an album written by avant-jazzer Carla Bley with an impressive guest list but released under the Pink Floyd drummer’s name (he did play drums on the record and acted as co-producer/engineer). An odd one-off curio of a record.

Who knew? Had I known in 1981, when this album was released and I was embarking on my freshman-year jazz odyssey I likely would have snatched a copy out of the cut-out bins. I tried to get into Carla Bley for a while, always finding a little bit to like but eventually thinking she and her band were too clever for their own good. And I know it doesn’t get any shallower than what I’m about to share, but her hair always bugged me. Like Eric Matthews, Bley is known for her work as an arranger as much as anything. One album she was essential to that I like a lot is the first by the Charlie Haden-led Liberation Music Orchestra. featuring the excellent “Song for Ché” and many other worthwhile “dashiki jams.”

Thanks to ladymiss and tonyola for their submissions, and thanks to those of you who played along!


  3 Responses to “Super-Deluxe Double-Your-Trouble Mystery Date Revealed!”

  1. tonyola

    Thanks for the shout out. I saw Fictitious Sports in a record store in 1981 and bought it on impulse without knowing a lot about it. When I played it at home, it certainly wasn’t what I expected, though I was intrigued. The Mystery Date track isn’t all that representative. Robert Wyatt handles most of the lead vocal duties on the album, and RTH Friend of the Hall Chris Spedding plays the guitars. The album is an odd mix of rockish and jazzish cuts all underlain by a dry humor. I consider it to be half-successful. Carla Bley is someone who has genuinely straddled jazz and rock over the years and deserves further discussion here. I’m thinking about preparing an article about her 1971 magnum opus, the ambitious and strange jazz opera Escalator Over the Hill. Here are my two favorite tracks from Sports – the almost-Floydish “Hot River” and “I’m a Mineralist”, a parody of John Cage/Philip Glass-style minimalism.


  2. I’m glad you mentioned that Robert Wyatt sang lead on everything else. I just learned that yesterday or the day before, which also happened to be his birthday, I think.

  3. ladymisskirroyale

    I really enjoy that Cardinal album; it’s range is greater than just evidenced on that one song. I chose that one because it clearly demonstrates the weird (but at times wonderful) combination of Davies and Matthews. The album was considered a kick starter of the Neo Chamber Pop movement and Matthews’ later orchestral work reflects that (he plays the trumpet and other brass instruments). Davies solo stuff can be odd, too, with changing time signatures and oblique lyrics, but he keeps to a pretty standard pop/rock instrumentation. Mod and I both own his album, “Telegraph,” which is one of my favorites. I sent this track in because Cardinal has now, after almost 20 years, released a new album. I’m interested in hearing it and what their more recent sound is like.

    Here is a more standard, pop tune from Cardinal – it makes me happy when I hear it:


Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube