Aug 252009

Coming events!

While vacationing in Maine last week I attended a Tuesday night Clash of the Titans show that a Portland man about town named and musician Spencer Albee and DJ Mark Curdo promote every Tuesday night at a club called Empire Dine and Dance. Each week, two sets of local musicians cover about a half dozen songs by artists who are paired against each other for either their once-contemporary “rivalry” or influence. The artists play one song at a time, exiting the stage after each song. The show I attended with my friend, former bandmate, and occasional Townsman Dave Ragsdale and his two excellent nephews, Max and Roy, pitted Sam Cooke against Otis Redding. As I learned, the format makes for a long night out, but in the comfortable confines of the Empire, surrounded by a packed house of enthusiastic, unassuming Portland rock fans, it also makes for a refreshingly F-U-N night on the town unlike what I’m used to experiencing in my increasingly rare nights out at Philly clubs.

Dig… Continue reading »

Jan 062008

The riff in The Rolling Stones’ “Bitch” promises so much, yet the song never really goes anywhere. It’s like Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose” minus the repeating crescendo and the supercharged finale (go to the 1:35 mark of the following clip, if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

After a while, “Bitch”, as great as that riff is, just sits there. The band tries to crank it up to a new level, but they’ve got no firm gimmick, like Otis’ repeating climb. “Bitch” just dies at the finish line. It’s not a bad song – don’t get me wrong – but it’s nohwere near as great as it initially promises. I think even our most ardent Stones fans will give me that much.

On the other hand, there are songs that don’t start out like much but then pick it up and become something special. The following song is one that comes to mind for me. Continue reading »

Jun 132007

Real simple question: Are there great soul albums from the 1960s? We all take for granted that the art of album making didn’t really come into being until Rubber Soul et al, but beside James Brown’s Live at the Apollo, not a lot of great soul albums spring to mind if you discount hits collections and other live albums, such as Otis Redding’s excellent and fast-paced Live in Europe lp. I don’t own Aretha Franklin‘s Lady Soul, but that’s often a ’60s soul album that’s thrown into the mix when people list greatest albums of the ’60s. I know some of the songs from multiple hits collections of Aretha that I own. Is the album itself actually great and unified, or is it a typical collection of singles and cover tune filler?

Someone’s bound to suggest a Ray Charles album, and be my guest. I find his music boring in long stretches, but I’ll take your word for the genius of Ray Charles. Surely I am missing a truly great soul album that was recorded as an album in the 1960s! I think of soul album making beginning with Marvin Gaye‘s Let’s Get it On and Stevie Wonder‘s first mature works of 1970 and beyond. Surely I’m overlooking some earlier keepers. Make me feel stupid, Rock Town Hall!

Not really related…more of the fabulous Joe Tex after this jump! Continue reading »

Feb 222007

Townsman Trolleyvox hipped me to the following performance of a young Billy Preston doing a version of the song your Moderator believe best satisfies the objectives of rock ‘n roll:

Billy Preston, “Satisfaction”

That’s right, if you haven’t heard me on this already, I believe that no song better satisfies the objectives of rock ‘n roll than The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”. Every now and then I stumble across another version of this classic, and when I’m not dazzled by the outrageous treatment of the song (eg, both The Residents‘ and Devo‘s versions) or horribly offended (Cat Power‘s version), I’m usually about as unimpressed by versions such as Billy Preston’s as I am Otis Redding‘s version.

I know, I know, rock nerds – Mick and Keef wrote the song for Otis – but the black artists I’ve heard cover “Satisfaction” can’t get to the song’s cool and sly teenage rage. Otis belts it out like he’s expecting the exhaltation of a heavyweight boxer who’s gone the distance against The Champ. Here, Billy Preston just has fun with what the song has to offer. He’s satisfied. He’s not fooling me. Granted, those sorority girls who come out to dance in front of him and the band don’t help matters.

I can say that it’s a good thing the following dynamic duo is not documented having covered “Satisfaction”:


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