I may have posted something about this before but, oh well: This is a song combining “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” with a recitation of James Taylor’s dialogue (maybe every line of his dialogue) from Two-Lane Blacktop. It shouldn’t work but it certainly does, at least to he ears of this lover of that film.
As I mentioned on Twitter last night, last night my wife, as a surprise early 40th birthday present, rented out Chicago’s beautiful Music Box Theatre for a screening of my favorite movie, The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, and invited a bunch of friends (including some who came in from out of town). It left me speechless in appreciation. I could wax poetic about that but I don’t want to get blubbery, so for those who were there or those who weren’t I thought I’d just share a sweet Louis Armstrong take on the movie’s most famous song, “I Will Wait For You.” (Accompanied, unfortunately, by a weird image of a woman holding a rose.) Thanks again, Stevie.
Calling a new Bob Dylan album his best since TimeOutOfMind has supplanted calling one his best since BloodOnTheTracks as the new lazy critical cliché. That said: “His best since TimeOutOfMind —Keith Phipps”
I had the great pleasure of writing at length about one of my favorite bands ever to team a saxophone against a guitar behind a frontman with faux-aristocratic airs, Roxy Music. (Actually, strike the qualifiers, one of my favorite bands ever, period.)
"From Michigan’s Motor-town, a new export was added to cars: The Detroit sound"
Noel Murray and I collaborated on this Primer about Motown and while I’m happy the way it turned out, it struck me that many of the artists could serve as Primer fodder of their own. I wrote the Stevie Wonder entry and covered his ’70s output simply by stringing a bunch of album titles together with some inadequate adjectives. (At least I called them “masterpieces.”) The project offered an excuse to immerse ourselves in Motown for a while and I think I can speak for Noel when I say it was a welcome excursion. Motown’s so ubiquitous—on soundtracks, in commercials, in the hears and souls of Baby Boomers—and so widely praised it’s easy to take for granted or, worse, grow dismissive of once you discover other branches of soul music. Berry Gordy turned out fine-tuned products that also happened to be, at their frequent best, great art.
I’ve got a music review up at The A.V. Club today for Buttons, a collection of Illinois power pop songs, from the 1970s and ’80s, most of them obscure even by power pop standards. It’s a pretty winning album—the folks at Numero Group always do good work—packed with gems like the above track, “Diamonds In The Rough” by The Vertebrats, a growing up lament with the lines “Turning nineteen’s / no fun anymore.” Tell me about it.
“There was a new man in the White House, a Georgian no less. [James] Brown had shaken hands with Governor Jimmy Carter, and donated to his antidrug effort. Carter had remained aloof, however, and Brown decided to see if he could make a friend. On January 24, 1977, Brown sat down and composed a lengthy epistle to Carter, in which he sought to explain himself to the new president. Brown shares with Carter his first sexual encounter and then his incarceration, very slowly meandering to the real purpose of the note: a request to refile his taxes and clear up his financial problems.
The president never responded.”
Recently I’ve found myself having to explain the band Shoes to a couple of people, which ought to be a surprising task for someone surrounded by music fans in Chicago. But I’m not sure the Shoes legend travels that far anymore, across space or time. I’d never heard of the Zion, IL band until I befriended Chicagolanders in college in the ’90s. Now they’re generating some attention thanks to a new album, their first since 1994. (The Chicago Tribune's Mark Caro had a nice profile of the now Kenosha, WI-based act in the paper last week.) Put simply: When it came to Illinois power pop acts of the late-’70s and ’80s, there was Rockford's Cheap Trick and then down several notches of fame, and then a few more, there was Shoes. But Shoes was, and remains, a great act, offering a dreamier take on power pop, marrying Beatles harmonies and ’70s power chords to Midwestern yearning. Above is a video for “Tomorrow Night”—the group got some play in the early days of MTV before the money came in and the walls went up—that's more persuasive of a case for the band's greatness than anything I could offer.
Be sure not to miss Noel Murray’s interview with English Beat’s Dave Wakeling. It’s one of the best Random Roles features we’ve done, in part because Wakeling speaks in fully formed anecdotes. And, of course, it’s a chance to reflect on the career of The English Beat (just The Beat in the U.K., but Paul Collins beat them to the punch here) and, briefly, on the career of General Public. Worth noting: The shortness of the group’s career and the decades of greatness packed into their short reign. If there are better, more inventive ’80s pop songs than “I Confess” (above) and “Save It For Later,” I don’t know them. (Even learning the play on words that is the latter’s title can’t ruin it.)
Occasionally I’ll need cheering up and I’ll listen to this song from The Barbarians, because if Moulty—a.k.a. the band’s one-handed drummer Victor “Moulty” Moulton—can get over his troubles, why can’t I? He almost gave up all his hopes and dreams, but then something inside him, way down inside him, told him to keep going on and on. Moulty!