Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mike Nesmith at the Magic Bag

Legendary Monkees vocalist, songwriter and guitarist Mike Nesmith visited the Magic Bag in Ferndale last Sunday, April 7. An appearance by the enigmatic Nesmith is about as rare as the return of the Cicadas. I don't know if Mike has ever played the Detroit area on his own. The Monkees did play Detroit 40 years ago so this could have been Mike's first ever appearance as a solo in these parts.

If you know anything about the history of Rock you know that Mike was an accomplished songwriter (under the name "Mike Blessing") before the Monkees were constructed. Mike always fought against the 'hit-machine" aspect of the Monkees, insisting on contributing his own tunes. Though they were not the hit singles, his tunes were very memorable and highlights of the Monkee's catalog. As their career wound down, Mike's Monkee tunes, often featuring the studio pros who would go on to form Mike's first few solo bands, and featuring no other Monkee performing on them, spotlighted his interest in country and folk music. Mike
was there at the start of so-called "Country Rock" and deserves as much credit as the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers in popularizing country music to the rock audience.

Mike opened the show with the only Monkee song he would do in this performance, "Papa Gene's Blues" from the first Monkees album. After all, the Monkees recently concluded tour featured a healthy dose of Nesmith tunes, so perhaps he wanted to feature his extremely under-rated solo catalog. In contrast to the Monkees version, Nesmith's was slower, more reflective. He told stories before each tune, not so much how they were written, but setting the scene for the characters and stories that each song told. The version included here is from his live tour. Below is a version live with the Monkees.

Mike hit most of his catalog highlights chronologically, playing just about every notable Nesmith tune that had got near the charts or had been covered by other artists such as "Silver Moon," "Joanne" and "Different Drum" (a big hit for Linda Rondstadt and the Stone Pony's).

I've posted the setlist from cool website "Setlist.FM." Mike didn't vary the setlist any, at least from what I saw on the setlist site. The actual set list posted is from another night.

Mike Nesmith 2013 Tour setlist

Mike's band was great. Of particular note was the presence of Earl Scruggs grandson, Chris, who accompanied Mike on every kinda stringed instrument available. During the encore, "Thanx For The Ride" the pedal steel solo from the late, great Red Rhodes who was a member of Nesmith's First National Band was played at the appropriate point in the song. A great and fitting way to end the show.

For some reason, very recently Spotify has pulled all the solo Nesmith from the website. Don't know why these things happen. Would give you a healthy dose of it through my playlist. I did put the Monkees verson of "Papa Gene's Blues" on though.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Talkin' Baseball

Terry Cashman is one of those music business "jack-of-all-trades" guys who has, in turn, been a performer, songwriter, producer and label head. He co-wrote "Sunday Will Never Be The Same" a soft rock top 10 for  Spanky and Our Gang in 1967. In the 70's he co-founded Lifesong Records which hit gold with Henry Gross' Beach Boys sound-a-like weeper "Shannon." But he found everlasting fame, at least in sports circles, with his "Talkin' Baseball(Willie, Mickey and the Duke)" tune from 1981. Fans who were disappointed by the month's long Baseball strike bought it in droves. And, in true record biz fashion, Cashman would give them more of the same, with some variations, doing version's tailored to each major league team, the Baseball Hall of Fame, even a version for the The Simpson's TV Show. The original was not without charm, especially when heard in the run up to Opening Day, and it was kinda cool to hear a version with the hometown nine. But Terry did run it into the ground a bit. And his albums, featuring other baseball themed tunes, could be tough sledding. Most of them are on Spotify so you can hear for yourself. That "Talkin' Baseball" backing tape has got to be see-through by now!

Here's the vintage Tiger's version!

As I write this the Tigers just coughed one up to the Twins on  a walk off extra base hit. Phil Coke, who closed out the game in the away opener, got his feelings hurt when he nearly got taken over the wall. The best teams are gonna lose 60 games a year, even with Mariano Rivera on the mound in his prime, but this will open up the tiresome debate over whether the Tigers can thrive with a so-called "closer-by-committee." With opening day 36 hours away let's focus on the positive!

Above is the 68 Theme Song. Below is the 84 vintage Theme!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Song of the Day-"7 Baboker" by Yael Naim

Yael Naim first came to my attention when her song "New Soul" was personally chosen by Steve Jobs in 2008 to herald the release of the MacBook Air Laptop. There is no way that I would have ever heard this song on a conventional outlet as it did not fit most radio formats. On the strength of the constant commercial repetition this song went to number 7 on the US Billboard Single charts, the first top ten single ever by an Israeli solo artist.

As a sephardic Jew born in Paris, who later moved to Israel, Yael is multi-lingual and records in French, Hebrew and English. The song of the day is the beautifully sung "7 Baboker" from Yael's self-titled first release first release that contained "New Soul." The lyrics of this tune are in Hebrew. If you want to read the English translation, you can find it at this link. The lyrics are very simple, direct and poetic.

7 Baboker English Lyrics

Here is the song!


Friday, March 22, 2013

50 Years Ago Today

The Beatles first UK album was released 50 years ago today. Even though you can't listen to the Beatles on Spotify, Rhapsody, Mog or RDio, (at least not the Beatles tunes that most people are familiar with)through the miracle of You Tube, the entire album is available for your listening pleasure in one steaming chunk. The entire album was recorded in one 9 hour and 45 minute session in the London Abbey Road studios on February 11, 1963 and released about 6 weeks later. "Twist And Shout" featuring the throat-shredding lead vocal of John Winston Lennon was recorded last, due to John's battling a cold. "Hold Me Tight" was recorded but not used, and then re-recorded for "With The Beatles."

The title "Off the Beatles Track" was considered, but rejected by Beatles Producer George Martin. He also considered recording the album "live" at the Cavern Club but found it logistically unsuitable. The resulting document is essentially the Beatle's live show at that time.

The album is 39th on the list of Rolling Stone's Greatest Albums of All Time.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

International Pop Overthrow at PJ's Lager House April 4-6

PJ's Lager House in Corktown will be hosting the International Pop Overthrow, the music festival created and run by the one and only David Bash, rock music writer and theoretician par excellance! IPO, as it's called by it's many fans, comes to a new venue this year, with a $10.00 cover charge and 26, count 'em, 26 great local bands providing the rockin' backbeat from 7:30 Thursday to the wee small hours of Sunday morning(taking time out only to comply with local liquor laws and to change the kegs). A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Appropriately, the IPO starts the weekend the AL Champ Detroit Tigers open their season. The Tigers are the team that has bedeviled David's beloved New York Yankees the last few playoff runs. I hope David doesn't mind that I will be showing up after the Opening Day game, wearing my Tigers regalia.

I am gonna throw some links out to David's website, where you can read a lot of David's writings, reviews, top ten lists and the like. David writes very well. On his worst day about a 100 times better than I can write on my best day. And he doesn't have many bad days.

I also threw up a link to "Kim The Waitress" by the band Material Issue, who's seminal "International Pop Overthrow" release lent it's name to the whole enterprise. You can find more Material Issue on my Spotify "Chadwick's Listening Room" playlist. This great album, originally issued in 1991, is being reissued on the cool Hip-O Select label, with about an extra cd worth of bonus tracks. Material Issue main man Jim Ellison sadly killed himself in 1996, before there ever was an IPO festival, so the band never got to play IPO during his lifetime. Poignantly, the remaining members did play Chicago's IPO in April 2011 with recording artist Phil Angiotti taking Ellison's place. They played their most famous album from start to finish, along with some other fan favorites.

Here are the links with info on Detroit's IPO

PJ"s Lager House

International Pop Overthrow

IPO 2013 Detroit Schedule

David Bash's Blog

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Song is Mark Digging At This Very Second-"Hittin' Where It Hurts"-Webb Wilder

Webb Wilder aka John Webb McMurray released the "Hybrid Vigor" album in 1989. I bought this cd "sound unheard" from the old Repeat the Beat store in Royal Oak. It just looked kinda cool. I think it was in the used bin. Back in the day, I was the RTB lawyer and I got paid in trade (Ha Ha It's 24 years ago Mr. IRS Man!). I would come in to one of the fine RTB outlets and knock a hundey off  my legal bill by getting a box of new releases, catalog stuff, used, whatever. Impulse buying at it's best.

Loved this cd, and the first tune, "Hittin' Where It Hurts" set the proper tone for this rockin' disc. Webb is still recording, at least he was as of a 3-4 years ago but his early stuff is the best. Rootsy, kind of Americana sounding, with a deep resonant hillbilly voice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Would You Like Some Cheese With That?-"Do That To Me One More Time" by The Captain & Tennille

I like a good piece of radio cheese as much as the next guy. I found "Love Will Keep Us Together" to be a prime example of good cheese. Written by certified platinum Brill Building tunesmith's Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, and originally recorded by Neil himself, the song broke big in 1975 hitting number one on just about every chart in the world, including Billboards. Though my rock-n-roll loving buds dissed it, I proclaimed my like for this song, finding it to be bouncily tuneful. I liked Neil's mid 70s comeback tunes too like "Bad Blood" which was to Neil what "Whatever Get You Through The Night" was to John Lennon, a good tune no less helped by it's connection to the Elton John Platinum Hit Machine. Bonus points for the fact that the Captain had played keyboards with the mid 70's Beach Boys.

Five years later, down on their luck and signed to Casablanca, Toni Tennille plays this demo to label head Neil Bogert who proclaims "It's a HIT BABY!" Sometimes life is stranger than art. The song is recorded giving The Captain and Tennille their second and final number one hit, launching Toni Tennille into a solo career that was pretty much roundly and soundly ignored. This tune made LWKUT sound like "Jumping Jack Flash" making many listeners wish the group were called "A Chainsaw Wielding Maniac and Tennille." Further releases flopped and the chart run of the Captain and Tennille was over. Further Toni Tennille Trivia. She sang on the backing tracks of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" album along with Beach Boy Bruce Johnston ("The Show Must Go On").