Thank you for opening my mind to the psychedelic sound of EXCEPTER.



I have to admit to one of my pet sub-sub-genring ways; I have a deep affinity for songs and albums made by pre-British-invasion-era artists trying to remain with it in the mid to late 60s, or as I call them PBIEATTRWIITMTL6Ts (which is why I don't talk about them very often).
If you've been here for some time you already know I consider DION AND THE WANDERERS to be one of the best thing that happened to humanity.
But there are many other examples of great songs made by artists who had commercially peaked before the Beatles, and whose attempts at remaining current are both convincing and cute: MEL TORME, THE FOUR SEASONS (that whole album is a golden example of what I'm talking about), PEGGY LEE, ROY ORBISON, DEL SHANNON of course, and that's just what's on top of my head right now.
And one day I found possibly the best album of that whole sub-sub-genre: BOBBY DARIN BORN WALDEN ROBERT CASSOTTO, a 1968 oddity full of references to LSD and social changes, written, arranged, produced, designed, photographed and released on hiw own label, by the man I mostly knew for bringing Kurt Weill and Charles Trénet into the American charts. Just dig these:



CHRISTOPHE CHASSOL is already quite well known among French "musos" as a virtuoso who's been playing keyboards with the best of them for years.
But in the meantime, as a solo artist, he was secretly experimenting with the very concept of sampling, made even more interesting by the fact that he'd use videos as a source, so that when he loops sounds he loops images as well; and so he's been posting some MARTIN ARNOLD-like crazy videos for a while. Enjoy one of the most engaging and beautiful: INDIANKIDZ.
And then he's come up with the concept of ULTRASCORE, which consists of scoring a piece of pre-existing film footage, using all the sounds on it - for instance, dialogues.
Here is one example that's so good it's been driving me insane: based on the audition scene in PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, I give you YOUR NAME'S NOT ON THE MUSIC.
CHASSOL's X-PIANOS will drop in February as a 2-CD/DVD set. That and LEONARD COHEN's new album are my two most anticipated releases of 2012.



It seems that in the 1990s, COWBOY JUNKIES featured in every soundtrack. It also seems that their music has aged better than most so-called "essential" 1986 music; theirs is not a case of "you had to be there".



JONATHAN RICHMAN didn't really invent punk rock - but he did. However, he WAS the best songwriter to appear in the seventies.
I can't get enough of these early Modern Lovers live recordings, that have certainly been circulating in the bootleg market for forty years, and are now readily available on Youtube.
Infinite thanks to "roots66", the youtube user who uploaded these four tracks, recorded in NY on December 31st 1972, as the MODERN LOVERS were opening for the NY DOLLS.



Born to run? Candy's Room? Highway Patrolman?
No no no. Springsteen's best song is PHILADELPHIA.And for that matter, so is NEIL YOUNG's.



When the most beautiful music meets the most horrible images.
Both the images and music are vintage; this is a real 1980s safety video for factory workers (AFAIK).
Brought to my attention by Alexis P. Thank you.



How could I manage to not know this song for twenty years? Thank you my friend AXEL KRYGIER for playing me this amazing-sounding (engineered and mixed by Tchad Blake) psych-cumbia gem.



I had the pleasure and the privilege to work with DJ MEHDI a few years back. The man lived and breathed music. All music. He once told me his two favorite bands were The Beatles and Public Enemy. His favorite song was I SHALL BE RELEASED. He had a tatoo that read "Anyday now" on his back. What we recorded together was never released for some bullshit legal reasons. In the back of my mind, I always thought we'd work together again someday. I hadn't counted on how cruel fate can be. My thoughts are with his family.
Rest in peace Lucky Boy...



ROBERT GORL's solo album is to DAF what ALAN VEGA's solo albums are to SUICIDE.



After flopping ten times with FELT, after the demise of DENIM, LAWRENCE could have called it a day. Instead he came back with GO-KART MOZART, and released his most bizarre album INSTANT WIGWAM AND IGLOO MIXTURE, where he is at his most caustic and his most desperate. An album I've tried to share with friends, but only understood and liked by this fraction of them for whom the best band ever is THE RESIDENTS.



Shit that cat is cool.



I mentionned RICET BARRIER one year ago. And now he's died. I wouldn't even have found out if I hadn't subscribed to his newsletter.



I hereby officially name this The Song Of The Summer 2011.
The Beach Boys - Kokomo par KrXtophe



Summertime. My daughter is picking flowers in the gardens and I am picking LPs in streetfairs. This weekend's top find:



Oh no. Not him.



This is just one out of a million jams I discovered thanks to MISSISSIPPI RECORDS' mixtapes series (75 volumes so far and counting).
This is electronic dub from Sweden.



ZZ TOP has got to be one of the most misunderstood bands out there. I hear people say all their songs sound essentially the same. That couldn't be further from the truth. In fact their sound kept changing while remaining in the same tight framework. A considerable achievement for a band that has kept going for 40 years without a single line-up change or a solo album by any of its members.
I already posted here about my love for ELIMINATOR, but these days I've been going loco for their previous LP, EL LOCO, their first attempt at blending electronic sounds with their usual southern boogie riffs. It also features their sole (as far as I know) troo yacht-rock song, LEILA.



I already mentionend KASSAV' here somewhere. One of my favorite songs by them is called SOLEIL, from their second album (they do have some even better jams on their masterpiece, KASSAV' N°3). And what do you know, here's a GREEDIT of it.



In 1990, Belgian Abdel Hamid Gharbaoui, better known as BENNY B released VOUS ETES FOU!, which would become the first hip hop hit single in French. Very quickly, more "serious" rappers will follow and they will all, without a single exception, dismiss him as a big joke, like, say, Vanilla Ice. Sure, he was not "street" enough, appeared in many family-oriented TV shows, didn't have a "message", and so on.
However, with 20 years insight, after the first wave of French hip hop has been followed by many acts that were also messageless jokes, we can reassess this song with more indulgence.
I would even go further than that: while the "serious" rappers of the time were all essentially apeing Public Enemy, BENNY B was the only one showing his true colors and repping the sound of young Belgium, since he was basically rapping over NEW BEAT jams.
You be the judge:

Because I enjoy this track so much, I had a little fun and made my own version, using the best bits of the "Wild Mix" and the Acapella, both on the B-side of the 12".
Enjoy VOUS ETES FOUS! (Whistled & Tasted).



Bob Segarini of The Family Tree remembers Nilsson - including a song I didn't know:

If you read the Top Ten lists in Monday morning’s mailbag, you will recall seeing Harry Nilsson’s name quoted as an influence in a couple of the entries.

I commented that he is probably the most underrated American songwriter of the last 50 years. He is.

I was introduced to Harry in early 1965 by a wonderful woman named Patty Farrella. Patty worked at RCA, (in what capacity, I do not recall), and was a young music lover and deep into the great clubs and music in and around Hollywood. She was also ridiculously connected.

Harry had made a couple of so-so recordings for a minor label in L.A, but Patty knew he had the goods. She also had become a friend of mine through shows my band, The Family Tree, had played at the Whiskey, and had even flown up North to see us play in Modesto, California. She got into an argument with a cop at the show and managed to get herself and a couple of others tossed into lock up because she told the cop to fuck off. Strong language the officer couldn’t wrap his head around, especially coming from a hot, red headed young woman with cute little freckles and the face of an angel.

Patty was a ballsy, intelligent, sophisticated young woman, disguised as a cute little girl. A strange combination in 1965.

It was Patty that took The Family Tree’s Mira demos to RCA and got us a record deal with a Major, back when Majors were just that… a MAJOR record label. For four kids like us, it was like winning the lottery, getting laid, and being able to fly, all rolled in to one shiny package.

At the same time, Harry had also been picked up by RCA, and like us, and Jefferson Airplane, and Jose Feliciano, had been placed in the hands of their youngest, hippest in-house producer, (remember them?), Rick Jarrard.

Harry was working in a bank at the time, holding onto his day job and writing at night. He looked like the classic little kid that knew how to behave in front of adults, but would tie up the baby sitter and break into the liquor cabinet when mom and dad went out for dinner, all innocence and “aw shucks”, and, hanging his head, the devil in disguise, get away with it.

Patty introduced Harry and me almost immediately, and we really hit it off. At Patty’s apartment the first time we met, we passed an old acoustic guitar back and forth and played our songs for one another. Up until this moment, I had not been impressed by any of my peers that were in basically the same, unknown, wanna-be position that I was, save a guy that lived with Susie Hocum at the same time I did, (Google her), when Susie would take in young musicians that needed a place to crash. He never played any of his tunes for me, but he was a great guy. His name was Gram Parsons.

So Harry is dutifully impressed when I play him a tune or two. I hand him the guitar, and he starts singing: “Well in 1941 a happy father had a son
And by 1944 the father walked right out the door
And in ‘45 the mom and son were still alive
But who could tell in ‘46 if the two were to survive…”

‘Holy crap’, I thought, ‘this guy is amazing.’

Then he sang another, and not only has the song remained one of my all time favorites, he sang the entire first verse with ONE BREATH!! I STILL can’t sing it the way he did without gasping for air…

“I spend the night in a chair
Thinking she’ll be there
But she never comes
And I wake up and wipe the sleep from my eyes
And I rise
To face another day
Without Her
Do do do, do do do do, do do do do…”

Double holy crap!

Back and forth we went, becoming fans of one another, and fast friends by just passing that guitar between us. We saw in each other the shared love of music, hope, and respect we both sought, while Patty stood leaning in the doorway, the same smile of accomplishment on her face that must have crossed the face of the guy that introduced Baskin to Robbins.

When Harry was recording Pandemonium Shadow Show, (the name, a line from Ray Bradbury’s, “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, which Harry wanted to call the album, but Bradbury’s people wouldn’t license), I played piano on Cuddly Toy, and Vann and Kootch from the Family Tree played drums and bass. We were livin’ the dream, man.

I had been writing the Tree’s album, Miss Butters, by then, and Harry and I wrote a track called ‘Butters Lament” for the project. It wasn’t until after his death and ‘Personal Best’ was released, that I discovered he had recorded a version of the song as well.

People would tell me years later that I wrote like Harry, and I used to say, “Yeah, well he writes like me, too”, but Harry wrote like Harry, and no one before or since has come close. Melancholy, humour, and rage, shaken and stirred, and delivered in a velvet glass.

Some highlights of our friendship:
Getting thrown out of Thee Experience along with Mickey Dolenz, my next-door neighbor at the time and one of Harry’s best friends, for starting a snowball fight by ordering a pile of cheap champagne that came in buckets filled with shaved ice, and hitting a nice family from Ventura who demanded our ejection. Marshall Brevitz, the owner, explained to them that we were valued customers and he couldn’t do that, but he’d comp their meal.
We didn’t get thrown out then.
We got thrown out when Marshall got pwnd with a barrage of snowballs from Harry, Mickey, and I. We did drink the champagne the snowballs came with…
Dolenz didn’t recall this years later when I brought it up, but it happened.

Introducing Harry to the president of the Family Tree Fan Club, Diane Clatworthy.
Diane was so in love with Harry she would cry every time his name came up. I arranged a date. Diane became Harry’s first wife, and mother to Zack, his first child.

Having Harry drive all the way up to Stockton California to show off his first Royalty check purchase…a used Jaguar sedan. It was on this trip he wrote some, or all of, One on the same piano on which I had written the Miss Butters album.

Drinking at Martoni’s in Hollywood, not only for the great martinis and pasta, but to wait for Dean Martin to come in for dinner. I don’t remember if he ever did. Martinis will do that to you…

Harry’s ‘shit stories’. There were three of these. He must have told these anecdotes hundreds of times while I knew him, one after the other. They never failed to break me, and everyone else up. The only one I remember was about the time he fell asleep on the can, woke up to answer the phone, and fell over and knocked himself out because his legs were asleep and not working.

Sitting in Aldo’s on Hollywood Blvd in the late afternoon listening to all the record reps discuss their current releases and their chances at KRLA, KFWB, and KHJ. Loud jackets, much alcohol, great stories, and the lowdown on what new records and artists were exciting to them. These long forgotten foot soldiers of the record industry were colorful, hilarious, and entertaining. They would exchange their labels product with each other out of the trunks of their cars. It was all about the music. Our friendship with Tony Richland, (Mr. Richland’s Favorite Song) came out of these afternoons.

Our friendship ended over the last Winston in a pack of cigarettes and a tank of gas. Well, that and Harry’s burgeoning friendship with George, then Paul, then Ringo and John. I was also introduced to Derek Taylor by Patty Farrella, but I was so busy trying to play the Family Tree album, (Miss Butters) for him on a reel to reel tape recorder I slugged into his house, that I failed the ‘cool’ exam. Derek and I remained friendly, however.

Harry of course, went on to become part of the Beatle family, and honestly, I’m thankful I didn’t. I don’t think I would have survived it.

Harry had always been driven by abandonment issues, (1941 is the story of Harry…those things really happened), the rage he carried toward his father, and the feeling of not being ‘good enough’ to be where he was. He could be, like Lennon, a vicious, nasty bastard, and then ‘aw shucks’ you right back into forgiving him.
There is a track on the CD reissue of Miss Butters called He Spins Around. It is about Harry.

The last time I saw Harry was in line at the Carnegie Deli in New York. He was in front of me in an overcoat and I recognized the back of his head somehow. He was on his way to London to hang out, record, and move into Ringo’s flat for a while. He looked world weary, but still had the old twinkle in his eye. We reminisced while his limo idled out front, caught up, and had a few laughs waiting for our medium old fashioned (pastrami) on a Kaiser with double mustard, pickle on the side. When I asked after Diane, he said that they had gotten divorced, the twinkle in his eyes dimming, with what I could only imagine was caused by leaving his wife and young son behind, of abandoning them, of becoming his father.

Years later, I learned that this was the trip to the airport when he met Una, his second wife, and started his large, lasting family. He only abandoned them on his passing, which came way too early, to a man that probably had much more to share with us before he left.

Miss ya, Harry."



The last celebrity (sortof) death of 2010: NICK SANTO, lead singer of the amazing CAPRIS, a band that loved doowop so much they kept at it well past 1961. This classic tune was cut and released in 1982 and was the last doowop song ever to make the US charts (unless you count Lauryn Hill).