Episode Two is now ready for download. It's a smaller chunk, but between the problems discovered with Episode One, and time spent thinking on what discriminating palates really want, I figured cameos were the way to go. I'll be posting more often to make up for the brevity. Plus, because it's such an irresistible song, and was mulched on Episode One, I felt duty-bound to reinclude The Shirelles' "Soldier Boy". Dutch simplicity nothing, that song sounds downright Jamaican.
Here's the rest, with as few words as I can will myself to use:
1. Roy Orbison-Whirlwind So remarkable was Roy Orbison's voice in contrast to his watery and pallid-flesh villainous look, that MGM figured in front of a camera he was bound to take off. Exhibit A. 1967's The Fastest Guitar Alive, and B. everything you already know, coalesce around the truth of it: he did not. The movie sounds like a stinker (I don't lose sleep over not having seen it) and the soundtrack is middling to good. "Whirlwind", the opening cut, is fantastic, barring a lazy fire/desire rhyme, and a seriously fucked up Lolita-esque concept of women. It was the moment that dashed Orbison as a pin-up. Lately, listening to the fantastic second album by Antony and the Johnsons I can hear that bold, quivering sound Orbison invented, and relish knowing he was better off on the right side of the lens. I tend to think of Ella Fitzgerald as the great American singer, but Roy Orbison, I think is more the Grand Canyon. Not a metaphor.
2. John Coltrane w/Hank Mobley, Zoot Sims & Al Cohn-How Deep is the Ocean? Every time I kick my shoes and socks in a pile and lean back to ruminate on what a racist douchebag Irving Berlin was, I'm invariably, inconveniently brought to. The songs are superb. He was a savage motherfucker, and I guess one must forgive the weaknesses of old, when consecrating new hope. Despite the fact that I don't believe what I just said, let me vicariously flatter Berlin even further by adoring this fantastic round table tenor treatment of "How Deep is the Ocean?". This generation of listeners might best set it alongside Television's "Little Johnny Jewel" from the bootleg album, The Blow-Up. Where else might you find such competitive lyrical interplay without cover art involving a Boris Vallejo dominatrix on the spine of her dragon husband. A husband who, I might add, spits blue flames, and has a tattoo.
3. Donny Hathaway-Jealous Guy Hathaway captures all the selfish warmth of John Lennon which, I think, was always his best asset. It was released in '72, in that amber tube of belief that folks would continue to reinvent songs like this. And that slow-pump piano tune is so Bennie and the Jets...
4. Nikki Sudden & Dave Kusworth: Jacobites-Snow White I'm still not quite sure how it has worked out that Kusworth, who wrote this, has not been better rewarded by a grubby-fingers pop history machine that seems ever-poised to rediscover some lost thing. Be that as it may, I think Kusworth gave to the Jacobites fraternity much of the chipped pathos upon which its noble mantle rests. This song will be playing at my funeral, and at Ray's when I leave Philadelphia. A kind of silly funeral too.
5. Uncle Sam-Around the World Girls What an awesome convergence of dancehall and dubstep atoms. Somewhere, not here, the dorky guy is dancing with the nasty Canadian twins to this. Right now, I mean.
6. The Turbans-Let Me Show You Around My Heart Another great Philly doo wop act. That singer is Al Banks of South Philadelphia, a kindred spirit of Frankie Lymon; both modulated in ways that incorporated the feminine and masculine components of the song. I got it from a 78 I found in a box. We should all be so lucky as I am.
and of course The Shirelles.
Oh, and before I forget, I was banging around on the pipes at MagicisTragic's weblog last night, reminiscing over Arab Strap's luxurious 1999 downer, Elephant Shoe; the peanut shells, Rowhouse Red bottles and a brief essay can be found there now. At least I hope I remembered the essay.