“I Be Cold” by Yusef Lateef
Look what we’ve got here at Hymie’s for a short while — the very last copies of Let it Bleed by the Fuck Knights, which was sold out at the release show a couple years ago and never hit stores here in their hometown! The Italian label Boss Hoss Records put it out, and they were able to snag the few remaining copies while they were touring Europe last month. GD Mills himself carried these copies as his carry-on!
“Bind, Torture, Kiss”
We’ve got a half-dozen copies of Let it Bleed, along with plenty of copies of The Wildest Things in the World Volume Two, a four-band split 7″ that puts the Fuck Knights alongside noise-makers from the far corners of the Earth: Wildmen (Rome), Hollywood Sinners (Toledo, Spain) and the Frowning Clouds (Melbourne).
If this wasn’t enough fun news for local garage rock fans we also heard that the local Four Band Freakout compilation — Featuring the Fuck Knights, Narco States, Mary Ellen and the Percolators and Mystery Date — will be out at the end of the month! Got to hear this the other day courtesy of those awesome Narco States fellas, and it’s a rockin’ party in a tiny package!
Thanks to everyone who came out to the last Hymie’s Record Roadshow at the Turf Club last night — Over the past couple years we’ve had a ton o’ fun spinnin’ & slingin’ records there with an awesome variety of guest DJs. Last night John Henry — from the awesome metal trio Nightosaur — absolutely killed it. What a fun DJ! John also taught us that if you play your 45 of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” at the wrong speed it becomes a heavy dubstep jam.
We’re going to put the crates to rest for a little while this winter, but the Roadshow won’t be retired. Maybe we’ll go back to combining it with some awesome live music, like we did at the Cedar in ’10 and the Triple Rock in ’11.
And we’ll always love the Turf Club — headed back there tonight, in fact, for the Cactus Blossoms’ live album release!
Last Wednesday we introduced our treatment for a feature film based on the life of bandleader and composer Quincy Jones (read it here). We followed the twenty-seven time Grammy winner from his childhood on the south side of Chicago through his successful career as a bandleader, record producer and Hollywood film composer.
At the end of the first half of our story, Quincy suffered a pair of severe brain aneurysms. Believing he would not survive, his family arranged a memorial service at the Shrine in Los Angeles.
Part II of our story opens ten years later…
Quincy Jones wrote, produced or arranged all the records you’ll hear in The Quincy Jones Story, except for a few early recordings intended to capture his youthful experience with the great big bands. We take the text for our story from his own recollections in an interview with Alex Haley in the July 1990 issue of Playboy.
I knew it from the first time I heard it … because the hair stood straight up on my arms. That’s a sure sign, and it’s never once been wrong. All the brilliance that had been building inside Michael Jackson for twenty-five years just erupted … That energy was contagious and we had it cranked so high one night that the speakers in the studio actually overloaded and burst into flames. First time I ever say anything like that in forty years in the business.
“Wanna Be Starting Something” performed by Michael Jackson (from Thriller)
Part II, Scene II: Back in 1974, Quincy’s jazz career had been sidelined by his health condition. While recording his first album since his aneurysms, Mellow Madness, Quincy works with two musicians from Billy Preston’s band, George and Louis Johnson. He enjoys working with them and soon finds himself producing their debut album, Look Out for #1. This launches a string of successful pop/R&B productions that would lead him to his legendary collaborations with Michael Jackson.
I was afraid … So for a long time I didn’t even try to work. I was also very weak from the surgery … The surgeon who operated on me warned me not to play the trumpet. He had put a clip on my artery to keep it closed, and he told me that I’d blow off that clip and kill myself if I tried to blow that horn. I didn’t believe him and I started blowing the horn, and one night, I hit one of those high notes and I felt something crack inside, like my head was gonna break right open… Well the doctor didn’t have to warn me again. I stopped playing the trumpet and I had to leave the band.
Surviving … made me realize that I didn’t have anything to be afraid of, except maybe giving up on myself. So I got together with two of the guys who’d gone on the tour with me — the Johnson Brothers, who had a great sound on guitar and bass — and produced a record with them. We wound up with four hits in a row and there I was, smack dab back in the record business.
“Q” performed by the Brothers Johnson (from Right on Time)
I do have a tendency to become obsessed. When I’ve got a creative mode going with my composing partners, Rod Temperton and Siedah Garrett — I don’t want you to get the idea I do this all alone — my mind gets so fired up that I can’t turn it off and go to sleep at night. I can actually hear a song in my mind, completely orchestrated from start to finish, before we even go into the studio with my sound engineer, Bruce Swedien, to record it. But I’ve got to wait until the last minute to be at my best. It’s the fever of the recording session that gets my juices going.
“Give me the Night” performed by George Benson (from Give me the Night)
Part II, Scene III: Quincy is asked by a friend, Alex Haley, to compose the score for a television mini-series based on his novel, Roots, which traced his ancestry back seven generations to life before slavery in Gambia. Working on the project inspires Quincy’s own search into the legacy of African music. His
I was at a party in LA and ran into this beautiful brother from San Francisco who was writing this book about the story of his family and the history of black people in America, all the way back through slavery to Africa. He called it Roots, and it was just about the most moving and powerful story I’d ever heard. Well, it so happened that at the same time I was on a journey of my own, doing research on the evolution of black music, so I felt like it was fated that [we] met.
African music had always been regarded in the West as primitive and savage, but when you take the time to really study it, you see that it’s as structured and sophisticated as European classical music, with the same basic components as you’ll find in a symphony orchestra — instruments that are plucked, instruments that are beaten and instruments that are blown with reeds. And it’s music from the soil — powerful, elemental. Life-force music.
“Oluwa (Many Rains Ago)” featuring Letta Mbulu (from the soundtrack to Roots, composed and conducted by Quincy Jones)
Composers from Bizet to Stravinsky have drawn on African influences. And in slave-ship times, it started spreading into the New World, from Brazil all the way up through Haiti to Cuba, through the West Indies, until some of the ships started landing in Virginia and New Orleans. The original African influence had been watered down and assimilated with other sounds along the way, but it was still strong enough that in 1692 the Virginia colony decided to ban the drum, because the slaves used it as a means of communication and that was a threat to plantation owners. But that didn’t stop the slaves: They started making music with hand claps and foot stomps, anything to keep the spirit alive. The slaves weren’t allowed to practice their own religions either, but the black Christian churches became the keepers of the flame for black music in America. From Gospel, blues, jazz, soul, R&B, rock and roll, all the way to rap, you can trace the roots straight back to Africa.
Part II, Scene IV: Quincy produces the score for the film adaptation of the successful musical, The Wiz. The film is a commercial and critical failure. During the project, nineteen year old Michael Jackson, who had been cast to play the Scarecrow, asked Quincy Jones to recommend some producers he could work with now that he had left Motown to record a solo album for Epic.
There’s no question that he’s brilliant — the most gifted composer and performer in popular music today. But I think it trivializes Michael to call him eccentric. He’s an incredibly rich and complex human being with both the wisdom of an eighty-five-year-old sage and the magical, childlike curiosity and wonder of Peter Pan. And the intensity of his creative energy is awesome, like a force of nature.
“The Way You Make Me Feel” performed by Michael Jackson (from Bad)
Part II, Scene V: January 28, 1985. Quincy’s success with Michael Jackson makes him the most important record producer in America, and he directs this new found influence into a charity project that raises more than $60 million (a figure still growing) for the fight against famine in Africa. “We Are the World” also brings together an extraordinary menagerie of celebrity musicians for a single session.
With all those superstars involved, it was like organizing D Day to get them into the same studio on the same day. We had only ten hours to do the whole thing and we had to get it right in one session because there wasn’t going to be a second one. Lionel and Michael and I knew all the things that could go wrong, so we planned it right down to where everybody in the chorus would be standing and where every microphone would be positioned so we’d pick up each voice distinctly. And we didn’t know what to expect with all those egos in the same room together. But they must have checked them at the door because the mood in the studio was like a living embodiment of the idea behind the song. As one after another showed up — Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, just about all the top people in the business — the voltage in that studio just kept rising and rising. For the first hour they were signing autographs for each other. And that spirit of brotherhood communicated itself very vividly on the sound track and in the video…
I say it’s a strange kind of mind to find fault with a project [for being to commercial] that raised fifty million dollars to feed the hungry. Thanks to Harry Belafonte, who planted the seed for the whole project, and Ken Kragen, who got it off the ground, We Are the World raised the public consciousness about world hunger, and that helped push the government into coming up with millions more… Anybody who wants to throw stones at that can get up off his ass and go do something better. There’s still plenty of starving Africans.
“We are the World” performed by USA for Africa
Part II, Scene VI: Our story ends in 1990 (when Quincy was interviewed for the July issue of Playboy), with the successful release of Back on the Block, an album which blends jazz, R&B and rap. Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and other jazz legends are credited alongside Ice T and other contemporary rappers.
[Rap] is no fad, man. And it’s not just a new kind of music. It’s a whole new subculture that’s been invented by the disenfranchised. When you have no place in society, you say, ‘Fuck it, we’ll start our own.’ Everything from graffiti to break dancing to popping and locking, hip-hop and now rap — the voice that vocalizes hip-hop — they’re symbols of a new subculture that comes directly from the streets.
Black music has always been the prologue to social change. It was true in the fifties with modern jazz and rock & roll, and I think rap is a sign of the kind of changes that are sweeping the world today.
“Prologue / Back on the Block” performed by Quincy Jones, featuring raps by Ice T, Melle Mel, Big Daddy Kane and Kool Moe Dee, plus performances by Tevin Campbell, Joe Zawinul, Bill Summers, and others.
I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, with perhaps the exception of rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have.
Lux Aeterna by Gyorgy Ligeti is a piece for 16 solo voices. From the Six Families’ Tara Loeper:
“This composition is quite famous for its use in 2001: A Space Odyssey in which Stanley Kubrick used several of Ligeti’s pieces without the composer’s permission. Turns out Ligeti was impressed with the film and gave Kubrick permission to use his compositions in later films like The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut.“
Six Families will perform these pieces here at Hymie’s at 7:30pm on Sunday December 8th.
The Cactus Blossoms recorded a live album at the Turf Club on July 5th, and they’ll be releasing it on Thursday. We worked spinning records once a month during their awesome every-Monday residency there, going the other nights as often as we could — This album really captures the feelings of those fun shows!
It also includes some of the original songs they’ve written since recording their debut album, in addition to the fun old classics they’ve revived. We were especially happy to have a recording of “Change Your Ways or Die” and “Almost Out of Everything,” both written by Jack Torrey.
Maybe you were there that night. We sure were, and we’ll be back for the album release show. These guys are so awesome they had made Monday our favorite night of the week.
Since the decorations and displays have gone up everywhere else you shop, we might as well give in. Look for the 45 adapter-decorated tree to go up somewhere in the record shop this week, and watch out for…
People who hate Christmas.
You’ve all heard of the Grinch, and of Ebenezer Scrooge, and Henry F. Potter, and of Professor Hinkle…
but do you recall…
Yeah, you can insist that “To Heck with ole Santa Claus” is just good fun, but the last track on her Country Christmas album sure isn’t. “Gift of the Blues” has got to be one of the loneliest Christmas songs ever written.
(“Lonesome Christmas (parts 1 & 2)” by Lowell Fulson)
(“Christmas Eve Alone” by Tommy Warren)
(“Santa Put the Hurt on You” by Benny Crunch & the Bunch)
(“X-Mas Shopping Blues” by the Christmas Jug Band)
Speaking of the X-Mas shopping blues, maybe you have already been quietly begrudging the holiday season’s conflicting messages – Well, we’ve got a surprise for you – Complaints about the commercialization of Christmas are as old as most of our Christmas traditions. If you’re feeling the pressure to build a family fairy out of the fantastic fifties, we want to remind you that some people were already lamenting the whole mess. This is Stan Freberg’s 1958 satire, “Green Chri$tma$”:
Of course, Freberg risked his recording and advertising careers to release this satire. Capitol refused to touch it and he approached Verve Records, who offered to press the record before even hearing the track. Eventually Freberg won and his satire has even been reissued several times by Capitol. His advertising career didn’t suffer either, and although “Green Chri$tma$” rarely received any airplay it’s one of his most well known pieces of “audio theater”.*
Yes, we realize that we’re a store and we’d like you to come in and buy stuff. I think the larger message here is about finding a little more meaning in the holiday, like Freberg’s “Bob Crachit” says, even if our televisions seem to be telling us otherwise.
One of our favorite writers is Bill Mikkibon, who wrote a short book about reclaiming Christmas traditions called The Hundred Dollar Holiday. In it he suggests “there is no ideal Christmas, only the Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your desires, values, affections, traditions.” Mikkibon is best known for his writings on environmentalism, but his most interesting writing has focused on how little we’re actually getting from all this media we’re consuming – another of his books, The Age of Missing Information, is an all-time favorite of mine.
The Hundred Dollar Holiday is saddled with a somewhat silly suggestion a family limit its Christmas spending to $100, one which the author himself has later dismissed as impractical, but it also includes a thoughtful history of the development of over-commercialized, over-stressed holidays. More than anything else, the book argues that we’re allowing it to make our lives overwhelmingly stressful at a time when we should be doing more meaningful things.
*Yes, you are hearing Daws Butler as “Bob Cratchit” – The same Daws Butler who voiced a seemingly endless variety of cartoon characters, including Yogi Bear, Snagglepuss and the inimitable, delightful Scooby Dumb.
(“I Hate Christmas”)
No real surprise here, is there? Except for just how well he makes his case for hating Christmas – Oscar is an dynamic performer, when you really get down to it. The other side of this, figuratively, is of course “I Love Trash.”
(“A Christmas Song” by Jethro Tull)
Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull’s ever-moralistic schoolmaster, sternly reminded us years ago in “A Christmas Song” that “Christmas spirit is not what you drink” – adding more admonishment to this 90s live recording – but the fact is it is the season for the spirits to flow freely.
And we all know where that leads…
(“Christmas in Jail” by the Youngsters)
(“Santa Got a DWI” by Sherwin Linton)
Yes, Paul McCartney. What other possible reason would Sir Paul have for writing and recording this three and three-quarter minute monstrosity?
True fact: In recording this 45 to post it to the website, We are the first person to actually choose to listen to this entire song in it’s thirty-two year history. How do we feel about that? Pretty bad. Ashamed, really. We had to stand in line with a basket full of crap and look blankly at the cover of People en Español just to get through it.
More true facts about “Wonderful Christmastime”: Amy Grant once covered this song. We’ll leave it to you to search out a copy – We would guess her version would be unstoppably wonderful. We can only hope it was even longer.
In fact, it’s been covered more than 20 times by actual recording artists. People have actually thought, “Wow, that song is so good I’d like to sing it too!” This Forbes article estimates that Paul McCartney has made $15 million from the royalties on “Wonderful Christmastime”. $15 fucking million!
The b-side, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae”, is actually worse than “Wonderful Christmastime”. And we think both sides are actually better at 33 1/3 RPM. Listen:
$15 million! It a Christmas absurdity, not a Christmas miracle – he was stoned when he made this, just like everything else that came out of the hilarious, fun McCartney II “sessions”. Think about that next time you’re stuck in line at the grocery store and you hear this song.
He probably hates Christmas.
For years we have presented Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” on Thanksgiving Day. We have also expressed our personal thanks to each and every one of you who helps keep this record shop alive. You’ve not only bought new releases and old favorites here at Hymie’s, but you’ve told your friends about us. Thanks!
There’s something else we’re thankful for this year — Over the past several weeks we have been “see-lected” and inspected by a zealous follower of Stockbridge police officer Willie “Obie” Obenheim, and yesterday it all came to an end when his boss called it off. Good to know there’s at least one person with a decent sense of fair play working for the City of Minneapolis.
So we’re thankful that Big Brother stopped pushing us around. No more hostile letters from Mickey Mouse bureaucrats, no more threats. Hymie’s will be open again for ‘black friday’ but we understand if you’d rather stay home for the day — wouldn’t you rather hang out with your kids and do the holiday shopping next week?
We’ve brought back the “roll the dice” sale (details here), but if your name is by some chance William Oberheim anything you find is on the house.
“Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (in two parts)