Songs

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When Charlie Parr was set to release his LP Barnswallow with a two-night stand at the Cedar Cultural Center, he wanted to talk about something else in this interview with City Pages — specifically cooking food on the manifold of a car.

We remembered that story when we heard Charlie’s song on this double-disc/triple-LP compilation out next month, While No One Was Looking: Toasting Twenty Years of Bloodshot Records. His cover of “Manifold” by Devil in a Woodpile is one of thirty-seven tracks on the epic set — all kinds of people performed songs from the Bloodshot catalog, from Superchunk (“Come Pick Me Up”) to Chuck Prophet (Andre Williams’ awesome song “Dirt” from Hoods & Shades). There’s even a cover of “East Jefferson” by our friend Ben Weaver, but Charlie’s song was our favorite.
while no one was looking

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Waiting

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“Waiting Room”

fugazi-first-demoWe’ve been waiting since 2001 for a new Fugazi record, and it looks like it will be a little longer still. As a consolation, Dischord Records is releasing First Demos next month, eleven songs the band recorded in 1988 before their first tour. Early versions of “Waiting Room” and “Merchandise” appear — as well as the first recording of “Furniture,” a song which was their last new single thirteen years ago.

Its possible you have already heard these songs if you love this band as much as we do. These were the first things we listened to when we learned you could find free music on the internet. The copy you can easily find online is made from the band’s tour cassette, which they encouraged people to share at the time. Presumably this reissue will sound as good as the other remastered releases Dischord has been putting out.

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“Even Trolls Love Rock and Roll” by Tony Joe White

hymies halloweenCome by the record shop this week for a copy of our first ever Halloween mix CD. Twenty-five spooky tracks featuring trolls, skeletons, witches, ghosts and zombies — interspersed throughout are clips from our kids records featuring even more monsters, ghouls and other creatures of the night!

Free with purchase while they last!

You might have read in this morning’s paper that Jack Bruce, the bassist for blues/rock trio Cream, passed away this weekend at 71. Here’s the New York Times story.

Bruce was the band’s lead singer and co-wrote many of their best songs, including “Sunshine of Your Love,” “I Feel Free” and “Politician.” We always liked Bruce’s original songs more than the extended jams the band did on blues standards.

Bruce also played bass on the Blind Faith album, and with Tony William’s Lifetime. He recorded a jazz album, Things We Like, after leaving Cream, but it was shelved by the label until they released his more rock-oriented solo debut, Songs for a Tailor. During this time he also appeared on Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe(‘), sharing credit for the title jam, and lent his distinctive style to Lou Reed’s Berlin. The most recent of his many solo albums came out earlier this year — still, Bruce is likely best remembered for his work with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker in Cream.

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“Sunshine of Your Love”

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“I Feel Free”

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“We Don’t Break Bread” by the Brian Just Band

We first posted this song three years ago, but its still a favorite. When we first shared the Brian Just Band‘s album If You Want to be Alone or If You Need to be With Someone, we were enchanted by its bright, springtime sound — something Brian pointed out was a misunderstanding.

Listening to it this mid-autumn morning, on a day where we’ll try to make time to clean up the garden a little more while keeping up with everything going on in the record shop, we understand what he meant.

Saturdays are great days here — lots of friends who can’t visit during the week stop by. Several great collections of used records have been added to the stacks out there, so they’re sure to find something special.

One more song by the Brian Just Band, the first one on their more recent disc, Enlightenment.

By the way, you catch them, along with Brian Laidlaw & the Family Trade, on November 1st at Harriet Brewing‘s Tap Room.

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“Maybe”

Fritz Kreisler

Classical musicians are not A-list celebrities today, but that was not always the case. If you think of the total span of recorded music, from the earliest commercial recordings of the late 1870s to the present, classical music was for the first half one of the most popular genres.

Fritz Kreisler is one of our favorite classical performers from that period — his recorded range from 1915 to 1950, and due to his popularity were pretty widely re-issued on LP and now on CD.

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“Gypsy Andante” by Fritz Kreisler

Kreisler was half-Jewish but a convert to Catholicism, and had been baptized at twelve. He served as an officer in the Austrian army early in World War I, but was quickly wounded and honorably discharged (his recollection of this time was published as Four Weeks in the Trenches: The War Story of a Violinist). During both World Wars he settled safely in the United States, making New York his home and becoming an American citizen in 1943.

Between the wars Kreisler was one of the most distinguished and influential musicians in the United States and Europe. His tone was expressive and instantly recognizable, and his interpretations highly personal, as reflected in the original works for which he is probably best remembered today.

His own compositions were often pistaches of the composers he most admired, from Beethoven and Brahms to Italian opera composers like Paganini. Kreisler adapted Paganini’s D major violin concerto, a showpiece for a re-tuned violin in the hands of a virtuoso, for a 1936 recording with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Around this same time he revealed that many of his transcriptions of early works were in fact his own compositions, much to the chagrin of critics who hadn’t seen through the ruse. Many of these original pieces were popular encores, before and after this time, especially “Liebesfreud”:

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kreisler

His later life in New York was marred by two automobile accidents, leading to poor health which limited his performing and recording. By this time his concerts consisted largely of his own material, and his repertoire was restricted. Regardless, he remained enormously popular. He made his last recordings in 1950, and passed away twelve years later at the age of eighty-six. Kreisler was interred in Brooklyn’s Woodlawn Cemetery, where one might also pay homage to many jazz legends, including Duke Ellington, Max Roach and Miles Davis.

In his lifetime, Kreisler owned and played a number of legendary violins, including ones made by Stradivarius and the Guarneris — some of those he owned are now named for him, including one now owned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

piece of mind

fargo rock cityThere are so many things to disagree with in Chuck Klosterman’s 2001 cult favorite Fargo Rock City we wouldn’t know where to begin. It’s why we’ve read it more than once over the years — his candid take on heavy metal is insightful but also hilarious, even if he’s just downright wrong about a whole lot of things.

A good starting point would be Iron Maiden. How in nearly three hundred pages he could hardly mention one of the awesome-est bands in the genre is beyond explanation. When Iron Maiden makes an appearance in Fargo Rock City, it’s when Klosterman suggests their lyrics are funnier than Spinal Tap’s satire.

He does at least admit their widespread influence on other metal bands: “Iron Maiden was fond of ‘perspecitve’ songs, a songwriting technique that later evolved into a cornerstone for death metal … this allowed bands to sing about virtually any subject imaginable without personal responsibility for what they said.”

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“Can I Play with Madness?”

Inevitably, this leads to some pretty dark subjects, and Iron Maiden albums surely aren’t for the faint of heart. That said, there are a lot of fans out there, and if you’re one of them you’ve noticed that their records are few and far between these days. Used copies of their classic albums don’t stick around the record shop for long.

In a lot of ways, Iron Maiden is a record collector’s dream band: their albums are hard to find, they stand up to repeated listening (at least we think so) and they look sweet. If you want an example of why LPs are far superior to CDs as far as cover art is concerned, look no further than the classic Maiden albums.

Any time the PMRC* wanted to illustrate the dangers of rock n’ roll, they would always show the cover art for Live After Death or Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. It’s my suspicion that Eddie (or, more accurately, the concept of what a character like Eddie reflected) was the biggest reason Iron Maiden was an elite metal band. These guys were unattractive, they weren’t prototypically cool, and it was impossible to sing along with any of their songs — but Iron Maiden was a type of band. They were the type of band that embraced geekiness, and they did it very, very well. (*What’s this?)

Yep, Iron Maiden’s album covers were awesome. Our favorite was, and still is, Powerslave, even though its not as good an album as Seventh Son or Piece of Mind. They undeniably raised the bar for cover art at a time where most metal albums looked like something you were unable to justify to your parents as ‘actually art.’

iron maiden powerslaveWe think Klosterman’s first observation is the key to Iron Maiden’s enduring popularity — folks have explored unique perspectives as long as they’ve been writing songs, but those classic Maiden albums took the idea to awesomely weird extremes. One of the their best tracks, “Run to the Hills,” explores both sides of the conquering of the New World (we’d post it here but we discovered this morning that somewhere along the line we lost our copy of Number of the Beast). Another fan favorite tells the story of a World War II flying ace (fun fact: lead singer Bruce Dickinson is himself a licensed pilot). “Quest for Fire” explores the experience of primitive people attempting to, yep, conquer fire.

Metalheads love lists, and Fargo Rock City includes a long list of essential albums — we think Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind, which includes “Quest for Fire,” should be on that list. And maybe at least one more. Which is their best album is subject to debate, but our favorite is Piece of Mind. Here are the first two tracks:

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“Where Eagles Dare”

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“Revelations”

The good news, dear readers, is that the Iron Maiden catalog is being reissued starting next week. The first three albums are out next week, and we’re excited to have them in stock — and replace our lost copy of Number of the Beast! The rest will follow, and they’re also reissuing all the singles.

seventh son of a seventh son

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