Songs

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Ramblin’ Bones

 

Here is the next video in our second season of local artists filmed after hours here at Hymie’s. Click here to see the first video, which features Wolf Council. This song is on Ben Weaver‘s new album I Would Rather Be A Buffalo, which is the first LP we released ourselves. We’re proud to have worked with Ben, who has performed on this stage many times over the years.

The Star Tribune‘s Chris Riemenschneider recently named this one of his favorite songs of the year (along with “My Love” by the Ericksons). Its been more than a year since the first time Ben performed it here at Hymie’s, and in that time he’s sung it on his “It’s All the River” bicycle tour down to New Orleans, as well as in all kinds of venues around the Twin Cities.

These videos are co-sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon, filmed by Dan Huiting and Lauren Josephine and mixed by Brian Herb of Mother of All Music. There are seven more videos in this season, so stay tuned!

The Blind Shake may be the busiest band in the Twin Cities, with a track on Amphetamine Reptiles’ revived Dope, Guns and Fucking in the Streets series out this week and two albums slated for release in the spring, including a surf rock album with Rocket From the Crypt’s John Reis. They’ve also got a single out this year on a European label, where they’ll be touring next year. They just returned from an East Coast tour, and oh yeah — they’re releasing this awesome LP tonight at the Hexagon Bar. It’s easily one of our favorite albums of the year.

blind shakeAny new album by the venerable trio is likely to be a favorite of ours, but Breakfast of Failures is a resounding success sure to push this band into larger territory. They’ve never explored their sound as widely in a single record as on this album, which has all the furious urgency of their live sets, but a steadier approach to some of the arrangements, from the bombastic title track to the methodically paced “Dots in the Fog,” where Mike Blaha’s baritone guitar takes on the tone of a baroque keyboard over brother Jim’s mournful-sounding accompaniment. It’s consistently surprising that you’re hearing only a trio, especially during the wild frenzy at the end of “Pollen,” and this tightly-packed track, “Parachute”:

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“Parachute”

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“Dots in the Fog”

Breakfast of Failures finds the Blind Shake bolder than ever before, but we still have no idea what’s got ‘em so riled up. “Youth Carnival Waste” hurls rage at someone who’s “kind are the worst,” we think, but we’re not sure who. We keep getting caught up in the song’s surf-styled drive and missing the lyrics. “Go Lie” seems the angriest of all, with a slower pace which sounds like Wire’s “Lowdown” or a track off Generic Flipper, and the cryptic admonishment “Go lie with your words.”

And we’re not sure if we’re being told to “Grab a parachute and dive,” or “die.” We’ve never been very good at deciphering lyrics around here anyway. Breakfast of Failures is a cathartic joy, an album which feels filled to the brim with manic demons who need to stretch their legs. Dave Roper makes it just about impossible to keep your feet still for twenty frantic minutes, and Mike and Jim Blaha explore just about every extraordinary sound a guitar can make along the way, running the range from rage to, um, rage. We get exhausted just listening to this album.

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“Breakfast of Failures”

The Blind Shake will perform tonight at the Hexagon Bar along with Joust, who are releasing a debut single, and Teenage Moods. 21+, 10pm.

Two more messages of affirmation, following up on the theme of yesterday’s post about Ricky Nelson, each from unique artists you have to dig pretty deep into the crates to find these days.

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The first is by Exuma, whose surreal albums transcend the confines of genre, combining carnival with calypso, balladic melodies and a preoccupation with the spirituality and folklore of Obeah. Although he was an underground figure for most of his career, his early albums for major labels appear in the shop from time to time and always brighten our day.

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“Walking Home” by Exuma

DSC07073The second is from an equally original source, voice-over artist Ken Nordine. His “Word Jazz” LPs present his bizarre, often Kafka-esque stories in the style of the beat poets. On his early albums for Dot, he’s backed by the Northern Jazz Quartet, led by Richard Campbell. He later recorded with the Chico Hamilton Quintet, and also served as a vocal coach to Linda Blair during the filming of The Exorcist.

This track from Word Jazz Vol. II puts a positive spin on Nordine’s paranoia.

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“You’re Getting Better” by Ken Nordine

On October 15, 1971 Rick Nelson and his band were booed off the stage of a rock n’ roll revival concert at Madison Square Garden. Nelson, with long hair and bell bottom jeans, played some of his band’s newer material along with his 50s hits like “Hello Mary Lou.” It was a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman” which turned the crowd against him.

He wrote the song “Garden Party” about his experience, which was his first hit in nearly a decade.

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“Garden Party” by Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band

Ironically, by the end of the decade his live sets again included most of his early hits (he had 52 songs on Billboard’s singles chart before “Garden Party”). Regardless, the simple message of his last hit single is the same: You can’t please everybody, so you got to please yourself.

garden partyOf course, Nelson did a lot of pleasing himself in those days and after — his personal problems and drug use were probably a big part of why record buyers weren’t interested in his countrified persona with the Stone Canyon Band. Listeners quickly tire of the troubled artist who isn’t able to keep it together, just as we all get weary of the narcissist in our lives, whether its a friend or a family member: they’re the people who can’t seem to survive without help, yet are quick to tell you what to do. They relish in your failure and strike at you when you succeed — the only way they can express themselves is through snarky remarks, just as Nelson does in deriding George Harrison as “Mr. Hughes in Dylan’s shoes.”

We love Ricky Nelson’s hit songs — they were a regular part of our rockabilly sets when we DJed at the Turf Club for years — but from a different perspective his behavior on that October evening was a case of such narcissism. Nobody came to a rock n’ roll revival show to hear a set of country music. The other artists on the bill — Bobby Rydell, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley — all offered solid sets of rock n’ roll hits, as promised, even though each had recorded new material (even some country songs) in the years since their collective peak. Sulking backstage and refusing to step out and bow with the others solidifies his selfish behavior.

The message of “Garden Party” goes both ways, and the audience was under no obligation to please Nelson by indulging his new interests. From this different perspective, the song reminds us that there’s no reason to have a narcissistic person in your life. They will never change. When Nelson died in a plane crash in 1985, investigators found traces of marijuana, cocaine and painkillers in his blood. As much as we love those classic singles on Imperial which made Nelson a star in the 50s, we could do without the person he became.

 

 

What a day

Some days get derailed, and everything just seems to go wrong. Just ask these guys.

meadows lp

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“What a Day” by the Meadows

Today’s going to be a good day here at Hymie’s though, even if its a little grey and gloomy out there. Two of our favorite groups are going to visit for an in-store performance this evening, both celebrating recent record releases. The Ericksons‘ forth album, Bring me Home, came out back in October, the week before Brian Laidlaw & the Family Trade released the first single on our own label, Hymie’s Records. Brian Laidlaw also just finished his epic book & record project based on the story of Bonnie and Clyde, which we posted last week (here). Both groups have performed here at Hymie’s several times over the years, and they’ll be back again this evening starting at 7pm. We hope you can visit and start the weekend with some good music.

 

For years we have presented Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” for Thanksgiving. 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! alices restaurant 

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“Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (in two parts)

Music is Just a Bunch of Notes by Spider John Koerner and Willie & the Bumblebees is one of our favorite local records of all time.

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“Ramble Tamble”

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“Everybody’s Goin’ for the Money”

Its original pressing of 1000 copies was hand-stamped (pre-dating the Replacements’ Stink album by a decade) — many that we’ve seen here at Hymie’s have green marker circling the title. In the case of our own copy it’s a big wild squiggly circle. Some copies had a serial number, like the “White Album,” others have additional doodlings and marks. The photographs you see here are what we were able to find searching online — We had been photographing each unique copy that passes through the record shop, but when the Hymie’s computer suddenly pooped out on us last month we lost the files.

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We also found this unfinished or abandoned blog, where somebody had the idea of tracking down all 1000 copies.

My first copy of this album was a CD-R that Dave Ray made for me when I was working at Al’s Breakfast. At the time the album was out of print, and fairly difficult to find. Sadly, that disc didn’t survive one move or another, or the theft of a CD collection from a car or something. It would be something special to have today. Music Is Just a Bunch of Notes is in print again and now comes with DVD of Koerner’s weird 1970 movie, The Secret of Sleep.

The album includes crowd noise from a performance at Macalester College and a couple of absurdist comedy bits by Ted Olson. The remaining tracks were recorded above the Coffeehouse Extempore, as described in Dave Ray’s extensive liner notes. We first posted about the album’s stranger features in our very popular “Weird Stuff” series a couple years ago. Here is one of the tracks with Olson driving his car.

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“Waiting for go with Normal Dub”

Hearing Koerner perform “Summer of ’88″ on the new Live At Patrick’s Cabaret disc reminded us (we posted it here earlier this week) reminded us how much we love his songwriting and his totally original performances. People hang onto their Spider John Koerner albums, which is why several of them are so difficult to find — it took years to build up a collection of all of them, as well as all the great records Dave Ray made. We are, of course, very excited about the new Red House Records compilation of Ray’s records. A few customers here have been disappointed it wasn’t released on LP, but we’re just glad to hear all the rarities and live recordings.

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