Dave’s captivity continues for a second day. Fortunately, he’s found a theme song. Laura and Irene would love a visit from you in the record shop today. It so happens we’re putting out this morning a couple boxes of great jazz LPs.
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Our friend Ben Weaver has just returned from a bicycle trip around the largest freshwater lake in the world. He’s got a show at the Cedar Cultural Center tomorrow to celebrate the trip, and perform songs along with his opening act, Twin.
Ben’s last album was, of course, the first release on our li’l record label here at Hymie’s. We have several releases in the works right now, including the debut album by Whiskey Jeff and the Beer Back Band which we featured on Monday. We are also putting the final touches on a Live at Hymie’s compilation which will include a DVD of videos shot here in the shop and co-produced by our friends from Pabst Twin Cities.
Here is Ben Weaver performing “Ramblin’ Bones” from I Would Rather Be a Buffalo here at Hymie’s last winter. You can find more details about his show at the Cedar tomorrow night from the link above, and from his official website here.
Now that the Muppets have returned to television, we thought we’d revisit our favorite song from The Muppet Movie. We always had a soft spot for Rowlf the Dog.
This version was seen only in the United Kingdom and is a little longer than the song as it appeared on the soundtrack album.
We haven’t seen the new Muppet show yet but we’ve heard great things about it.
This summer Pete Townshend released a symphonic version of the Who’s 1973 album, Quadrophenia on classical mainstay Duetsche-Grammophone. Regardless of its content, the album was a test of the limits of life-long fans like ourselves. Townshend’s recurring visits to Quadrophenia began in 1987 with outtakes and demos added to the double LP collection Scoop and it’s follow-up … wait for it … Another Scoop, but pushed our patience with a couple Record Store Day 10″ releases which, like most RSD releases, were superfluous at best.
A “Who Hits 50” US tour, including an October 10th show at the Target Center, was cancelled recently due to Roger Daltry’s illness, which fans may welcome as a blessing of sorts — Daltry was so hoarse at a 2006 appearance here that fans left more than a little disappointed. Then again, anymore being a Who fan is akin to being a Cubs fan, as described by Steve Goodman.
Having, by this time, completely exhausted our patience with Tommy reboots, the band has turned to the subsequent 1973 concept album, which tells the story of a directionless teenage mod and his relationship with parents, a psychiatrist, and an unfaithful love. The album is up to its ears in the things fans love about the Who, robust riffs, crooning ballads, magnificent bass and drums, and most of all drama.
Six years later a feature film brought the story to the big screen, but unlike the absurdly weird film adaptation of Tommy it wasn’t a musical. Quadrophenia is a popular movie, but as people who don’t love the movies as much as we love music, we’ve never made it to the end. The trailer, however, is right about the appropriate length for our attention span for movies based on records.
According to IMDB, the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotton was considered for the film’s lead but the producers wouldn’t insure him (!).
When drummer Keith Moon died from a tragic mistreatment of his alcoholism (having been given an unhealthy quantity of Clomethiazole, a sedative used to treat withdrawal, by a “doctor”), the film was nearly derailed. The Who was nearly derailed, too. Whether Moon would have been saved by more modern treatment is entirely subjective, but his death was surely a tragedy in the context of his expressed desire to sober up and his fear of hospitals.
In this promotional record sent to radio stations, Townsend and Dalty talk about the film, the songs and the story. They talk like tired rock stars on MTV (which hadn’t been invented yet) and all of the substance is lost. When you really think about it, the Who died with Moon, who appeared posthumously on the cover of Who Are You. He’s sitting backwards on a folding chair which reads “Not to be taken away.” The album is a strange, but fitting, finale.
Quadrophenia, the soundtrack, became a weird introduction: the four new songs are the first on which Kenny Jones played drums with the band, and they’re fantastic even if they’re film filler. Far better than most of Face Dances, the band’s first post-Moon full length. We’ve already written about how little we think of his tenure with the band, but the rock n’ roll veteran did help keep the band alive long enough to record a couple great songs for It’s Hard in 1982.
The band’s theatrical “Get Out and Stay Out” is suit to fit the story, but hits a chord with anyone tossed out of house and home. On the soundtrack album the song is followed by Townshend’s “Four Faces,” which ostensibly uses the theme of quadrophenia (the band’s four personalities) to express a genuine sense of loss for place or foundation. It lacks the energy of earlier Who recordings, but offers a preview of the pathos of Townshend’s All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, more than it does the slicker, haughtier Who heard on Face Dances.
Another interesting feature of the 1979 soundtrack is the first LP appearance of “Zoot Suit,” the B side to the band’s first single, released fifteen years earlier. The single, on Fontana Records, was credited to the High Numbers, and written by their first manager, Peter Meaden (the A side had appeared on a collection of outtakes and singles, Odds & Sods, a few years earlier). The songs were based, respectively, on tunes by the Dynamics and Slim Harpo. Unhappy with Meaden’s attempts to rebrand the band, the quartet changed its name back to the Who for their next single, Townshend’s original “I Can’t Explain,” which was a successful breakthrough. “Zoot Suit” and “I’m the Face” were reissued as a single in the UK by Polydor after the success of Quadrophenia and finally charted.
Us Yanks had to find the songs on a bonus 7-inch single which inexplicably accompanied the 1980 Mercury collection of power pop and new wave, Thru the Back Door. Who fans are, of course, used to a collecting confusing discography.
Townshend, seventy years old this year, has been held to account for saying “I hope I die before I get old” nearly as long as we have been adults. Though he has since dismissed the remark as “archaic, insulting and extraordinary dumb” (with a mischievous smile), the one-time messianic master of rock n’ roll has settled into comfortable old man confines, like for instance conducting a symphonic version of a classic album.
Morticia released a 7″ single (“Zombie Love” b/w “You Scare Me to Death”) and an LP (Mortal Fear) in 1987. Their last album, 13 Nightmares, was released five years later, and earned a Minnesota Music Award for Best Metal Album. All three albums they released before disbanding in 1994 were on local label Channel 83 Records. In 2005 an Italian label collected highlights from all three on a disc, Exhumed, which was popular enough with metal fans to quickly fall out of print.
Their act was described at the time as an updated Alice Cooper with darker shades of the Damned and Sisters of Mercy, and they were the first goth metal band from the Twin Cities to establish a following. Morticia stopped playing in 1994 with a final show at First Avenue, but reunited in April 2012 to take part in the 25th anniversary celebration of KFAI’s The Root of All Evil program at the Triple Rock.
Founding member Matt Batchelor performs these days with Black Rainbow, a Dio tribute band, and also an original band (still said to do a killer “Billion Dollar Babies”), Vicious Violet.
He also happens to live here in the best neighborhood in Minneapolis. When he came across a handful of copies of those original “Zombie Love” singles, he brought then into the shop — and our enthusiasm for the songs forged a friendship, and now we’re fortunate enough to host Morticia’s first show in years.
We have loved Halloween celebrations of all kinds for ages — Dave joined our friends Liberty and Izzy on KFAI’s Pop Shop with a ghastly playlist way back in 2011, and several years later we put together a similar playlist for a show with Jack Klatt and the Cat Swingers. Last year’s Hymie’s Halloween mix was a hit, and we’ll have updated copies (as soon as we can find those pumpkin-stamped sleeves in the office!) for this year’s event.
Here’s the A side of that single that made us fall in undead love with this band.
Morticia will reunite for a special Halloween show here at Hymie’s at 5pm. Ghouls and ghosts aren’t just welcome, they’re expected…
“West” is from the upcoming second record by OAKS, Animal Life. The video was directed by Carlos Lamas. There’s a release show for it at the Icehouse on Friday night, and we’ll have it in stock later this week!
We have never been morbid enough (or reliable-enough readers of People) to follow our own “death pool” but as music lovers we’re worried one of the next big-name obituaries we’ll read in the morning paper is that of Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. The seventy-one year old legend suffered a brain aneurysm earlier this year and has been struggling since.
The latest news has offered some hope, that Mitchell will continue to recover. The New York Times recently reported she has moved home, been able to speak again, and is in the care of a close friend, Leslie Moore. Still, rather than reflect on her two dozen album catalog all too late, we’ve been listening to our favorites this week.
As is the case with many of our favorite performers, our first choices are the live albums. Mitchell released two live albums, Miles of Aisles in 1974 on which she is backed by L.A. Express, and Shadows and Light released six years later. Both follow a run of artistically ambitious and successful studio albums, and so the song selection on each is superb.
The best songs on the first live album come from Blue and Court and Spark, but we’ve always liked the way the double LP opens with songs from her earlier albums.
L.A. Express originally started playing as Tom Scott’s backing group, so they lean towards jazz fusion instead of the folk style of Mitchell’s earliest albums, predicting the direction she’d move her music over her next few projects. Her next live album also features a jazz group, which includes substantial parts for Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius and Lyle May. Several of its best songs come from her collaboration with Charles Mingus, which was the last record he worked on. Shadows and Light contains relatively few songs from her earlier albums.
The other live performance of Joni Mitchell record collectors can find is her appearance on the Band’s collaborative farewell concert, The Last Waltz. The film is hailed by boomers as as one of the greatest concert films ever shot but for folks who didn’t grow up with some of its marquee names it feels more like a tour de force of the washed-up and drug-addled. Mitchell’s appearance provides an undeniably material reality check in the midst of moments like Neil Young’s coked-out, bloodshot performance and a rambling, directionless interview with Rick Danko.
The song Mitchell performed in The Last Waltz opened he then-new and slow selling album Hejira. “Coyote” contrasts the touring world she’d experienced as part of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue with day to day rural living. Whether Mitchell would rather be the rancher in her song than herself is left to the listener’s interpretation, but the song is certainly the most interesting on the triple-album soundtrack.
The other remarkable thing about Mitchell’s appearance in The Last Waltz is that she’s there at all. The only other women welcomed into The Band’s boys club all accept secondary roles: Emmylou Harris meekly performs Robbie Robertson’s “Evangeline” and the Staple Singers, featuring the amazing Mavis Staples, didn’t even perform at the actual Thanksgiving Day concert in San Francisco.
This seems to often be the case with Mitchell, a frequent anomaly in pop music — she is, for instance, the highest-ranked woman on Rolling Stones‘ list of the greatest guitarists of all time, and except for Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours has the highest-ranked female-fronted album on their list of the 500 greatest. It’s all the more surprising that only two of her twenty albums are on that list, but she is still the second most-represented female performer.
Mitchell certainly belongs on the list of guitarists. Her style was always highly innovative compared to contemporaries, especially in her use of unique open tunings. She also became increasingly percussive in her playing as she evolved into more of a jazz performer, which becomes especially interesting in her interplay with Pastorius on Mingus and Shadows and Light. By consistently working in the areas between folk, pop and jazz, she didn’t really need the recognition of industry press like Rolling Stone. Her albums have always sold well.
It seems likely that even as Mitchell recovers, she will probably not make another album. Her last was Shine, released in 2007, and she had previously talked about retiring from songwriting. It’s just disappointing because that disc was an interesting return to her earlier, folkier style, and contained some of her best story-telling songs since Hejira. And it seems even less likely she’ll make another live album, but we can always hope. A couple years ago we had a Blue-era bootleg here in the shop, but it quickly bought off the turntable by an excited fan.