Category Archives: Music

Sunday Morning Video: James Taylor Nice Jazz Festival Live

That’s Nice as in the French town, not nice as in JT is nice, which he is.

Saturday Odds & Sods: To The Island

Tahiti and Picnics by Paul Gaugin.

This was the week that the celestial pendulum swung to full tilt summer in New Orleans. We’re looking at nothing but ninety-degree highs for the foreseeable future. Time to crank up the air-dish and the ceiling fans. It’s fucking hot, y’all. That concludes this week’s weather report.

I wished Neil Finn happy birthday late last month. The celebration continues with a theme song from the new Crowded House album. Dreamers Are Waiting is the most cohesive and consistent album the band has released since Together Alone.

I think the band’s new lineup has a lot to do with the excellence of the new album. Neil’s sons Liam and Elroy are onboard, and their presence seems to have inspired dear old dad. The family band twist is reflected by Bee Gees and Beach Boys influences vocally, but unlike the latter, the Finns seem to get along swimmingly. They may even have fun, fun, fun til their daddy takes the T-Bird away. I doubt that Neil would do such a thing. He’s the epitome of the cool dad.

To The Island is the first single from the new album. It was written by Neil Finn. Anyone surprised?

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the video and the Crowdies live on The Ellen Show. FYI, she’s not from New Orleans but from Kenna, Brah.

I think To The Island is destined to join Don’t Dream It’s Over as fodder for a future New Zealand tourism campaign. It’s that catchy.

We have another islandy number for you before we jump to the break. It’s an instrumental from The Band featuring the multi-instrumental wizardry of Garth Hudson:

Now that we’ve gone to the island, let’s jump to the break.

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All The Way

Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn, and their pal Oscar.

Ace lyricist Sammy Cahn is back this time with his favorite collaborator, Chester Babcock DBA Jimmy Van Heusen. He took his stage name from the shirt on his back: Van Heusen. His cronies still called him Chet.

Van Heusen and Cahn were a perfect fit for Frank Sinatra. They wrote 3 Oscar winning songs for the Chairman of the Board; one of which was this week’s selection.

All The Way was written in 1957 for the Sinatra flick The Joker Is Wild. Frank loved Chet and Sammy and the feeling was mutual.

With the exception of Lena Horne, the best and most interesting versions of All The Way were recorded by male singers. I guess it’s a manly man tune.

We begin at the beginning with the patron saint of the Friday Cocktail Hour:

Most of the subsequent recordings of All The Way followed the Sinatra model of a string heavy arrangement. Who wants to mess with Frank? Lena Horne did not.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Cellophane Symphony

You learn something new every day. I had no idea that Tommy James and the Shondells recorded an experimental album in 1969. They were better known for their bubble gum hits such as Mony Mony and Hanky Panky but they were also among the first rockers to use the Moog synthesizer.

The experimental phase lasted for one album, Cellophane Symphony. I wish I could say there was a colorful back story involving label honcho Morris Levy threatening Tommy James over the album’s flop but there is not.. FYI, Levy is the guy upon whom Heshie in The Sopranos was based.

I listened to the bits and pieces of Cellophane Symphony available online. It flopped for a simple reason: it isn’t very good. The title/opening track sounds like Pink Floyd on a bad day. Low sales and mediocre music are the reason Tommy James was back Draggin’ The Line by 1971.

An alternate title for the album could have been Surrealistic Bandstand.

Here’s the title track:

Today on Tommy T’s Random Ruminations – “Queen for a day” edition

Something a little different on this week’s RR.

They even got the “bell chord” effect right.

Barbara laughed as hard as I’ve ever heard her laugh when she saw it.

Best comment so far?

 

“Well done! My wife and I both laughed. Then she yelled at me.”

Dave Simmons

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Sunday Morning Video: The Blasters Rockpalast Loreley 1985

Loreley seems to be the name of the outdoor stage for the German Rockpalast teevee show. Pour yourself a beer and enjoy the music.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Carry On

Albino Sword Swallower At A Carnival by Diane Arbus.

The featured image is a photograph by Diane Arbus who was an extremely interesting and deeply weird photographer. Her motto was: “Take pictures of what you fear.” Words to live by.

I’d amend that to say: Deal with what you fear. I’m trying to do that in my own life. I’ve long had a fear of heights and a bridge phobia, which has intensified as I’ve aged. The bridge phobia is particularly unfortunate as I’ve always lived in places where bridges are a fact of life. I just white-knuckle it and muddle through. What else can I do?

My phobias also explain why I’m taking it slow in regard to the COVID after times. I may be fully vaccinated but many are nor. It’s why I’m proceeding with caution. I did, however, eat in a restaurant on our anniversary. A small triumph for trying times. Oh well, what the hell.

Before moving on to our theme song, some Diane Arbus trivia. She was married to actor Allan Arbus who is best known as army shrink Sidney Freedman on MASH. Allan was also a close friend of Montgomery Clift. The late Patricia Bosworth wrote excellent biographies of both Monty Clift and Diane Arbus. If you like tragic tales of talented people who died too young, they should be up your alley.

Stephen Stills wrote this week’s theme song for CSNY’s 1970 album Deja Vu. As the opening track, it gets things off to a rousing start and remains a staple of his set lists. I’d say CSN’s set lists but Crosby’s malakatude has made a reunion impossible. Imagine pissing off the most mild-mannered of rock stars, Graham Nash.

We have two versions of Carry On for your listening pleasure:  the studio original and a raucous live version featuring shouty, off-key vocals and sensational guitar playing by Stills and Young.

Ready to visit Disambiguation City?  JJ Cale wrote and recorded *his* Carry On in 1981:

Now that we’ve had deja vu and worn shades, let’s jump to the break.

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Teach Me Tonight

This week’s featured image is of Billy May conducting as Nat King Cole sings. We’ll return to those two estimable gentlemen in a moment.

Teach Me Tonight was written in 1953 by Gene De Paul and Sammy Cahn. The latter is better known for his work with Chet Babcock DBA Jimmy Van Heusen.

Teach Me Tonight is an oft recorded tune so if I miss your favorite you’re SOL.

We begin with Nat King Cole and Billy May.

Dinah Washington had a big hit with this week’s tune in 1954.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Blasters

The Blasters are one of the greatest roots rock bands ever. The original band were led by lead singer Phil Alvin and his younger brother, the super talented songwriter and guitarist, Dave.

Gustav Alsina is better known as a movie set designer, and he brings the drama to this 1981 cover. It’s a close up of Phil Alvin’s face that’s reminiscent of In The Court Of The Crimson King. I’ve seen The Blasters live and Phil really does sweat that much.

Here’s the back cover.

The Blasters album is unavailable online. Here’s a 1991 compilation via Spotify:

Sunday Morning Video: The Who Chicago Live

The Who planned an America tour in support of Who Are You before Keith Moon’s death. They pressed on the next year with Faces drummer Kenny Jones and assorted sidemen.

This Chicago show was broadcast on closed circuit teevee across the country. It was 1979’s version of a live stream.

Saturday Odds & Sods: She Said She Said

The Therapist by Rene Magritte.

We finally had our first day with a high of 90 degrees. As someone who lives in a semi-tropical climate, I prefer Fahrenheit to Celsius: 30 degrees Celsius does not sound as hot as it gets in New Orleans. It’s where ice people go to melt.

Surrealism and the Beatles go together like peas and carrots hence the featured image by Rene Magritte. He’s my other go-to Surrealist. I hope Max Ernst doesn’t mind.

She Said She Said has an opening stanza worthy of Surrealist poet Paul Eluard:

 She said “I know what it’s like to be dead I know what it is to be sad.”
And she’s making me feel like I’ve never been born.

This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon and McCartney but it’s all John. Once again, it’s from 1966’s Revolver album, which has a suitably surreal cover by the German artist/bassist Klaus Voormann.

The session at which She Said She Said was recorded was a sign of trouble in Beatle World. Macca didn’t like the arrangement and didn’t play on the track. George Harrison played bass. Yeah, yeah, yeah or is that no, no, no?

We have three versions of She Said She Said for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Gov’t Mule, and The Black Keys:

Now that we all feel like we’ve never been born, let’s jump to the break.

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Cole Porter Month: The Grand Finale

Cole Porter month has been delightful, delirious, and de-lovely. But all good things come to end, bad ones too for that matter.

We’re wrapping up Cole Porter month with seven Porter gems. Enjoy.

Our first selection was written in 1950 ending up in the film version of Kiss Me Kate. It features the vocal stylings of Francis Albert Sinatra:

You’re The Top was written in 1934 for the smash hit musical Anything Goes. Ella Fitzgerald’s version has a suitably whimsical arrangement by band leader Buddy Bregman.

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Happy Birthday, Neil Finn

It’s been a pretty darn gloomy week for me here at First Draft. I’ve written about George Floyd’s death, Anti-Semitism, and the passing of one of the last decent Republicans. It’s time to lighten things up this afternoon. Sometimes, like Cyndi Lauper, bloggers just want to have fun.

Neil Finn is one of the greatest singer-songwriters in rock history. His work with Split Enz, Crowded House, as a solo artist, and with his brother Tim have long rocked my world.

Today is Neil’s 63rd birthday. I should hate the fact that he still has a full head of hair but how can I hate Beaky?

It’s listicle time. Given how much I love Neil’s music, this Finny list captures my mood at a moment in time. If I were to do one next week, it’s likely to be different. So it goes.

It’s also really hard to limit it to ten, but who the hell wants to read a Top 100? I certainly don’t want to write such a thing. Besides, 100 videos would take forever to load.

My Top Ten Favorite Neil Finn Songs

Don’t Dream It’s Over

It’s Only Natural

Together Alone

Only Talking Sense

One Step Ahead

Better Be Home Soon

Distant Sun

Love You ‘Til The Day I Die

She Will Have Her Way

Chocolate Cake

The last pick might be controversial among some Finn fans but what’s a birthday without cake?

Perhaps I should do this every week. I forgot the song that I stole a line from for the title of my novel:

What’s a birthday without a little lagniappe?

Happy Birthday, Neil.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Super Fly

I still have Curtis Mayfield on my mind after yesterday’s post. I’ve always had a special passion for Curtis’ music. Great singer, great songwriter. The Super Fly soundtrack remains my favorite Mayfield/Impressions album. Just ask Freddie; never mind, Freddie’s Dead.

I was also a white boy who loved Blaxploitation movies. I spent many happy hours at a second run theatre: the Fox In Redwood City. That’s where I saw Super Fly, Shaft, and Blacula to name but a few. We called the theatre ‘The Bone” because admission was a dollar and my circle of friends called bucks, bones. I guess you had to be there.

Here’s the album cover:

Here’s the movie poster:

Here’s the trailer:

Finally, here’s the whole damn album via Spotify:

Sunday Morning Video: David Byrne Live

Here’s a 1997 appearance by David Byrne on the PBS music series Sessions At West 54th:

You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To

It’s a special day at Adrastos World HQ: Dr. A and my 28th anniversary. She’s remarkably tolerant to have put up with me for all these years. The puns alone would have driven away a lesser woman. This edition of the Friday Cocktail Hour is dedicated to you, babe.

Cole Porter month continues with a song written in 1943 for a long-forgotten movie, Something To Shout About. The only memorable things about it are Don Ameche and You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.

We begin with the patron saint of the Friday Cocktail Hour, Francis Albert Sinatra with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.

It’s swing time with Anita O’Day and Billy May.

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Sunday Morning Video: Peggy Lee Live In 1984

Ladies and gentlemen, the Quintessential Peggy Lee:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Getting Better

Chez Tortoni by Edouard Manet.

The weather remains the leading topic of conversation in New Orleans. A tornado ripped through the city causing property damage but no serious injuries.  It took place a mere two miles from Adrastos World HQ ,but I slept through it. I seem to be turning into a cat.

First Draft contributor Ryne Hancock came over to record his podcast with yours truly as his guest.

Beatles month continues with this week’s theme song. It was written by Lennon and McCartney for 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. It’s mostly a Macca song but has a mordant aside written by John: “It can’t get no worse.”

We have four versions of Getting Better for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Cheap Trick, Peter Frampton & the Bee Gees, and Gomez.

Feeling better? Let’s jump to the break before it gets much worse.

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You Do Something To Me

Cole Porter month continues with You Do Something To Me. He wrote it in 1929 for the musical, Fifty Million Frenchmen. The song is best known for one line, “Do do that voodoo that you do so well.” I’ve used it myself more than a few times. I only steal from the best.

We begin with Marlene Dietrich emoting the song. She couldn’t really sing but, boy, could she emote.

Ella’s Cole Porter Song Book is the gold standard for all such records.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Mimi Benzell & Felix Knight Sing Cole Porter’s Can Can Kiss Me Kate

Since it’s Cole Porter month at the Friday Cocktail Hour, I decided to make it Cole Porter week here. I think it’s also the longest album title ever to turn up on a Wednesday morning.

I have never heard of either Mimi Benzell or Felix Knight but I really dig Jim Pearsall’s cover art. It makes me want to dance the Can Can and kiss Kate.

I’ve also never heard of design compatible fidelity before. Ya learn something new everyday.

Here’s the whole damn album: